Meet the MBA Class of 2022: Sarah Rickaby, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Sarah Rickaby

University of Toronto, Rotman School of Management

“I am a passionate, driven, and confident individual that strives to make positive change.”

Hometown: Mississauga, Ontario

Fun Fact About Yourself:  I have always been heavily involved in the arts, specifically dance. I have had many unique opportunities through dance including training with Cirque du Soliel at L’École Nationale de Cirque in Montreal and training at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto for my Solo Seal ballet examination.

Undergraduate School and Major: Bachelor of Engineering Science – Civil and Environmental Engineering. The University of Western Ontario – 2017

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Dillon Consulting Limited, Civil Engineer-in-Training (EIT)

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of the school’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I believe that learning happens both inside and outside of the classroom. The MBA program at Rotman appealed to me because there are several ways to develop not only theoretically, but practically as well. I was very impressed by the number of clubs, competitions, and presentations offered throughout the year by industry professionals and academic leaders. I believe that the exposure to learning opportunities outside of the traditional classroom setting would provide me with the best learning experience.

What club or activity excites you most at this school? I was most excited to learn about the Rotman Women in Management Association (WIMA). As a woman who works in a male dominated field, I am a strong advocate for promoting women in leadership roles. In the past, I have participated in several mentoring events specifically geared towards women. For example, I was a panelist at Go ENG Girl, an annual event that offers young women from grades 7 to 10 the unique opportunity to learn about the engineering profession from a female perspective. I have found the experiences incredibly rewarding. WIMA focuses on advancing women through education and mentorship programs. I am looking forward to contributing to this club because gender equality is extremely important to me. I was also very honoured to be selected as a Forte Fellow this year. I am thrilled to be a part of a group of diverse and strong women that focus of leadership in business.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: My biggest professional accomplishment was being selected for the President’s Crew Program (Crew) at Dillon Consulting. The Crew is a prestigious career development program for five new graduates in engineering, planning, environmental science, and management consulting. I had the opportunity to work in various Canadian offices on diverse projects within the civil engineering industry. As a Crew member, I was most proud of co-founding the Indigenous Community Initiative (ICI); a group society project intended to educate staff about the truth and reconciliation process and to improve business relationships will our Indigenous clients. This initiative helped raise awareness across our organization.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I have had a phenomenal experience in engineering. However, I quickly realized through my work experience that I am more passionate about the management side of the business. I want to be a strong leader who truly understands all aspects of the engineering industry. I have been working from the ground up to establish myself as a well-rounded individual personally and professionally in engineering. I completed detailed designs on high profile infrastructure projects and even got my boots dirty while working on construction sites in the field. I see myself in a senior management position at an engineering consulting firm. However, I need to have the acquired practical and theoretical knowledge to be successful as a business professional. Obtaining my Professional Engineering (P.Eng.) designation prior to furthering my business education was a goal of mine. Now that I have satisfied my licensing requirements in order to become a P.Eng., I decided to pursue a MBA at Rotman because I believe it would best provide me with the academic background to compliment my engineering experience.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I also applied to the MBA program at the Schulich School of Business at York University.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? The most challenging question I was asked during the admissions process was why I was applying for graduate school during the time of COVID-19. My goal was always to obtain my Professional Engineering (P.Eng.) designation and then apply to a Master of Business Administration program. I fulfilled all the licensing requirements earlier this year, so my decision to further my education in 2020 was essentially “according to plan”. I found it the most challenging question because it gave me pause. The question opened my eyes to how unique of a learning experience this could be in light of the changes we are experiencing across the world. While there will be changes, I feel like there is a huge opportunity for growth and learning during this time.

How did you determine your fit at various schools? There were a few factors that influenced my decision when determining my fit at various schools; quality, culture, location, and reputation. Rotman is a highly respected business school that offers a very comprehensive MBA program. Since I do not have a formal business background, I felt that a combination of theoretical and practical learning would benefit my potential to succeed in the future. Rotman has a strong international presence with students coming from different academic and cultural backgrounds. I really wanted to diversify my experience and I felt the culture would offer an enriching learning experience in addition to the academic prestige of the program. The location also factored into my decision. Toronto attracts industry leaders from across the world. Rotman’s location made it an ideal option because it is based in an area where there is constant development and strong ties to employers. Lastly, it was important for me to attend a school where the students have a positive experience. My dad is an alumni of the Rotman MBA program. He spoke very highly of his time in the program and went on to have a very successful career in business.

What was your defining moment and how did it prepare you for business school? My experience as the captain of Heat Dance Team (Heat) at Western University inspired me to pursue a career in business. Heat is a student-run, varsity dance team comprised of 50 dancers that represents Western at four competitions annually. I was a member of the team every year of study and was selected by my peers to captain the team in my final two years at Western. The team has a history of receiving several first place awards in competition. It was my responsibility as captain to lead the team to achieve the highest standard of excellence.

I developed the skills necessary to be successful in business school; time management, organization, and leadership. I auditioned and selected the team, scheduled weekly practices and rehearsal spaces, choreographed our competitive routines, and performed with the team. Winning first place overall in competition was a defining moment for me because it validated that I could lead a team to success. Dance is a collaborative art form and teamwork is essential to be successful. I was able to foster an environment built on mutual respect but also had the confidence of my team to make the final decisions that would lead our team to victory. This experience made me realize that I wanted to continue leading teams in the future.

What is the most important attribute that you are seeking in an MBA employer and why is that so important? The most important attribute that I am seeking in a future employer is that they strive for diversity. In my personal experiences, I have seen underrepresented genders, cultures, races, religions, etc. in the professional workplace. I believe that unique perspectives lead to more informed decisions. I would love to work for an employer that highlights diversity in their organization and actively works to change biases in workplaces where diversity is not balanced.



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