2022 Best & Brightest MBA: Ellis Odynn, Queen’s University (Smith)

Ellis Odynn

Smith School of Business, Queen’s University

“I am a senior consultant at EY, and a certified rescue scuba diver.”

Hometown: Vancouver, Canada

Fun fact about yourself: As a child, I sang in the opera Brundibar with the UBC Children’s Opera Ensemble. The late Ela Weissberger, who is a famous Holocaust survivor and one of the original cast members to perform the opera in the Theresienstadt concentration camp, came to teach us the opera for a Holocaust Shoah charity event.


I’ve been struck by lightning.

Undergraduate School and Degree: University of British Columbia, Bachelor of Arts.

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I was the Executive Director at the Digital Finance Institute, a think-tank for FinTech and digital innovation, where I led many initiatives including supporting inclusion and diversity in the financial services sector. While in this role, I was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, named the “One to Watch” at the Women in Finance Awards, and included as one of Canada’s Top Women in FinTech and Blockchain.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? N/A

Where will you be working after graduation? EY as a Senior Consultant in Tech

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School: I was a Forté Fellow and co-president of the Women in Leadership Club.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am most proud of organizing the Women in Leadership Summit, which brought together speakers from Meta, Google, Uber, YouTube, Omers, TD Bank, Scotiabank, Deloitte, Aritzia and many more. The summit brought together 150 current and prospective MBA students to learn from our esteemed panel of powerful women in leadership positions.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I was asked to speak about the future of AI and technology at the Asia-Pacific Economic Corporation (APEC), representing Canada. That was a proud moment, particularly as I was the youngest speaker. Before that, I was asked to speak at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on financial crime at the headquarters of PayPal, which was really thrilling.

Why did you choose this business school?  I chose to attend Smith School of Business because of its excellence in teaching, its leading professors and its inclusive approach to learning.

Who was your favorite MBA professor?  It’s hard to pick just one when there were so many amazing professors that had an impact on my MBA experience. One of my favourite professors was Sarah Jordan, who taught “Strategic Problem Solving and Insights”. What made her stand out was her organizational skills and the applicability of the content of her course material, as well as the work on case reviews. She was excellent at providing students with immediate feedback on their work and analytic skills in connection with problem solving.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school? My favorite MBA event was the end-of-year dinner for the whole MBA student body and faculty, where we were able to share meaningful experiences and say goodbye before each of us ventured out into our new professional lives.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? My experience at the Smith School of Business was amazing and there is nothing that I would change.

What is the biggest myth about your school? One of the myths is that there is little time to get to know fellow students. In reality, I discovered there were plenty of opportunities to meet, socialize, and form bonds with my fellow students and I made long-lasting friendships, from informal get-togethers, to program assignments and more formal events. In particular, Smith organized Zoom get-togethers and activities with students, such as a murder mystery night, which I really enjoyed because it allowed me to get to know the rest of my classmates in a fun and informal setting.

What surprised you the most about business school? What surprised me the most about business school is how relevant and applicable the curriculum is to the work environment and my current job. I use what I learned at Smith every day at my job with EY, and apply the critical thinking and analytical skills to my work advising clients on their matters.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? The one thing I did during the application process that gave me an edge was to include as much about myself as I could beyond a mere resume so that the school admissions officers could have a sense of who I was, what my goals were and what my career objectives were in obtaining an MBA.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? I admire Nick Ouellette who is now working at Northleaf Capital Partners. He was a hard-working team member who was generous with his time and knowledge, a whiz with financial analysis and was patient and good at assisting fellow students in understanding difficult financial concepts.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? My mom. She has an undergraduate degree and a JD and instilled in me the value of higher education. She influenced my decision to pursue a business degree and encouraged me to apply to Smith School of Business.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? My professional bucket list includes (a) teaching a course for an MBA program in the future when I have more experience; and (b) becoming a recognized leader in my field.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The pandemic really influenced my decision to pursue an MBA. While it was globally a difficult time and challenging in many respects, it motivated me to want to be the best version of myself during that period, which meant making the decision to go back to university and obtain an MBA so that I could self-improve and expand my skill-set.

What made Ellis such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“Ellis is an articulate, persuasive and superbly well-informed young professional. A powerful individual with an impressive background who stands out as an expert in her field, she is nonetheless a collaborative and supportive team member. It was truly rewarding to see her take delight in the success of her teammates.

Her list of accomplishments is simply breathtaking. She’s a speaker, journalist and podcaster. She has a passion for all things technology related and she’s constantly exploring opportunities at the forefront of FinTech and AI. This energy and vitality is apparent in all that Ellis does.

Leadership comes naturally for Ellis; she actively seeks out challenging leadership roles and, equally, is sought-after for her considerable leadership abilities. Acknowledged with many awards and distinctions, she is clearly destined to make a significant impact on the world.”

Len Anderson
Lecturer, Accounting
Smith School of Business, Queen’s University


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