Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Long Cao, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Long Cao 

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto         

“I love reading, traveling, and watching movies to explore new ideas and thinking.”

Hometown: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Fun Fact About Yourself: I’m a history buff. I like wandering in historical sites or museums alone for hours.

Undergraduate School and Major: Wabash College, Economics

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Robert Bosch, Process Lead-Accountant

Integrative thinking is one of the cornerstones of the Rotman MBA experience. What does integrative thinking mean to you and how have you been able to apply it thus far? I learned about integrative thinking from a book by Roger Martin, the former dean of Rotman. The idea is about harmonizing different or even opposing ideas to create a new concept that can combine all the best elements of the original contradictory ones. During class discussions and group projects, students came up with many different ideas. Then, through challenging each other, we ended up with a final solution that could accommodate the best ideas of team members.

What has been your favorite part of Toronto so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? Toronto is very diverse and accommodating. People with different backgrounds live together and celebrate their cultural heritage throughout the year. New immigrants are well-supported with different programs and by people who volunteer or make donations. Besides, Toronto is also a financial and commercial center where many big corporations and startups operate. An MBA program at Toronto gives students access to the recruitment of these firms and multiple opportunities to network with professionals in various industries.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Rotman MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you?  Many elements led me to choose Rotman. One of them is the wide network of alumni. Rotman is a part of the University of Toronto, so the affiliated network of alumni is vast. Rotman and U of T alumni help connect Rotman students with various employers through networking events and informational sessions. Students can learn about and develop relationships with particular firms to help them land internships or full-time jobs.

For the Curriculum, I’m impressed with the Creative Destruction Lab. The Lab has successfully developed into chapters outside Rotman and Canada, with multiple streams focusing on emerging industries such as space technology, neurotechnology, and climate solutions. The selection for the CDL course is competitive, and chosen students can have chances to support CDL partners in developing plans to commercialize their ideas and scale their startups. It is also a good opportunity for students to network with entrepreneurs, investors, and program mentors.

Self-Development Lab is another program that is very beneficial to students. The program includes a series of small-group activities in which focus on soft-skill improvement. Three to five students participate in interactive activities with an expert and get feedback right at the sessions, both from their peers and the event host. Feedback is timely, detailed, straightforward, customized, and quite counter-intuitive. The comments are sometimes eye-opening, with many psychology-based insights.

Students are supportive of each other. The program’s workloads are heavy, and multiple events take place throughout the semester. It is easy to get overwhelmed and miss out on important events. We help each other to keep track of deadlines and manage the workloads of classes.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rotman? My favorite classes are Finance I by Professor Mike Simutin and Strategic Management by Professor Brian Silverman. In Finance I, besides technical knowledge, we discuss many real-life applications and tips for personal finance. In Strategic Management, business cases are thoroughly examined with diverse insights from students’ different experiences from childhood, home countries, careers, and lifestyles.

I also participated in many events of the Business Technology Association and Management Consulting Association, which offer multiple opportunities to network with alumni and professionals from related industries and gain necessary skills for the recruitment processes.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I used to be in charge of preparing financial statements for a retail firm. Without an accounting major and hands-on experience of Vietnamese Accounting Standards, I encountered many challenges initially in understanding the financial and accounting concepts and their relation to business activities. Nevertheless, the work allowed me to develop a comprehensive view of the firm’s business, regularly interact with senior leadership, and come with insights essential to management and operational decision-making. My analysis uncovered abnormal cost changes and forecasted different scenarios of store performances, which was conducive to finalizing measures for business improvement.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: As a first-year student, I focused most of my time on classes and clubs’ activities. My most significant accomplishments are completing Term 1 and soon Term 2, continually developing my skills and knowledge both in classes and other resources.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rotman MBA program? Early preparation is essential to succeeding in the application process. Applicants should start their research as early as one year before their intended deadlines. They also should apply as late as Round 2 to take advantage of Rotman’s rolling admissions process. Spike factors are the key factors in distinguishing the candidates from others, so they should spend enough time reflecting on their past experiences and constructing a cohesive and authentic story on themselves. Speaking to the admissions officers, current students, and alumni and attending online webinars help applicants understand their areas of interest and prepare for their final interviews.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.