Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Marcela Castillo Tokumori, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Marcela Castillo Tokumori

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

“When I truly believe in something, I commit myself wholeheartedly to it.”

Hometown: Lima, Peru

Fun Fact About Yourself:  Taekwondo was a part of my life before I was 4 years old, and I represented my country for 13 years

Undergraduate School and Major: University of Lima, Industrial Engineering

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: High-performance athlete in the Taekwondo Peru National Team

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? Integrative thinking refers to a method for framing, structuring, analyzing, and solving real-world business problems. We need to stop focusing on results when trying to solve complex problems. In order for us to achieve better outcomes, we must begin thinking about how we will come up with a solution by taking different perspectives and thinking about how the whole solution process will work together. Rotman not only provides us with a wide range of tools and models, but also shows us how to integrate them to make better decisions and solve problems more efficiently and effectively. My first experience of implementing integrative thinking has been through group assignments and case competitions in the real world. Having worked with highly skilled professionals and getting exposed to them has allowed me to be more aware of myself and to better understand the contribution that we all can make to the world.

What has been your favorite part of Toronto so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? I find it very difficult to choose just one thing, Toronto is a city full of opportunities, culture, and entertainment. There is not only a warm welcome waiting for you in Toronto, but it is also one of the most diverse cities in the world, with the perfect combination of natural beauty and a deep sense of city life. In terms of global competitiveness, innovation, and quality of life, Toronto consistently ranks at the top and only a few cities can offer such broad multi-sector capabilities, depth of talent, and a high-powered economic and financial engine.

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?  I chose Rotman for its two-year program that offers a powerful network of mentors, instructors, and leaders that seek to add value to business and society. I wanted a world-class program that would allow me to develop a solid foundation of entrepreneurial vision, develop diverse skills, and provide time to explore the variety of industries available on the global market. As part of my selection criteria, I also sought an environment of diversity and inclusion, something Rotman infuses you with from the first time you interact with the school.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rotman? The Self-Development Lab (SDL) workshop series has been extremely helpful and has provided a huge amount of learning opportunities. We receive individualized feedback on our behaviour, communication style, and personal presence. These aspects are crucial to developing ourselves as self-aware people and to enhance our interpersonal skills. They are also key in becoming effective collaborative problem-solvers and being successful Rotman students. The Rotman Sports Business Association is also one of my highlights of the program so far. During the second term, I participated in a sports-related case comp that gave me real-world experience and the opportunity to explore and understand better this industry in Canada.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  I was runner-up in both the World Taekwondo Poomsae Championship in 2016 and in the Pan American Games in 2019.

I started representing my country when I was 14 years old and have led the country to World and Pan American level events throughout my career. Years of hard work and dedication helped me achieve my first world medal in 2016, which earned me the highest national sports recognition. I am humbled to have realized my dream and to inspire others in doing the same. Three years later, I was once again able to take the Peruvian flag to the podium at the Pan American Games after a long season of ups and downs, arduous preparation, and perseverance. It was definitely a long-term commitment that gave me the most valuable experiences and life lessons.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Two moments stand out in my mind since starting on this life-changing journey. First, I came in second place in my first case comp, which entailed on developing a marketing strategy and campaign with an amazing team from my cohort. This participation gave me the opportunity to apply the knowledge acquired in class to real world situations, as well as being able to work and learn from a team of diverse backgrounds and experiences. And second, it was being the first-year representative in the Rotman Sports Business Association (RSBA). Sport has always been part of my life, so I knew from the very beginning that I wanted to share my passion for sport and to contribute as much as I could.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rotman MBA program?

The application process will be a roller coaster of emotions, from nervousness and fear to eagerness and excitement. It was also quite nerve-racking for me to apply, but then I realized that I was growing and looking to step outside of my comfort zone. So let yourself grow, take the risk, and have faith in your potential. How far you will go is up to you. If you do not try, you will never know. My last piece of advice is to remember to show the value of the non-academic part of your life when applying. I encourage you to highlight what you have learned in specific situations outside of your studies and how these experiences have shaped you as a person.


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