Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class Of 2023

Rotman student at work with Toronto in the background


The Class of 2023 features 278 members, with women making up 45% of the class – a one point uptick over the previous year. Another 58% of the class are international students, with 73% of the class being born outside Canada. In total, the class boasts students from 39 nationalities who speak 27 languages. In fact, 78% of the class have mastered two languages and 31% can speak three or more.

Among the class, you’ll find 32 Forte fellows, not to mention 11 students earning a dual JD-MBA (and another 3 students enrolled in medical school). The Class of 2023 also scored a 678 average GMAT, up 8 points from the previous year (with scores ranging from 610-720 in the 80% range). As undergraduates, the class averaged a 3.6 GPA. The largest segments of the class majored in Business and Communications (28%) and Engineering (27%). Economics (15%), Life Sciences (8%), and Social Sciences (8%) majors are also heavily represented in the class.

As a whole, this class averages 5 years of work experience, with students ranging in age from 23-36. 26% of the class last worked in Financial Services, followed by Consulting (13%) and Technology (10%). The remainder of the class possesses experience in areas like Healthcare, Manufacturing, Consumer Goods, Energy, Non-Profits, Education, Retail, Media and Communications, Hospitality, and Logistics.


Not surprisingly, Toronto ranks among the most popular niceties in the MBA experience. Despite the 5.9 million people living in the Toronto metro, Kristy McGregor-Bales describes Hogtown as having “a charming small town feel to it.” It is also a highly diverse region, home to 250 ethnicities and 180 dialects, which makes for some distinct neighborhoods and delectable dishes. That creates a dynamic where everyone feels welcome and can find others who share common backgrounds.

“From the first day you arrive in Toronto, you are not a foreigner,” observes Keta Pavlenishvili. “No matter where you come from, you are the best fit here. You might hear about diversity and opportunities before coming, but you cannot embrace it in full until you arrive. Wherever you go, whatever you do, it just feels right to be here for literally anyone. I really enjoy that I cannot tell which country I am at, as the city is so diverse in every aspect – people, cuisine, celebrated festivals, and different cultures.”

And business…of course. Toronto ranks as the 2nd-largest financial center in North America – and 8th-largest in the world – according to The Banker. You could even describe Bay Street as Canada’s answer to Wall Street. The area is home to Canada’s five largest banks…not to mention the Toronto Stock Exchange. In recent years, Toronto has increasingly become a major player in tech, particularly life sciences and artificial intelligence.

“Toronto as a city has an important role in all the intensity surrounding AI innovation,” explains Dr. Peter Zhang, a 2022 Rotman MBA grad. “Not only does it have the highest concentration of AI startups, the University of Toronto’s academic prowess attracts and fosters AI talent from all over the world. In fact, the machine learning algorithm that powers ODAIA had been developed by Dr. Perikilis Andritsos and Dr. Gael Benard, who are researchers at the University of Toronto. Canada as a nation has also been highly supportive of AI growth. It was the first country to launch a national strategy on AI and has also produced the highest number of AI patents per capita when compared to China and other G7 countries.”

Creative Destruction Lab Group at Rotman


The Rotman MBA also benefits from the deep resources of the University of Toronto. Over the past decade, the university’s collective research has consistently placed among the top five globally according to the National Taiwan University ranking, which measures research output and impact across various fields. Notably, the University of Toronto scores high for innovation in areas like machine learning, pharmacology, and neuroscience. Two years ago, for example, the university launched its Temerty Centre for AI Research and Education in Medicine, an interdisciplinary effort to boost care through data science and technology. Rotman itself operates FinHub, a center that provides programming and support for students operating in the intersection between financial innovation and AI. Both align with a philosophy that prizes connecting disparate disciplines to bridge gaps and launch ventures.

“At Rotman, there’s a compelling balance between academic rigor, entrepreneurial hustle, and creative play that aligns well with my own personality and values,” notes Andrea Poile, a 2021 grad and P&Q Best & Brightest MBA. “We love challenging ideas and systems thinking here. Part of this comes from being surrounded by diverse faculty who are deeply passionate about what they do and have the autonomy to do their best work. I’m grateful to be part of a community that values innovation at every level – that understands the creative process can be unpredictable but is always worth the investment.”

Perhaps the most popular outlet for this is Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab (or CDL for short). Think of it as a startup incubator, where students partner with emerging firms to help them commercialize their research. Not only are MBAs immersed in technical and scientific concepts, but they can apply the lessons from their coursework to develop customer marketplaces or forge operational structures.

“I’m impressed with the Creative Destruction Lab,” writes Long Cao. “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.”

Joseph Milner


The CDL may highlight the Rotman marquee, but the school has kept busy with new and enhanced programming for MBAs. To learn more, P&Q reached out to Joseph Milner, Rotman’s Vice-Dean of MBA Programs and Professor of Operations Management. From new developments on campus to admissions “spike” factors, here are the important news about the Rotman MBA experience.

P&Q: What are the two most exciting developments at your program and how will they enrich the MBA experience for current and future MBAs?

Milner: “The Rotman MBA has accelerated the creation of innovative courses that speak to the challenges and opportunities our graduates will face – from challenges of climate change and concerns around sustainability, to rapidly changing financial markets, and from needs in healthcare in response to the pandemic, to developing services and products that spark joy. In the last year-and-a-half, we have developed courses such as Decentralized Finance, Machine Learning and Financial Innovation, Black North Initiative experience, Inclusive Global Development and Economic Prosperity, Impact Investing, Analytics in Financial Accounting, Healthcare Innovation, Creativity and Business Innovation, Corporate 360, Global Classroom: The Global Firm in a World of Trade Wars and a Pandemic, and Innovating Service Design. These courses join over 100 electives that are refreshed constantly to bring strategic and analytic insight gained through inquiry and study to novel issues. Current MBA students are already benefiting from these courses, even in the first year of their program where we have increased flexibility in our electives program. And future MBA’s should know that Rotman will continue to lead with new courses.

We’ve reimagined our career centre’s service model to pull together all of Rotman’s resources to ensure that students can take advantage of our portfolio of diverse talent to employers across industries. The new model has seen great payoffs already, as the School is receiving unprecedented interest from employers in Toronto and beyond and is seeing tremendous growth in emerging markets. Our Class of 2021 MBA graduates were part of a record-breaking MBA class – with 96% securing full-time employment three months after graduation. The career centre’s model can flex and grow as needed to adapt to changes in industry demands. In 2021 and the years ahead, the Career Services team continues to expand by creating global teams that focus on international markets such as New York City, the West Coast (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Vancouver), and Asia and Europe.

P&Q: What are two biggest differentiating features of your MBA program? How do each of these enrich the learning of your MBA students?

Milner: “Rotman is distinguished by its commitment to attracting outstanding and diverse students from across Canada and around the world. Women comprise 45% of this year’s entering Rotman class, and the class is 58% international. Over thirty-five different nationalities are represented with 27 different first languages. More than three-quarters of our students are bilingual and nearly a third speak three or more languages. This year 10% of our entering students are Black-identifying. Beyond the numbers, the School and students work to advocate for diversity in business. Much of the work is carried out by our students, through student clubs, including a range of cultural clubs such as LABUC (Latin American Business Club), the Asian Business Association, and the African and Caribbean Business Club. The Letters, welcomes members of the Rotman community who identify at LGBTQ. Rotman is the first Canadian business school to formally partner with the U.S.-based LGBT advocacy group Reaching Out MBA (ROMBA). Rotman is also a sponsor of the Forté Foundation promoting women in business.

Rotman is also distinguished by the integration of its MBA program with its research institutes. For example, The BMO Financial Research and Trading Lab develops innovative simulation-based teaching and curricula used by many schools around the world. The Business Design Initiative has created a sequence of elective courses and regularly creates independent study projects and global consulting opportunities for students to immerse themselves in challenging real-world business problems. The Rotman FinHub offers learning opportunities focused on financial innovation, including workshops on topics such as machine learning and blockchain, which are transforming financial services. FinHub is also a centre of scholarship and research, and a meeting place where students participate in industry projects. The TD Management Data and Analytics Lab is a resource hub for teaching and research in data science and artificial intelligence. The lab helps Rotman students, faculty, and industry partners manage big data applications and gain valuable insights using advanced analytical tools.”

Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto

P&Q: In recent years, there have been several areas that have gained increased prominence in business school programming, including STEM, analytics, artificial intelligence and digital disruption. How does your full-time MBA program integrate these concepts across its curriculum?

Milner: “The Rotman program is known for its strong leadership, financial, strategy, and analytics training. Growing out of our high-ranking Master of Management Analytics program, we have placed multiple courses within our MBA core and electives program. In the first year, students take a sequence of courses on data, models and statistics (including topics on machine learning). In our electives program,we have courses in analytics from all academic areas including from economics (Forecasting Models and Econometric Methods), operations and statistics (Data and Information Management, Modeling and Optimization, Management Analytics), finance (Machine Learning and Financial Innovation, Risk Modeling and Financial Trading Strategies), marketing (Marketing Research, Pricing, Digital Marketing), strategy (Advanced Value Capture), and accounting (Analytics in Financial Accounting). Much of the course work is supported by the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab. Each year over 100 of our students also take part in courses from Rotman’s Creative Destruction Lab, a venture accelerator where our students learn commercialization of cutting-edge technology including AI, Quantum, and Blockchain, in a unique entrepreneurial experience.”

P&Q: What makes Toronto specifically and Canada generally such a great place to earn an MBA? 

Milner: “Rotman’s location and connections are great assets. We’re part of the University of Toronto, a global centre of research and teaching excellence with leading scholars and programs in engineering, arts, science, law, medicine and more. Our school is at the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic, culturally diverse cities. We’re plugged into Canada’s commercial and financial hub, which creates vital connections and opportunities. And we benefit from being in a prosperous and inclusive country that embraces the many dimensions of diversity and is open to the world through trade, investment and immigration. Unlike other international and one-year MBA programs, all Rotman MBA graduates are eligible for a three-year Canadian work permit.  Students are eligible for this permit regardless of their area of study – whether it be strategy, leadership, analytics, or any of our 15 MBA majors or specializations.”

Rotman School of Management

P&Q: How does the MBA program connect students with expertise and opportunities in the larger Toronto area?

Milner: “We measure Rotman’s success by the many dimensions of our impact. At Rotman, we provide students ample ways to take the insights they are learning in the program and apply them to tackle the big problems of our time. The program provides students with opportunities to connect with local and global business leaders through its experiential education offerings, its distinctive Flexible Internship Program, and its research Centres, Institutes, and Labs. In addition, Rotman’s dedicated team of Career Services professionals have longstanding relationships with recruiters, HR leaders and other hiring executives locally and globally. The Career Services team facilitates events and networking opportunities year-round which connect our students with potential employers and industry professionals.”

P&Q: Business design is also a core component of the Rotman MBA. How is this integrated throughout the MBA program? Also, talk to us about some design-centered activities like DesignWorks and Design Bootcamps?

Milner: “Rotman is the only place where design education lives in the heart of a business school and is taught squarely inside its hallways. Over the past 15 years, we have been teaching, experimenting, and evolving our Business Design methodology into a leadership development curriculum. Rotman offers a wide range of academic offerings in the field of Business Design and offers an associated MBA major. In addition, Rotman’s Business Design Initiative (previously DesignWorks) is an education centre which brings together students, researchers and industry to tackle real-world business challenges to advance innovation practice and learning. The Initiative offers workshops, sprints, and other experiential learning opportunities focused on human-centered design and business innovation. Recent examples of projects are students have undertaken include Designing Hi-Performance Cultures (Scotiabank), Redesigning Life Insurance for Millennials (TD Insurance), and Rethinking Digital Security and Privacy for Families (Telus).”

Next Page: Profiles of 12 Toronto Rotman First-Years

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