Meet The MBA Class Of 2023: Jeff Smith, Ivey Business School

Jeff Smith

Ivey Business School at Western University

“Competitive, strategic, and analytical, or as LPO class would put it, a “North-West”.”

Hometown: Oakville, ON

Fun Fact About Yourself: During the pandemic I adopted a Bengal cat named Gigi who turned me into a cat lover and die-hard Cincinnati Bengals fan.

Undergraduate School and Major: Western, Financial Modeling & Psychology.

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: A10K Inc., Underwriter

How has the case method enriched your learning?  The case method has enriched my learning by giving real concrete examples of the class material. It is one thing to understand a framework, but using that framework every day provides a whole new level of understanding. After a few months nearly every new case we do has aspects that relate to a situation we have learned about in a previous class, and it really helps tie all our classes together. Outside of the classroom, it gives a whole new perspective on current events and industry trends. You will be shocked at how frequently you read something in the news and immediately relate it back to a case you learned about in class. The case method approach has been one of the best learning experiences of my life.

Aside from classmates and cases, what part of the school’s MBA programming led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? One aspect that set Ivey apart for me that I don’t think gets talked about enough in recruiting is the 24-hour reports done in our learning teams. Essentially, you are in a team of 6 people and are given a 4,000-word report that is due 24-hours later. While it might sound a little overwhelming, it really is an enjoyable learning experience. Having such a large amount of work to do in such a small timeframe forces you to rely on your teammates, and the pressure brings out the best in everyone. Some of the best memories I have from core 1 are sitting in breakout rooms frantically editing our reports in the final minutes before they are due.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I come from an insurance background, and it is easy to get caught up in the numbers and spend your days chasing premium. Early in my career, my boss gave me the opportunity to create a bespoke agricultural insurance product unlike anything in the Canadian market. After months of hard work, I was able to secure capacity for that product from the Lloyd’s market and begin selling it to Canadian farmers. While it wasn’t a million-dollar product, it was a great tool to get our foot in the door and meet new clients.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: Throughout core 1, I did my best to help teach my classmates everything they need to know to pass the Decision Making with Analytics (DMA) final exam. I take a lot of pride in helping others, and to see so many of my classmates reach their full potential in a course outside of their comfort zone was a great feeling.

Where is your favorite hang-out in London (Ontario)? Why do you (or your classmates) gravitate there? My favorite hangout in London is Jack’s. In undergrad, it was for the cheap drinks; in grad school, it is for the cheap wings.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you enjoyed and would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? How To Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie. So much of the MBA program is based on personal connections with your classmates, professors, or prospective employers. A lot of the lessons in this book will seem like common sense, but it is a great refresher, and you will be surprised how much you learn about yourself and the way that you interact with others.

What did you do during the application process that enabled you to get accepted into Ivey? Picked up the phone and called the recruiting team. Admissions decisions are made by people, and nothing goes further than a personal connection. GPA, work experience etc., are important, but a good conversation can really go a long way.


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