2022 MBA To Watch: Yehya Siddiqui, McGill University (Desautels)

Yehya Siddiqui

McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management

“I am a people connector, driven to learn and fueled by new challenges.”

Hometown: Srinagar, Kashmir, India

Fun fact about yourself: I had always wanted to obtain my skydiving license, but, after my first solo jump, I never wanted to do it again. I now have accumulated over 150 skydives. I am not one to walk away from a challenge and my commitment to facing my fears always pushes me forward.

Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor of Civil Engineering, University of Nottingham; Master of Science in Coastal & Oceanographic Engineering, University of Florida

Where was the last place you worked before enrolling in business school? I worked at Taylor Engineering, as a Practice Area Leader.

Where did you intern during the summer of 2021? My internship was at British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, in Victoria, BC.

Where will you be working after graduation? I’ll be joining TD as a Manager in their 2-year graduate leadership program.

Community Work and Leadership Roles in Business School:

  • VP of Finance, Desautels Graduate Student Society (DGSS)
  • VP of Finance, McGill Case Consulting Competition Association (MCCA)
  • Volumeter with O’ssiija – A Quebec-based charity that enables people with physical disabilities to explore Quebec’s river systems on adaptable paddle boards.
  • Recipient, Salvatore Iacono MBA Entrance Award
  • Recipient, Desautels MBA Entrance Award

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? I am particularly proud of assuming the role of VP Finance with the Desautels Graduate Student Society (DGSS). This role gave me the opportunity to interact with and build strong connections between students throughout Desautels’ various Master’s programs. I enjoyed seeking out opportunities to create events that catered to all students of the Desautels family. I worked hard in my position to make an impact.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? The last project I managed at Taylor Engineering showcased an innovative design solution where we were reduced project costs by nearly 50%, while having a significant positive impact on the environment. We used dredged material from a channel dredging project to build artificial islands that created habitat for birds and various marine wildlife. During construction, birds began nesting on the islands; I witnessed the benefits of this project immediately. There has always been a misconception that for a project to be environmentally-friendly, it will inherently cost more. I was able to prove cost cutting measures are a way to create added value, and I hope to continue employing these strategies in the private equity world.

Why did you choose this business school? One of the prime drivers for picking McGill was their Investment Management program. It gave me the opportunity to work at Desautels Capital Management (DCM), Canada’s first university-owned, student-run registered investment management firm. I gained first-hand, meaningful, and realistic experience in the investment management industry, overseeing funds with, at the time, approximately $7.5 million in assets. Another factor in my decision was the chance to live in Montreal, an incredible, vibrant, and extremely diverse city that has so much to offer.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I’ve asked myself this question several times and, in all honesty, I have been unable to draw a definitive conclusion. There are three professors who stood out to me: Sujata Madan, Sebastien Betermier and David Abramson. They all demonstrate passion and enthusiasm in their teaching and take valuable time out of their days to give incredible advice and help students build a path to success. Most importantly, they are extremely knowledgeable about their area of expertise. There is never a dull moment in their classes.

What was your favorite MBA event or tradition at your business school The Desautels Graduate Women’s Association (DGWA)’s Faculty & Friends Mixer brought professors, alumni, and students from across Desautels’ Master’s programs together to discuss stereotypes we encounter in all areas of life. It was refreshing to meet people I didn’t previously know in a well-organized and engaging context. For me, this event encapsulated the Desautels family experience.

Looking back over your MBA experience, what is the one thing you’d do differently and why? Although I spent a decade living in the United States prior to starting the MBA, I never realized how much French was an integral part of my northern neighbor, particularly in Quebec. Being able to communicate in another language has not only opened a plethora of opportunities, but it has improved my multitasking, attention-control, problem-solving and creative thinking skills as they promote outside-the-box thinking. I am well on my way to learning French, but had I known it earlier, I would have spent more time learning this beautiful language to give myself a competitive edge. I honestly believe adding French as an optional class in the MBA program would be immensely beneficial to the students.

What is the biggest myth about your school? I had the impression that business school was going to have a cutthroat competitive environment. Although my peers and I were competing for the same jobs, they have been my biggest supporters along the way.

What surprised you the most about business school? The quality of the McGill Desautels professors. I completely expected a top-tier university like McGill to have top-tier professors, but I was always pleasantly surprised at just how truly incredible they were. My professors were knowledgeable and passionate, and genuinely cared about the well-being of their students.

What is one thing you did during the application process that gave you an edge at the school you chose? For the interview with the admissions office, I flew to Montreal to do it in-person. McGill was first-choice school and I hoped that this extra step would demonstrate how much I wanted to get in. Fortunately for me, it did.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Scott Brereton. I have always viewed entrepreneurs as the real daredevils. They have the courage to go on their own and start an enterprise from scratch. I would have long discussions with Scott, whereby he would talk about his next endeavour. He was always coming up with the most imaginative and innovative ideas — ideas that would have never crossed my mind. I am continuously impressed by his creativity, strong business skills, and his extreme depth of knowledge in the technology sector. To date, I have not met anyone who reads more newspapers, articles, journals, and books than Scott does. He inspires me and has played a pivotal part in my MBA journey.

Who most influenced your decision to pursue business in college? Lori Brownell, my manager at Taylor Engineering. Lori continuously pushed me to grow and expand. I was contemplating getting an MBA, but was hesitant to pull the trigger. She gave me the impetus to go for it.

What are the top two items on your professional bucket list? I would like to be directly involved in a major infrastructure project and I would love to one day teach a class at a university level.

How has the pandemic changed your view of a career? The global move towards a non-traditional work format has enabled me to pick a career where I can pursue the same jobs I was interested in before but with greater flexibility. This gives me the opportunity to see my family back in Kashmir, as well as enjoy my other life’s passions, which include surfing, skydiving, snowboarding, kiteboarding and scuba diving.

What made Yehyasuch an invaluable addition to the Class of 2022?

“What’s not to like about Yehya? From the perspective of an employer, a peer, a colleague, a teacher, a supervisor or a coach…He’s well-rounded, conscious of the environment and of others, and genuine. He’s always eager to try new things, whether it be seeking high-adrenaline sport activities or new, challenging job opportunities. He embraces everything Canada has to offer, including the snow and cold weather! He even got to experience British Columbia during an internship in Victoria. What made Yehya an invaluable addition to the Class? He’s a reliable, spontaneous, and enthusiastic team player. He’s always available to and a strong supporter of others. Thankfully, he put his plans to become a surf instructor on the west coast on hold in order to consider the numerous options that will be available to him upon graduation. Thanks to his solid financial and technical skills and his project management and interpersonal competencies, Yehya will continue to surprise us all — including himself!”

Anne-Jennifer Challard
McGill Desautels MBA Career Coach


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