Meet the MBA Class of 2024: Alexandra (Alex) Foty, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Alexandra (Alex) Foty

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

“Endlessly searching for ways to explore and understand the world around me.”

Hometown: Oakville, Ontario

Fun Fact About Yourself: I am ambidextrous, which comes in “handy” for long exams. I prefer to draw with my left hand and write with my right.

Undergraduate School and Major: McGill University, Bachelor of Engineering (Mining) – 2016

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Newcrest Mining Ltd., Business Analyst – Business Development (M&A)

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? We often hear people say emotion should be detached from analytical or critical thinking, but this isn’t accurate. Emotions play a crucial role in our decision-making processes, regardless of whether we are conscious of their influence. Understanding how our emotions influence our own unique subjective realities and decision-making processes, encouraging others to do so, and revisiting the problem at hand, is a crucial aspect of the critical thinking process and thus effective problem solving.

Our brains are conservation machines. We experience a strong sense of discomfort when presented with information that counters our existing beliefs and what we believe we know to be true. When we mistake this internal distress as intuition, we can circumvent the most important aspects of critical thinking. We can be drawn to make choices, or follow courses of action, that align with our pre-existing model of correct vs. incorrect. If we can instead sit long enough with this dissonance to understand where the discomfort is coming from and what previous experiences and attitudes may be influencing our “intuition”, we can pull ourselves out of this tempting trap and move toward integrative thinking.

Rotman regularly hosts Speaker Series hosted by influential though leaders across a wide range of disciplines. I recently attended a book launch lead by David McRaney. His latest book, How Minds Change: The Surprising Science of Believe, Opinion, and Persuasion, David dives into the science of how we form and update our opinions. David captures the interdependence of emotion and cognition in problem solving when he writes, “When expectations are thwarted, when you don’t get what you want, when your predictions fail, you enter into a state of learning in which you carefully update your model. But the brain only wants to resolve the dissonance.”

What has been your favorite part of Toronto so far? Why? I have moved away from and returned to Toronto a few times over the past decade. Each time I have returned, I have found the city becoming more diverse and inclusive of different cultures. There is so much to explore and learn about the different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives of the people who call Toronto home. Rotman places a great emphasis on creating a diverse and inclusive student cohort which I believe is essential for creating an environment where students can develop the necessary skills to become global leaders in their chosen fields.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of Toronto Rotman’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? The program differentiates itself from other leading business schools through its second year “Emphases” which allows students to focus their studies toward a particular area of interest. I was specifically attracted to the ability to tailor my electives toward an emphasis in Social Impact and Sustainability in my second year.

I have spent the past six years in various roles in mining capital markets, but I knew I needed to further my knowledge of sustainable investment practices to understand the challenges and opportunities facing global mining companies as they adapt to the ever-changing regulatory and reporting landscape. Poor ESG practices can cause long-term damage to mining companies at every stage of their operational cycle; future industry leaders must understand how to create sustainable value for all stakeholders throughout the mining value chain.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Toronto Rotman? My favourite course so far has been “Leading People in Organizations”, one of the core courses all Rotman MBA students take in their first term. We explored a variety of leadership and management models and carefully examined reasons why some leaders fail to create and sustain high performing teams. Our lectures were interactive, engaging, and vibrant, undoubtedly owing to our professor’s authentic desire to bring the material alive through thought provoking case studies. This course is a great example of Rotman’s focus on experiential learning and its commitment to preparing students to become effective, responsible leaders.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: Before enrolling at Rotman, I spent three years living and working in Melbourne, Australia. I moved from Toronto to Melbourne to join Newcrest Mining Ltd. as an M&A Business Analyst in the Business Development team. My biggest accomplishment in this role (and career thus far), was leading the financial modelling workstream and supporting multiple due diligence undertakings for Newcrest’s C$3.5B corporate acquisition of Pretium Resources, a producing gold miner in BC, Canada. I gained a thorough understanding of the complexities associated with carrying out international M&A in the mining sector, deepening my passion for corporate strategy in the process. I also loved how our team motivated each other forward through the challenging hurdles and long hours. It was truly a rewarding experience to be part of such a significant deal that directly influenced the Canadian mining landscape.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far? When I decided to pursue my MBA, I made a commitment to myself that I would use this unique chapter in my life and career to explore interests and passions that may have gone previously undiscovered. When I reflect on my time as an undergraduate student, I recognize I put too much emphasis on attaining high grades, often neglecting other important elements of my education and personal development. A few years ago, I started reflecting deeply on understanding what motivates me to keep studying and working toward my future career goals. Through this process I uncovered the importance of learning how to celebrate my own accomplishments rather than relying on external approval to feel validated and fulfilled. My biggest accomplishment in my MBA so far has been keeping this commitment to myself by taking a holistic approach to my professional development, both academically and personally.

What has been your best memory as an MBA so far? In keeping with its emphasis on experiential learning, Rotman offers seemingly endless student Case Competitions, encompassing various subject areas within capital markets. Students have the opportunity to work with leading Canadian and international firms to solve legitimate business problems. In November, I participated in a joint student Case Competition hosted by Rotman Energy & Natural resources Association (RENRA) and Rotman Net Impact (RNI) and sponsored by Algonquin Power & Utilities. The case required teams to develop nine ambitious yet realistic interim ESG targets for Algonquin to commit to as they progress toward their goal of achieving “Net Zero Emissions” by 2050. It is not an exaggeration to say I learned as much about ESG strategy and reporting frameworks as I might have in an intensive elective course. I’m incredibly proud of the hours and effort my team poured into this challenge and am delighted to report we won first place!

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into Toronto Rotman’s MBA program? The MBA application process can be stressful. The admissions essays and interviews can seem daunting, but the admissions committee just want to get a sense for your personality and how you can bring a unique perspective to the cohort. To tackle the essay, my advice would be to highlight your professional experience and demonstrate your leadership potential. Show how you have taken on responsibility, made an impact, and grown in your career. If you’re still early on in your career journey, demonstrate how you have made a commitment to developing your personal and professional leadership. Identify the areas in which you would like to develop and how a Rotman MBA could help you achieve that.

During the interview process, showcase your ability to think critically and articulate your ideas by drawing from your unique personal experiences. Demonstrate a willingness to embrace challenges and collaborate with others. Craft an application that is tailored to Rotman’s unique program attributes and demonstrates your distinctive qualifications. Focus on why you are a good fit for the program and how you will contribute to the Rotman community in an authentic and genuine way. Finally, have fun with the process and keep an open mind – you may learn a lot about yourself as you answer the questions as to why you want to pursue an MBA at Rotman.


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