Meet Toronto Rotman’s MBA Class Of 2025

Clean and friendly. Open-minded and forward thinking. A business hub and a cultural center.

That’s Toronto: home to 10 million people in the Golden Horseshoe. A city of immigrants, picture 250 nationalities along the banks of Lake Ontario. It is the center of Canadian finance, technology, education, arts, and media. More than that, Toronto is a place where you can be who you are – and there is always a community that shares your experience and embraces your values. And the food – from Italian to Indian to Indonesian – ranks among the best in the world!

Toronto skyline from the lake

A TECH AND BANKING MECCA

Some celebrate Toronto for its four distinct seasons, a reminder of the fluidity of time and nature. Others are attracted to the area’s high quality of living, including an inclusive atmosphere, low pollution, quality healthcare, and family-friendly green spaces. For MBA students, Toronto boasts a creative spirit and deep business infrastructure that offer a wealth of possibilities.

Take banking. Toronto is the headquarters of Canada’s five largest banks: BMO, CIBC, Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, and TD Canada Trust. In fact, Toronto is considered the #2 financial center in North America. Among corporate heavyweights, Toronto is the Canadian main office for Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Intel, Cisco, Shopify, Meta, and Hewlett Packard (among others). More than that, the Toronto-Waterloo corridor along Highway 401 has been dubbed “Silicon Valley North” with over 4,000 tech startups and 300,000 tech workers. In fact, Startup Genome pegs South Ontario’s startup ecosystem as being worth $74.1 billion dollars – or 2.5 times larger than the average large metro. The city of Toronto itself features over 65 technology business incubators and accelerators – not to mention over 200,000 college students.

That includes the 266 full-time MBA students who make up the Class of 2025 at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Among the class, Toronto’s diversity made an impression. Seren Yazici, a Google product manager from Turkey, noted that 200 languages are spoken in Toronto. This, she says, “immerses one in a dynamic range of human stories, values, and expressions.” Even more, adds Nigeria’s Busayo Ladapo, Toronto “mirrors” the global marketplace, giving Rotman MBAs an edge in thriving on international roles and teams.

“The city’s multicultural neighborhoods provide a mini-tour of the world, offering insights into consumer behaviors across different cultures that are invaluable for my businesses and relationships.”

Rotman graduates join an extensive global network of alumni. Recently, the Hong Kong group gathered for a Saturday afternoon hike.

FINDING YOUR PEOPLE

At the same time, Toronto’s cosmopolitan spirit enables international students – who account for 70% of the 2025 class – to acclimate more easily to their new locale, says Sepide Saeid Monajemian, a marketer from Iran.

“When you enter a new city as an immigrant, finding the people with common interests and building your own specific network from scratch is very challenging. What surprised me the most about Toronto was that there are various events held in the city that allow you to engage with diverse individuals in various fields and take part in activities that you enjoy the most. For example, so far, I have had the opportunity to participate in many startup and technology events, even some dance and music events, which made my days in Toronto more colorful, and were significant help to build my own network again.”

In contrast, several first-years found comfort in the city’s landmarks and activities. Saket Bathla, an Indian project manager at JP Morgan Chase, marvels at the Toronto skyline, particularly the 1,800-foot CN Center when it is lit up. His classmate and countrywoman, Sakshi Lahori, has been taking advantage of the region’s outdoor activities since starting at Rotman.

“Over the past year, my explorations have included cycling in the Toronto Islands, trick-or-treating in Toronto neighbourhoods on Halloween, hiking in the scenic Scarborough Bluffs, canoeing in the lakes of Muskoka, road-tripping around Niagara-on-the-Lake, walking around the picturesque town of Elora, and shopping in the Christmas markets of Blue Mountain.”

The Rotman School is located in downtown Toronto.

A CITY OF NEIGHBORHOODS

Sirun Wang, a 2024 graduate, clicks off her Saturday itinerary, which includes a Persian brunch in Kensington Market, followed by shopping in the Queen West boutiques and walking along the Ontario lakeshore at dusk. Adrianna Noble, a 2024 P&Q Best & Brightest MBA, loved the neighborhoods, architecture, and activities in the city.

“It’s unique to find a city that has such distinctive and plentiful cultural neighbourhoods, ranging from Little Portugal, Little Jamaica, Ukrainian Village, Greektown, and Koreatown, in addition to Little Italy and Chinatown. Toronto’s neighborhoods, from the distinct downtown core and financial district (Hollywood’s favourite imitation New York City) to the eclectic shops of Kensington Market, and suburban neighbourhoods like the Annex make Toronto truly unique. As an architecture fan, the diverse mix of buildings and artistic displays (I personally am a fan of the ROM’s infamous Crystal Shard) leads residents and visitors alike to learn about interesting historical stories and anecdotes that give the city a special feel. In addition, while I am biased from growing up as an athlete, you won’t find another city this sport-crazy – the city comes alive the night of any game from one of our major sports teams.”

Coming to Toronto, the Class of 2025 had racked up an impressive series of achievements. Dare Adeyemo completed every level of the CFA, despite working punishing 60-75 weeks at the investments field. At a top consulting firm, Sakshi Lahori gained the reputation for being a subject matter expert in behavioral assessments. In Nigeria, Busayo Ladapo made the transition from being a chemist to being a CEO.

“My biggest accomplishment in my career so far has been transforming my passion into three successful global businesses: a revolutionary skincare line, a trendsetting fashion label, and a premium hair extensions brand. Each venture started as a dream to empower young women across the world with products that make them feel confident and beautiful, while celebrating our rich African heritage. What makes this journey extraordinary is not just the successful scaling of these businesses in under five years in fiercely competitive markets, but also the incredible impact we have been able to create. The real power of these achievements lies in the messages from women around the globe who feel seen, valued, and confident through our products.”

Prof. Francesco Bova (right) leads a discussion on quantum computing and AI with Rotman alumni at the annual Rotman Reunites event in 2023, which is open to all alumni and current students.

IMPACT AT GOOGLE AND JP MORGAN CHASE

Looking for impressive credentials? Start with Seren Yazici. At Google, she spearheaded launching YouTube in Turkey…during COVID, no less. “My focus was the platform’s business recovery efforts, which involved defining new growth opportunities, challenging common norms in digital ads, and pivoting our ads marketing approach in response to the rapidly changing advertising landscape. These programs and our collective team efforts resulted in the highest-ever engagement scores among our targeted clients and maximized revenue opportunities.”

And if you want to know the go-to person in the Class of 2025, consider Saket Bathla. Shortly after joining a three-member JP Morgan Chase team responsible for client service, Bathla saw his manager and co-worker department the firm – making him the only person with operational knowledge.

“Stepping up to the plate, I transitioned into a leadership role, taking charge of operations in Bangalore. Despite the unexpected departures, I ensured project continuity through strategic decision-making and effective delegation of tasks based on team members’ strengths. I helped the team grow from 3 members to more than 15 members across 2 geographies Additionally, I played a pivotal role in training new team members, including the incoming reporting manager, contributing to the overall success of the project.”

The BMO Financial Group Financial Research and Trading Lab

THE VALUE OF CASE COMPETITIONS

Once on campus, some of the class’s best memories involved case competitions. Dare Adeyemo, for one, looks back fondly on winning TD Bank’s M&A case competition with his teammates from India and Nigeria. For Momoko Ishida – who describes herself as a “makeup geek, coffee addict, and a sitcom nerd” – it was the case experience more than the result that made the time so valuable.

“Whether you win or not, you learn how to frame and solve problems in different verticals and how to work with people you have never worked with before, under significant time constraints. I learned a lot about my strengths as well as shortcomings through working with different teams in the competitions.”

Dare Adeyemo’s best moment came during a come-from-behind victory in intramural soccer. Dressing up for Diwali Night was the highlight for Sakshi Lahori, not to mention indulging in delicacies like Pisco Sours and Jollof Rice at various Toronto eateries. Similarly, Seren Yazici will never forget one particular night at a Turkish restaurant.

“Nearly 20 people gathered around one long table, representing over 10 different countries. In Türkiye, food goes beyond satisfying hunger; it expresses hospitality and fosters deeper social connections. Together, we shared stories, laughter, and, of course, delicious food accompanied by Turkish coffee and discovered numerous commonalities that exist despite our diversities.”

Rotman Meeting

A MEMORABLE FIRST YEAR

Who could forget the class retreat to Camp Winnebagoe near Fox Lake for orientation? “Engaging in numerous activities, the pinnacle was undoubtedly the spirited Great Section Race,” writes Saket Bathla. “All four sections participated in over 10 activities, from kayaking (and witnessing amusing kayak mishaps) to leaping into the lake and gathering around a bonfire in the freezing cold. We danced, sang, and, in the process, formed lasting friendships.”

In some cases, just making it to the Rotman School was the best memory, says Sepide Saeid Monajemian. “Seeing the university’s building and logo that says, “Here’s where it changes,” I realized it was actually happening! There I was, pursuing my favorite major at one of the best business schools in the world. When I entered the building, I heard the buzz of the crowd and was surprised to see many new classmates with diverse backgrounds and achievements. When we were given our name tags, I felt proud of myself that all the efforts I had put in had finally paid off.”

That said, it hasn’t been easy for Saeid Monajemian. “Adapting to recent major changes in my life has been my greatest accomplishment [at Rotman} so far,” she adds. “I have been attending a program in a different language, which required dedicating much more time to each course, networking in a different environment with new people and a new culture, making friends, and more. All have been very challenging. There were many grey days when I felt down, and there were many more colorful days when I was full of hope and eagerness to keep pushing forward. Therefore, in my opinion, my most significant success so far has been the ability to persevere, adapt, and develop a habit of exploring different paths. This has transformed me into a new person who has much more confidence in herself.”

Rotman MBA Students

A CLASS PROFILE

As a whole, 49% of the class consists of women, with 79% of the class born outside Canada. True to Toronto’s cosmopolitan culture, the class speaks 37 languages, including 46% of the class who speak two languages and 15% who’ve mastered three. 8% of the identifies as LGBTQ, while 10% are categorized as “Black or Indigenous.”

Collectively, the class averaged a 672 GMAT. 10% of the scores fell below 630, while aother 10% reached 720 or above. At the same time, the class averaged a 3.6 undergraduate GPA. On average, the class is 28 years old, through the number stretches from 21-to-36. In addition, 16 class members are pursuing a joint MBA-JD. Another 43 students received Forte fellowships, followed by 10 students earning Creative Destruction Lab fellowships.

As undergraduates, the largest segment of the class – 34% – majored in Business or Commerce. Another 20% hold degrees in Engineering, followed by Economics at 14%. Math and Computer Science (5%), Life Sciences (4%), Social Sciences (4%), and Applied Sciences (3%) also represent substantive shares of the class. Professionally, consultants and financial services professionals make up 29% and 28% of the class respectively, followed by Technology (17%), Healthcare (6%), Legal (6%), and Consumer Products (5%).

Each year at the end of August before classes start, students take part in Orientation hosted by Rotman faculty and designed to set the foundation for their academic experience.

INTEGRATIVE THINKING

What makes the Rotman MBA so different from other programs? It starts with integrative thinking being the central force behind the curriculum. Think of it as synthesis, bringing together a variety of divergent viewpoints and pulling out the best aspects of each to create a holistic approach that maximizes its benefits across a wider spectrum of stakeholders. Busayo Ladapo compares it to an orchestra conductor, who is “ensuring all different instruments play in harmony.” In practice, Dare Adeyemo believes integrative thinking is a process that “minimize(s) unintended consequences.” By the same token, Momoko Ishida boils it down to approaching a problem from various angles. By “staying curious and keeping an open mind”, she adds, integrative thinking enables you to “stumble onto something that lets you see things you didn’t previously.”

In fact, Sakshi Lahori would argue that integrative thinking turns how we process information upside down. “Human minds, when presented with two perspectives, tend to instinctively prioritize one over the other, often opting for simplicity over complexity. However, after coming to Rotman, I learnt that complexity, ambiguity, and conflict can be powerful tools to create something new, something powerful. Rotman has seamlessly tied integrative thinking into students’ journeys. Engaging in academic teams, case competitions, and group study sessions, I found that everyone thinks differently. When we come together to deconstruct and rethink a problem, different possibilities emerge.”

Even more, adds Seren Yazici, integrative thinking serves as a tonic for some of the toughest hurdles in business “For me, integrative thinking is particularly effective in navigating ambiguity because our world often involves incomplete information. This method empowers our academic team by fostering an openness to new possibilities, encouraging the exploration of diverse perspectives and the synthesis of opposing alternatives, ultimately leading to the creation of something better.”

Next Page: An interview with Joseph Milner and in-depth profiles of 10 members of the Class of 2025.

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