The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is a “hot” school. The latest entering class of full-time MBAs is the largest, smartest (at least judging by their average GMAT scores) and most international ever.
Under Dean Roger Martin, the school carved out a reputation as one of the most innovative players in management education in the world. That has happened largely due to the confluence of three big decisions.
1) A focus on “integrative thinking” which is a core theme throughout the MBA curriculum. It’s the ability to assess and balance conflicting ideas, business models or strategies. As a partner at the consulting firm Monitor, Martin identified a pattern of problem-solving among his business clients that can be learned and developed. Rather than looking at what leaders did, he looked at how leaders thought.
2) Teaching “business design,” using commonly deployed design principles to jumpstart innovation in business settings. These are elective courses but are among the more creative offerings in any business school.
3) Intense personal development. Though nongraded and voluntary, a student participating in all the labs can get up to 60 hours of personal development work.
Several business schools assign MBA students coaches to help them with career planning decisions, but Rotman may well have the most far-reaching personal development initiative of any full-time MBA program in the world. The school now employs 18 full-time coaches, assigning every admit a coach in July and August before they show up on campus for the September start of the MBA program. The coaches then work with students over the entire two-year program. Students here are drilled on their presentation skills, prepped for interviews with such key employers as McKinsey & Co., and go through unlimited one-on-one sessions with coaches who cover everything from how to interview with corporate recruiters to how to negotiate a job offer.
Soon after becoming dean in 1998, Martin made the rounds of corporate recruiters. When he asked a large multinational why the company didn’t recruit the school’s MBAs, he was told: “You don’t have enough product.” At the time, the school’s annual intake of full-time MBAs was just 110. In 2014, Rotman’s entering MBA class was 350-strong–much more than other quality Canadian schools such as Queens (with a total full-time MBA enrollment of 117), Western Ontario (with 133), or McGill (with 145).
Size does matter because it leads to a larger, more influential alumni network–and brings more companies to campus to recruit students. Nike recently added Rotman to its recruiting list, the only Canadian school on it, and so did lululemon, the fast growing retailer of athletic wear for yoga and working out.
One very big appeal for international students is the fact that MBA graduates get a three-year work visa from Canada. If you have a spouse, it’s relatively easy for him or her to get a work visa while you study at Rotman. And it’s also relatively easy to gain permanent status during your three-year work visa due to the country’s liberal immigration policies.
It helps, too that Rotman is in downtown Toronto, Canada’s business capital and a world-class city, and part of the most prestigious university in the country, the University of Toronto. All in all, these are very positive signs that make Rotman a school on the move.
Rankings Analysis: The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is ranked as the 28th best business school outside the U.S. in Poets&Quants’ 2014 composite ranking. The school’s best ranking comes from BusinessWeek, which ranks full-time MBA programs largely on the basis of graduate satisfaction and corporate recruiter opinion. In 2014, BW placed the school 11th on its list of the best international business schools–a very impressive showing for Rotman.
The Financial Times, which in 2013 ranked Rotman 254h outside the U.S. and 53rd globally, gives the school its highest ranking for any school in Canada.