The Full-Time MBA class of 2020 takes on Toronto’s most pressing issues, looks forward to the journey ahead
October 1, 2018
On her third day at Rotman — before her first semester of the MBA program officially began and after only a few days in Toronto — Sophia Duncan (MBA ’20) found herself tackling the issue of gun violence.
That morning, she and her classmates headed to Scadding Court Community Centre, located in a downtown Toronto neighbourhood that was growing increasingly concerned by the number of recent shootings in the city. After meeting with the executive director and program director at the centre, Duncan and her teammates went on to explore some of the root causes of gun violence and put together a strategy — with support from McKinsey consultants — for improving safety in the community. And some of her classmates proceeded to present their ideas to Scadding Court.
“It was a real challenge coming up with ideas that were meaningful and effective. We all hoped that the recommendations we put together might be helpful,” says Duncan.
“The assignment served as a reminder to all of us that we’re coming into the MBA with a unique set of skills and experiences, but each of us have so much to learn.”
“After seeing how Rotman prioritizes social impact and sustainability, I know that I’m in the right place.”
— Sophia Duncan (MBA ’20)
This five-day consulting experience is the first of many difficult but deeply rewarding projects these students will take on over the course of their MBA program. And this year’s incoming Full-Time MBA class is up for all the challenges ahead — and making the most of their time at Rotman.
It’s clear that the Full-Time MBA class of 2020 is impressive: this cohort is comprised of medical doctors, lawyers, professional engineers, CFA level III designation holders, entrepreneurs, former professional athletes and other high-performing professionals. These MBA candidates have come from all over the world, including Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, England, Russia and India. Collectively, the class speaks over 20 different languages.
For Duncan, she walked away from her first week at the School impressed by her classmates — and confident in her decision to pursue the Rotman MBA.
“I didn’t really expect this from a business school,” says Duncan, who worked primarily on food access and youth development initiatives in Vermont, before pursing the MBA. “To hear our program directors and professors explain how social impact and sustainability was such a priority at the School, and to see so many of my classmates work so collaboratively on their projects reassured me that I was in the right place.”
After the MBA, Duncan plans to return to the non-profit sector armed with a solid understanding of finance, accounting and operations. She was initially drawn to Rotman because of its flexible structure in the second year, and its numerous hands-on learning opportunities.
“I’m looking forward to getting a solid foundation in business during my first year,” says Duncan. “But I’m most excited about second-year electives, like the CityLab Fellowship and the OnBoard Fellowship Program, where we’ll be able to go into the communities and make an impact. This is why I came to Rotman.”
Focusing on finance
Other MBA ’20 students, like Long Nguyen (MBA ’20), are approaching their Rotman experience with a different focus.
Before pursuing the MBA, Nguyen spent the last four years in New York — first working in investment banking at JP Morgan, then moving to a small private equity fund. Though he enjoyed his work and was progressing in the industry, he knew there was a lot he had to learn to advance further in his career.
“From my experience working in finance, I know that making good investments requires more than just understanding financial models,” explains Nguyen. “So much about investing is about working productively in a team and having top-notch leadership skills.”
He saw the MBA as a way to enhance these skills, expand this network and to learn about other areas of business beyond finance, including operations, marketing and accounting.
Taking part in the MBA program kickoff activities and the consulting challenge confirmed his thinking.
“This is where I’m hoping to make lifelong friendships and establish a strong network.”
-Long Nguyen (MBA ’20)
“The experience was transformational for most of us,” he explains. “I could see how the McKinsey framework for approaching problems could be applicable to any industry.”
There’s no doubt in his mind that he’s in the right place.
“Coming to Rotman, which is embedded in a big — and growing — financial centre was a logical decision,” he explains. “It’s a great city to build a future and pursue professional opportunities.”
In the next two years, he’s also looking forward to focusing on finance courses and meeting like-minded classmates through clubs like the Rotman Finance Association and the Rotman Asset Management Association.
“Already, after just a few days at the School, I know I’ll be studying alongside many very intelligent people with a broad range of interests and experiences,” he said. “This is where I’m hoping to make lifelong friendships and establish a strong network.”
Taking on the tech sector
Ana Lobo (MBA ’20) is also impressed by her classmates and the bonds that she’s already formed during her first week at the School.
“Through the project work, a community dinner and networking activities, we really got to know each other so quickly and on such a deep level,” says Lobo, who toured a city shelter and developed a strategy with her classmates for the City of Toronto’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration (SSHA), for her consulting assignment.
“It was a rewarding first week and it really set the tone for the program. I couldn’t imagine a better way to start the MBA.”
In addition to building a strong network at Rotman and in Toronto, Lobo — who is a Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) fellow — is also looking forward to exploring the start-up and tech spaces in Toronto.
“Studying at a school that values innovation was crucial to me — not to mention that Toronto is a hub for tech and entrepreneurship,” says Lobo, who has a background in engineering.
“Studying at a school that values innovation was crucial to me.”
-Ana Lobo (MBA ’20)
Before coming to Rotman, she worked on strategic and business development projects for a growth venture based in Panama. She has previously worked in various other industries, including renewable energy and supply chain management, across Latin America.
She is particularly interested in pursuing projects in Business Design, working with the CDL and connecting with leaders in AI, machine learning and healthcare innovation in Toronto.
“I think everyone in the class is excited about the next two years,” she says. “Regardless of our individual career goals or professional interests, we’re all interested in becoming better, more impactful leaders.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »