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Meet Juliana Kwong Seymour, MBA '02

Juliana Kwong Seymour is one of more than 250 alumni who returned to Rotman in October to celebrate their Reunion Year (years ending in ‘2’ and ‘7’ + 2016) with her classmates. She also joined the broader Rotman community at Reunite@Rotman homecoming celebration. We spoke with Juliana about her experience reconnecting with the old friends and her alma mater.

Juliana Kwong Seymour

You attended your Reunion Year celebration as well as Reunite@Rotman, could you share three highlights from your experience?

  • Reconnecting with classmates whose Return on Friendship (ROF) has been high and steady for 15 years. Over the years, my classmates and I have played on a women’s soccer team together, shared maternity leave and, since 2000, participated in a Rotman theatre group.
  • It was timely that Professor Sarah Kaplan chaired a panel on Equal Pay Day when I was in the midst of a recent salary negotiation. I attended and approached her for advice.  It was amazing to be able to thank her at Reunite@Rotman for her advice and encouragement, which resulted in a successful outcome.
  • Reminiscing over dinner about how 16 of us from the Class of 2002 met up in Thailand after convocation to celebrate the end of two great years together.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career background.

I transitioned from banking to pharmaceuticals when I was recruited to Novartis Pharmaceuticals through Rotman’s Career Centre.  A highlight of my pharma adventure was the opportunity to launch a blockbuster brand across 11 countries in Asia-Pacific for GlaxoSmithKline. Eric Tse, also a Rotman alumnus, first recruited me to Novartis and later hired me into Marketing at Bausch+Lomb. He is now the General Manager of Shire Pharma where I am currently a Regional Sales Manager leading our team for Ontario & Atlantic Canada.  I love working at Shire because of the people and rare disease focus.  Ophthalmics is an amazing space where science and business come together to help patients see and live better.

How has your career path shifted?

When I first started with RBC Royal Bank after undergrad, I anticipated that I would retire from the bank.  My 15 years in pharmaceuticals has been turbulent as M&A activity kept transforming my workplace.  Although I have been restructured three times, each gift of time resulted in a better opportunity.  A CEO friend advised, “During the chaos of change - run towards adversity with calm enthusiasm and you will differentiate yourself from other leaders

What were the three most important lessons you learned while at Rotman?

  • Professor Ramy Elitzur told us that the MBA would be challenging and would stretch us because if it was easy we would not feel like we got our money’s worth
  • In first year, I struggled with statistics and fondly remember Professor Uli Menzefricke saying to me that when you are learning a new language it is best to practice with people who are already fluent.  Now I use those statistical skills every day at work.
  • When Lorna Borenstein (former CEO of eBay) spoke during our graduating year, she said “Ladies – you can have it all but not at the same time.  Outsource as much as you can.”  When she recently spoke again at Rotman 15 years later, I thanked her for her sage advice as my Women in Management alumni and I juggle career advancement, family life and personal fulfillment. 

What does being a Rotman alumnus mean to you?

I am proud to be a Rotman MBA alumnus.  I was on a Toronto-Vancouver flight with other Rotman alumni for a Whistler ski trip.  The admissions team recognized me and asked if I could speak at an info session.  Some candidates chose Rotman and were impressed that alumni cared enough about their alma mater to meet with potential candidates during their holidays.