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From Toronto to New York: Four MBA grads share how and why they landed jobs in NYC

May 27, 2021

Dream of taking your career to New York? Good news: Rotman School graduates who landed roles in New York say the number of opportunities and alumni in the city continues to grow.

Four years after graduating from Rotman, Hana Dhanji (JD/MBA ’17) returned in 2021 to help more Rotman students land opportunities in New York. As the School’s new business development manager, Dhanji and the Career Services team are committed to sourcing even more job opportunities in New York and tailoring support for students keen on a career in the city — helping with the recruitment process, navigating visas and networking in a fast-paced city.

“We’re here to ensure students know what the career pipeline looks like in New York and how they can make the most out of the opportunities there,” says Dhanji.

In April 2022, Rotman hosted its first virtual career trek focused on opportunities in New York. Students from various programs connected with Rotman alumni in finance, consulting, technology and real estate to learn more about what it’s like working and living in the city.

“Rotman has always enjoyed a global presence. Today’s marketplace offers an even greater opportunity for our talented graduates to expand their reach,” said Dean Susan Christoffersen at the two-day event.

“It may be overwhelming to think about a job in a different country, but there are so many benefits. The fast-paced nature of New York will accelerate that professional and personal journey. Many employers tell us how favorably they look upon candidates who have experience in diverse and global work environments,” added Christoffersen. 

Here’s what four Rotman grads had to say about building a career in NYC.

David Ward (MBA ’20) on New York’s competitive consulting world

After nearly seven years working in finance, Ward completed his MBA at Rotman with a focus on strategy and consulting. When he negotiated his offer to join Kearney’s Toronto office as an associate after graduation, he made it clear he wanted to transfer to their New York office shortly after.

“I had worked in the Canadian markets for a while and wanted new experiences for my long-term career growth. I saw more opportunities in the US market, which I also knew would be much more competitive,” said Ward.

True to his expectations, Ward says he experienced firsthand how fast and “cutthroat” the New York market can be, with new graduates competing with those from top US schools.

“You have to work harder to build your brand, but at the same time, when I look at how we compare to my peers on the job, Rotman graduates perform the same, if not better,” he said.

“Don’t sell yourself short — you have to remember that we learned the same things, and if you can succeed in the Rotman environment, you can succeed in the New York market.”

He adds it’s a great time to be graduating from business school for people interested in consulting.

“The market is incredibly hot right now. Consulting firms are rapidly trying to staff up, and many consultants are moving around and opening up opportunities,” said Ward.

“If you work hard and want to build a New York or US career, there’s way more upside for you. But there’s less comfort and ability to blend in and be mediocre — you want to make sure you’re okay with that.”

“Don’t sell yourself short. If you can succeed in the Rotman environment, you can succeed in the New York market.”

—David Ward (MBA ’20), Engagement Manager, Kearney, New York City

Parsa Pezeshki (JD-MBA ’14) on New York’s startup scene

Moving to New York was a deeply personal decision for Pezeshki, who took a risk and left a stable career in Toronto. After working as an in-house lawyer at Loblaw and George Weston in Toronto, Pezeshki decided to move into the startup world in New York City.

“I was intent on moving to New York because of the people. It attracts people who want to be here and have something to bring,” he said. “Most fields have a very strong presence in New York City, and as a result there’s a lot of opportunity here — professional and beyond."

Before Rotman, Pezeshki said he planned to follow a relatively conventional career as a lawyer.

“Rotman really changed that — there’s a big focus on entrepreneurialism at the School and I was greatly influenced by successful Rotman alumni in startups who I met through events,” he said.

Now, Pezeshki uses both his law training and his MBA to the fullest as a product manager at DocuSign, a tech company that allows organizations to manage electronic agreements.

“Product management is a very interdisciplinary role where you need to understand all aspects of the product — from the technology, how it solves user problems, how it's marketed and sold to customers and how it translates into earnings for the company,” said Pezeshki.

His advice for those interested in the tech and startup space: “Show that you have the drive to build something that solves a problem, ideally (but not necessarily) relevant to your industry. It doesn’t have to be tech-based, but just go out and build it and point to it.”

Mimi Shih (MBA ’20) on excelling in the New York finance market

In her role in wealth management, Shih bridges her passions in social activism and philanthropy by advising business owners and families on how they can use money to make a lasting impact.

Mimi Shih (MBA ’20)

Before Rotman, she worked in wealth management roles in Vancouver and Shanghai. During her MBA studies at Rotman, Shih completed a summer internship at Bank of America and was both a Forté Fellow and a Reaching Out MBA Fellow.

“That summer opened my eyes to the level of assets you could work with in New York. It was a great place to learn more about finance, especially wealth management,” said Shih, currently a senior wealth strategy associate at UBS.

“Rotman prepares you well for the technical side of any position, especially in finance. Finding your angle that makes you stand out during the recruitment process will go a long way in addition to networking.”

Leaning on her network paid off for Shih as she was looking for a job in finance after her MBA.

“If you want to get to New York, it’s achievable,” said Shih. “Leveraging your network can help get you there — it’s easy to have a one-off connection, but it’s really important to follow up with people so they remember who you are and what your goals are,” she said.

“If you want to get to New York, it’s achievable. Leveraging your network can help get you there.”

—Mimi Shih, MBA ’20, Senior Wealth Strategy Associate, UBS, New York City

Masha Dudelzak (MBA ’12) on breaking into the US real estate industry

For Dudelzak, a real estate broker in New York City, breaking into the US market was made easier by starting with a company with offices in both Canada and the US.

Masha Dudelzak (MBA ’12)

“It’s a much easier way to get your foot in the door,” she said, noting that she started at Coldwell Banker Richard Ellis’ (CBRE) Toronto office before transferring to their New York office. During her MBA, Dudelzak was an active member of the Rotman Real Estate Association, participating in case competitions with other schools. Now, in her role working with clients with office space in New York, Dudelzak said the biggest concern is navigating returns to office and how much space companies need short- and long-term.

“Our clients understand that there’s going to be a hybrid model and a lot more flexibility, but does that mean companies need less space? Or do they need more space because people are coming in for meetings, so you need more meeting room space? That’s something in flux right now,” she said.

If there’s one thing to focus on as students think about a real estate career in New York, Dudelzak says it’s networking.

“Hard skills are important, but networking and participating in industry groups will make you more competitive,” she added.

Beyond New York, Rotman is also expanding its global reach by focusing on sourcing more career opportunities on the West Coast (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Vancouver), with plans to deepen its reach in Asia and Europe.

Written by Jessie Park | More Student Stories »

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