GETTING A HEAD START ON ROTMAN’S MORNING/EVENING MBA
This blog post profiles a Morning/Evening MBA student who was offered early admission to Rotman, and accepted the challenge. The early admission option is exclusively for applicants who scored over 650 on their GMAT or GRE, or who have their CFA III. Benefits include an entrance award and opportunities for recognition as one of a select group, both at Rotman and within the cohort.
- Name: Anthonia Okeke
- Year of graduation: 2024
- Morning Lark or Night Owl: Morning MBA
- Current position and employer: Senior Financial Analyst, The Salvation Army
This blog post dives into the perspective of Anthonia, MEMBA ‘24 and her journey transitioning from finance to consulting through Rotman. She touches on the importance of applying early and having a clear-cut strategy for your future. Knowing the value of planning ahead, building your network, diversity in teams, and learning by doing are all themes presented in this blog.
What is your current role?
I work with the Salvation Army as a Senior Financial Analyst. My day-to-day job is mostly providing financial advice to business managers. The Salvation Army is set up in such a way that each business unit is independent and those of us in the finance department treat them as clients. I can say that I am sort of a financial consultant to them and I prepare their financial forecasts.
How will an MBA help you do more, do better, and deliver more value?
I decided to pursue an MBA to transition into strategy consulting. Over the past 10 years, I’ve worked with various industries, each within different finance roles. It has always been interesting to me to see how each industry is unique in a way and yet sort of the same. There are a lot of challenges that come with each individual industry.
“With the questions that arise…you can use your knowledge and skills from past industries to tackle something new, but you still must build new skills, new toolkits for each industry. I'm looking at working in consulting, because it will give me an opportunity to work across different industries at the same time.”
Some of the brightest minds I have met and worked with were in the consulting space, so I am really looking forward to transitioning into that.
Although each industry has its own challenges, there is a set of financial knowledge and expertise that you can bring and apply. Would you say that is true for you?
That’s exactly what it is: previously I moved directly from a construction company to an advertising firm: two different industries where there is really nothing similar. However, when I got into advertising, I found myself building new skills using the same financial background I had from construction. I was able to realign those skills, revise them, and apply them to what I was doing in the advertising space.
“As a consultant, there are challenges that come up, and you must do research, talk to people that have been in the industry, understand what is going on and see how to tackle that.”
I enjoy the day-to-day challenges that come with each unique industry, in which you are able to use your existing skills and knowledge to solve the problems that come up.
Why did you choose Rotman?
“My philosophy is, if you want to learn, learn from the best and learn with the best. I knew that Rotman is the top MBA school here especially within the financial space."
I spoke with several people about Rotman and did my own research of looking at the alumni network and being fascinated by the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) and Self Development Lab (SDL). Both grabbed my interest and I knew I wanted in on those two programs as no other schools offered similar options.
I decided I would start my MBA in August and decided to go ahead and write my GRE (Graduate Record Examination). Once I made up my mind, I went for it and got it over with. During summer, studying for the GRE was not that difficult. While I struggled a bit with the verbal reasoning part of the GRE, my strategy was to listen to podcasts, dictionaries, and GRE material that people put together.
Why did you decide to go for the early admissions option when deciding to pursue your MBA at Rotman?
For me, there was no other option as I am one of those people that prefers to do things on time. My friends refer to me as the strategist, I do strategy for everything in my life, and is it always a part of my plan. When I decided I wanted to do an MBA, I already knew the school I was going to apply to, there was no reason not to apply early.
I decided on early admission in order to have the time to build up my strategy for…what percentage of my time to allocate to studies, school activities, networking, and more; and then also have the time to revise it.
My idea was to apply at least six months before school started, and then have that time to talk with people and revise my plan. This really worked for me as lots of people told me about how stressful it may be doing an MBA and working full time. I took the step of speaking with people who did it in the past and finding out what worked for them, what went wrong, what they could have done better. Because of this, I was able to plan for myself and alleviate some stress during [the program’s introductory] Intensive Week. I was able to enjoy this because I knew what I was going into and what was expected. I knew how I wanted to tackle it which makes every day so fun.
How did the entrance award help you?
The best part of getting that entrance award was…being part of the Forte Foundation through the award. I met a lot of inspiring and wonderful women through many conferences, such as the Finance Fast Track conference that was held in August.
This conference was an open invitation for all incoming students that are interested in finance. It included different panels and webinars with many inspiring women who came to share their stories and give guidelines on the finance industry. The event had lots of investment bankers and people in private equity. I was able to learn a lot about the finance space and the best part was that there were attendees from all over Canada and US. Overall, a great networking opportunity.
“What comes with the award beyond the money is the fact that Rotman acknowledges that you did well, you applied early. There is an incentive for applying early and doing well in all your admissions criteria. It’s a wonderful way to say that you have all the skills needed to succeed in the MBA.”
What are some of the other early admissions benefits at Rotman?
I really enjoyed the sample class offered as part of the Future Black Business Leaders Conference taught by Professor Nouman Ashraf. I love the way he presented that day and it got me interested in diversity and inclusion, which helped me become more involved in the Future Black Business Leaders Conference at Rotman last December.
Another benefit was being part of a case competition in May that taught me valuable lessons about team requirements and what works in a team setting. I realized that delegating roles based on everyone’s strengths is much more beneficial than spending hours talking about the same question and analyzing each person’s answer. Once everyone understands their own individual strengths [they can] work on a task individually and come back together to review. I realized it is much more timesaving to run a team that way.
“I learned in one of my first classes during Intensive Week that leveraging diversity is key for a successful team. This was my favourite course as it gave me exposure to how people from diverse cultures behave, how they work on teams, what the key qualities of a team leader are, and what works best in each situation.”
It gave me an appreciation for other people's cultures and being able to see how you can bring that person's personality and your own personality in alignment so that you have a smooth work environment.
The teamwork and the case competition in May introduced me to genuine experiences which I can work on improving in the future. Without the case competition, I would not have had generated as much insight as I did in class. Working with diverse teams you understand that there are lots of different behaviors and work ethics. On the other hand, when you have a diverse team, you also have lots of different experts in the room who may have a better solution than the one you thought of.
“Working in consulting, you have to deal with all kinds of diverse teams that have all kinds of distinctive work.”
Do you have any advice for prospects who are considering early admission, or was there anything that surprised you about the early admission option at Rotman?
“I would say to anyone considering early admission that it is the best decision they can make for themselves.”
Applying early gives you the opportunity to get to know your classmates on time. For instance, as early admission students, we created a book club where we discussed one business book every month. By applying early, I had so much time to research and prepare for admission without having to worry. I was able to have a strategy at hand when I started my MBA.
What would you say to someone thinking about what they should be studying?
For anyone thinking about what to focus on, I would ask them: What do you want to do? What percentage of your time do you want to devote to classwork and assignments? What percentage of your time do you want to devote to networking, coffee chats? And other social activities?
There are so many workshops and events, how many can you really attend? You need to figure out which ones work for you, which ones align with your interests or you will find yourself overwhelmed.
When I came to Rotman, I had three focuses: finance, marketing, and consulting. Through attending conferences such as women in business and leadership conferences, I was able to figure out what I really want.
“Give yourself the opportunity to decide what you want by exploring. Have an open mind. I am only picking events that align with the career transition I have in mind. In terms of advice, I’d say make sure you have a clear-cut strategy that works.”
For the GRE, get the textbook, get the worksheets, walkthrough as many examples and questions as you can get, and you will be fine. As for clubs, I am a part of the Monument Consulting Club, RFA (Rotman Finance Association), Women in Money, and SABR (Students Against Anti-Black Racism).
“For anyone considering an MBA, Rotman has almost everything you’re looking for. I have met such amazing people since I started the program, everyone is just there to help. For me, the alumni network at Rotman is fantastic.”
Learn more about the Early Admissions option or the Morning & Evening MBA, or contact us and we'll talk! The first application deadline is on November 17, 2021 (but you'll want to get started before deadline day.)