Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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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. 

Quick Info

  • Name: Christina Linda Chan
  • Year of graduation: 2024
  • Morning Lark or Night Owl: Evening MBA
  • Current position and employer: Architect, Akelius Residential Property
  • Previous position and employer: Design Manager, Akelius Residential Property

Not your typical MBA student 

An architect by trade, Christina Chan has wide-ranging experience from a career which has taken her to Melbourne, Berlin, and London as well as Toronto. And throughout her professional life, she has seen the same problem over and over again: a lack of management and business training within architectural firms. Not only does this make it difficult for the firms to operate as a profitable business, but it also prevents them from speaking the same language as their clients and ensuring full benefits from the partnership.

“Architects fail to make their business-oriented clients understand how effective design work could maximize profits. For example, many of my past clients were condominium developers, and condo projects have infamously slim margins for architecture firms. This is because some developers see no value in architects beyond providing the legally necessary documents such as building permits and producing pretty pictures. However, in reality architects possess expertise that could greatly increase a project's profitability. In one instance, I reconfigured the design of a building to yield an extra $2M in profits.”

“With MBA-level business skills, architects could better advocate for the value that they bring to large development projects.”

After thinking about what could be done to improve this situation, Christina decided to do an MBA to strengthen her business skills in order to be able to help run an architecture firm.

She turned a setback into an advantage 

When her life changed due to circumstances beyond her control, Christina didn’t waste time looking backwards. She applied for, and was offered, early admission at Rotman: “The early admissions opportunity came out of the blue. I had been working in the UK and was planning to do a one-year MBA in Europe. However, the pandemic sent me back to Canada. With the uncertainty at the time, I decided to shelve the idea of doing an MBA. Then, towards the end of August, my firm announced that they might be downsizing, so the idea of the MBA resurfaced for me.”

“Rotman’s incentive of a scholarship nudged me to get my application done—and then I was in.”

“The entrance award which I received as an early admission candidate has helped me immensely: part of the reason I had shelved the idea of the MBA was because my investments had tanked at the beginning of the pandemic. It's been good to know that I wouldn't have to dip into my investments for the first year of my program.”

Expanding her network…through hard work

Joining the program early also allowed Christina to take advantage of another opportunity: she participated in a case competition that was held in May before classes started in August.

For her, these fast-paced days provided hands-on experience with a key component of business education, as well as a head start on what she would be learning. She (and some others on her team) were mentored by team members possessing more business knowledge, and they all worked hard together to develop the P&L table. Prior to this competition, Christina had not known what “P&L” meant.

The May case competition also helped her expand her network and get to know other students whose routes to the MBA were as atypical as her own. By the end of the event the team had gelled enough to share some personal histories.

“After our presentation to the judges, we remained in our virtual breakout room and bonded over life stories of what led us to do an MBA at this time.”

“I was surprised to learn that one person was a teacher at a private art school in Japan that had been forced to close due to the pandemic, while another's spouse had endured some political turmoil in Egypt.”

The connections have continued now that the first term has begun: “Despite not yet having met any of my classmates in person [due to COVID restrictions], I have been able to meet and keep in touch with some very sociable people. This has led me to develop friendships that will carry me through the program and beyond. Two fellow students in particular have been extremely helpful: either advising me on the research I plan to do in my studies or helping me with class assignments.”

Advice for prospects considering early admission

Christina advises, “I highly recommend the early admission process. If you're planning to do the MBA anyway, get in early and get a discount off the standard sticker price. Another advantage is that you get to be connected to the University, the School and its various resources prior to the start of classes. The Intensive Week [in August, before the official start of term but still a week in which classes are taught] was really quite hectic.”

“Given the academic demands of August’s Intensive Week, this is not a great time to also get all the administrative stuff (such as your student card and other free software) sorted.”

What’s next for Christina

Now that she has started at Rotman, Christina’s original reason for obtaining her MBA is shifting. She has realized that the School offers “a buffet of opportunities in all sorts of industries and functions in the corporate world”.

She has done some research on management consulting, which appeals to her as a viable career path because of her analytical skills and desire to find solutions to problems. The current plan for this business-minded yet creative student is “to learn as much as possible and see what I gravitate towards”.

Learn more about the Early Admissions option or the Morning & Evening MBA, or contact us and we'll talk! Application deadline for Early Admissions is October 6, 2021(but you'll want to get started before deadline day.) 

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