Harsh Ruparelia, MFin ’21, moved with his family to Canada from India in May 2018. Not long after arriving in Toronto, he started working for Scotiabank in retail banking. Career-wise, this was a step back for Harsh after working for eight years in the financial services industry in India, with four spent with a top Investment Bank in Mumbai. However, Harsh knew he had to gain experience in the Canadian financial systems in order to open doors for future opportunity in his new home.
He was also determined to improve his resume.
After taking a number of short courses, such as the Canadian Securities Course (CSC), Harsh decided to start his masters.
“I had wanted to complete a masters for a number of years, and after the move I felt it was better to do it earlier in my time in Canada to provide the biggest boost to my career.”
After deciding on a specialized finance program that should take no more than two years to complete and that must be flexible so he could continue to work, the next decision was where to study. “I did consider an MBA, but ultimately decided I didn’t want to study non-finance related courses so an MFin was a better fit.”
“Rotman was the natural choice”
When speaking to friends and colleagues in both India and Canada, it became clear Rotman was the place Harsh wanted to study.
“I have a friend who I met during my engineering undergrad who graduated from the MBA at Rotman in 2018. His advice was clear – when it comes to finance, it’s Rotman. Don’t even give it a second thought."
“The Dean (Tiff Macklem) was Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada; the University of Toronto is one of the top universities in the world. If I was going to do a masters it was going to be at Rotman. I didn’t apply anywhere else.
“As I was investing time and money, I wanted the return. I felt confident the return with Rotman would come - in my case it came in a couple of months!”
Progression in a matter of months
Just one month after starting the MFin program, Harsh started to network internally in other focus areas of Scotiabank, outlining his experience in India, his current work, and that he had just started the MFin program.
“I was fortunate to meet a director who was impressed with my background, and that I was putting the time and energy into improving my skills with the MFin program while working. He felt I was underutilized in my current role and wanted me to meet with one of his team leaders.”
That team leader would shortly become Harsh’s hiring manager.
“I met with the team leader who – as it turned out – had completed the Rotman MFin a few years earlier. We started talking about my previous experience in fixed income markets from India, the success that I had in my current role and about the courses, the faculty – we developed a natural connection. I started MFin in September and I had my new job offer by end of October.”
“They saw that I was pursuing my masters and am serious about my career – that certainly helped me.”
The new role
The new role will be working with the Commercial Banking Distribution team within Scotiabank. Harsh will be able to call on his credit analysis, relationship management, deal structuring and underwriting experience from previous roles while in India.
Based at Scotia Plaza in downtown Toronto, the new position will open up the opportunity to grow his network in the company to help his career grow further.
Learning to apply theory, and embracing Canadian culture.
After completing his undergraduate degree in engineering at the University of Pune in 2007, Harsh then completed his CFP (Certified Financial Planner) certification that was his entry point to the financial services industry in India. He has since completed CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) Level III and is a CFA charter holder. Both qualifications were through self-directed learning. Harsh felt confident in his understanding of the theory, but wanted a more applied focus, from a Canadian/North American viewpoint.
“In the MFin I’m learning finance from world-class professors. This is something I’m really enjoying. The financial statement classes with Ramy (Elitzur) for example have been spectacular. The fact they are bringing all these practical aspects – how to link the theoretical and practical – is amazing.”
Harsh also enjoys that classes not only cover what has happened before, but also that they are discussing what is happening in the industry now, and what could happen in the future.
“I always wanted the course to be that way.”
The highlight of the program so far is his classmates, professors and the strong Rotman alumni.
“It’s great connecting with everyone in the MFin program. One of the fastest ways to adapt to a culture is to go to school. The fact I’m able to gel with my classmates who have been in Canada all their life, or a number of years… it’s helping me to gain more confidence and get into the culture.”
Balancing work, study and family time
Harsh is very clear: you need to be committed to the program to get the most from it.
“You are spending energy, time and money so you need to be disciplined during your studies. For me, I spend the weekdays working, in the evenings it is a few hours a night on assignments or preparing for exams and then class on every other Saturday and Wednesday evenings. Sunday is for family.
“My wife was on board with me studying when I applied, and that was really important because of the amount of time I need to commit to complete the program.”
Advice to those considering the MFin at Rotman
“It will have a definite impact on your career. If you’re looking for something to have an immediate impact – this is it.”
This post was written while Harsh was a student in the program.
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