From the military to Wall Street: one alumnus’ unique career path
July 10, 2017
Zachary Dombrowski (MBA ’14) thinks fast on his feet. As an investment banking associate with BMO Capital Markets in New York, he is constantly adapting and adjusting his plans based on breaking and economic news.
Peek into his Wall Street office, on any given day, and you’ll find him scanning news sites, discussing market trends with traders and research analysts, or developing stock performance updates. Dombrowski — who is responsible for developing and executing new IPO pitches and equity products for his clients, who include chief financial officers and other executives of large companies — needs to move quickly.
“I knew a Rotman education would be a differentiator when it came time to enter the workforce.”
-Zachary Dombrowski (MBA ’14), Investment Banking Associate, BMO Capital Markets
Surprisingly, early on, this strategy-focused finance professional spent little time charting out his life and career path. Instead, he remained open to new experiences. His talent for strategic planning under high-pressure situations led him to take on various challenges, from serving with the United States Army to enrolling in the Rotman School of Management’s MBA program.
“In military or business, when you’re working on the ground, you can’t over-think or obsess. It all comes down to making a decision based on what you know, forming a plan and executing it,” explains Dombrowski.
This finance professional’s career moves and training have made him uniquely suited for a role in the high-stakes, fast-paced world of finance.
Before he became immersed in financial markets, Dombrowski was living a very different life as an infantry officer with the United States Army. During his four years serving in the military, he was deployed to Afghanistan and became second-in-command for an airborne infantry unit in Alaska. He thrived on long days without fixed routines.
Shortly after returning to civilian life, Dombrowski realized that he could combine his interest in business with his predisposition for rapid-paced work by pursuing an MBA.
Though he initially considered a range of North American business schools, Rotman clearly stood out.
“The School’s academic standards were on par or better than many of the schools I was looking at. I knew a Rotman education would be a differentiator when it came time to enter the workforce,” said Dombrowski, who had previously earned a BA in International Relations at the University of Toronto and was aware of the institution’s high standards.
During his MBA, he discovered a deep interest in finance. Dombrowski crammed his schedule with finance electives and extracurricular activities, eventually serving as president of the School’s Finance Association. It was during his summer internship with Scotiabank, after his first year of the program, when he got his first taste of working in professional finance.
“It all came together for me. All the elements of the job, working on live deals, making decisions in real-time, thinking strategically, this was the work I wanted to do and the reason I had gone to business school.”
These experiences inspired him to reach out to his professional network and eventually secure his current, post-graduation position in finance.
Beyond the classroom
Though Dombrowski had extensive experience working with diverse stakeholders and groups, he believes that the Rotman community imparted some important lessons on how to interact and work effectively with people with different perspectives and skillsets. Today, working on Wall Street and living in a major city, these lessons come in handy.
“During the program, you’re thrown into a group of people, given very tight timelines and asked to complete demanding projects,” he describes. “It’s the perfect way to get better at being a team player.”
Ultimately it was the School’s cultural diversity that proved to be one of its greatest strengths, in Dombrowski’s eyes.
“In the same way that Toronto is a melting pot, Rotman is a melting pot. You are learning alongside so many different people, from so many different walks of life. You are going to walk away with an emotional intelligence that can’t be taught.”