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Reputation Matters

With business schools, reputation is capital. And rankings are just a snapshot. To maximize their investment, applicants may want to know where a school is going, says MBA website Poets and Quants

When students evaluate business schools, they tend to quantify their decisions. They pore over GMAT scores, placement rates, and starting salaries – not to mention rankings – to justify their choices. It’s perfectly natural; numbers drive business. In measuring any business’ health, people look closely at data like net income, working capital, and assets.

With business schools, reputation is capital. And rankings are just a snapshot. To maximize investment, applicants may want to know where a school is going, not where it has been.  It’s called momentum – that upward surge that opens up new possibilities and increases an MBA’s value over time.


“Among MBA programs worldwide, you’d be hard-pressed to find a business school with more energy and excitement behind it than Rotman.”

- Jeff Schmitt, Poets and Quants


The Roger Martin Years

In 2013, Poets&Quants named outgoing Dean Roger Martin as its Dean of the Year. Considering his accomplishments, you could argue that Martin would qualify to be “Dean of the Decade.” How impressive was his tenure? Just look at the numbers:

“At the end of this past June [2013], the 56-year-old Martin completed one of the most successful deanships in recent memory. During his stint, the former strategy consultant for Monitor Co. doubled the physical space of the school, quadrupled the endowment, increased the size of the faculty to 113 from 30 and the Rotman staff to 300 from 60, and boosted the student population by 300%.

He raised more than $250 million for the school, reeling in eight eight-figure gifts–roughly a third of the 25 eight-figure donations the entire university has received in its 175-year history. The school’s annual budget is now $130 million, up from a little more than $13 million when he became dean in the fall of 1998.”

Dean Tiff Macklem

Since then, Dean Tiff Macklem, formerly the #2 executive at the Bank of Canada, has switched up his administrative leadership team to build on the school’s strength in faculty research (where it ranks among the top five programs worldwide according to the Financial Times).

What hasn’t changed is the school’s distinctive integrative thinking philosophy, which trains students to balance conflicting ideas by identifying and weighing more variables and relationships. In other words, students take the long and wide view in each class to understand the pressures and hurdles all parties face, so they can envision options that get to the heart of solving an issue.

Integrative Thinking

And applying this integrative model was critical to Victoria Aton, a Paris native who is among the 351 members of Rotman’s 2017 Class. “Rotman is one of the most innovative and forward-thinking business schools out there, making it incredibly relevant to today’s business environment. Instead of relying on the conventional case studies used in most business schools, it uses [an] “Integrative Thinking” [process] that teaches students how leaders think, rather than what leaders have done in the past.”

But “teaching students to go above and beyond to consider the bigger picture” – in the words of McKinsey’s Anupam Katyal – is only part of Rotman’s appeal. He clicked off the school’s self-development lab, “strong” alumni network, and “world renowned faculty” as the deciding factors for enrolling in the incoming class.

Building a strong class

And James Webster, an Oxford graduate who was most recently a global markets vice president at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, was roused by the enthusiasm he experienced at Rotman during the recruiting process. “When I spent time speaking with the admissions team, students and recent alumni, there was an infectious dynamism from all of them – Rotman has grown rapidly in the past decade and made strides in becoming a top global MBA program and it has clear momentum behind it. I am excited to be a part of that.”

And the feeling is mutual, says Brian Golden, vice dean of professional programs. “We have the kind of class that I, as a professor, love to teach — and a class that employers will be excited about in two years,” he says. “This class is bright, talented, diverse, and the most equipped in recent history to handle the increasingly complex and ambiguous challenges at work by virtue of their background and experience as well as their ability to articulate and communicate ideas. This will be a class to watch.”

To successfully build a class, Golden notes that Rotman’s process “involves three equally important functions that are inextricably linked: recruiting & admissions (getting the right mix of highly qualified students), the educational experience (ensuring the most up to date and practical learning experience) and career services (placing students in their preferred jobs out of school).” He adds that the school looked very closely at “what our corporate partners have been asking for in candidates and mirrored that in our admissions process.” The result was a diverse class of strong professional and academic credentials.

By the numbers

The 2017 class enters Rotman with an average GMAT of 663 – the highest among Canadian full-time MBA programs – with the median being 680 and the range extending from 500 to 760. As undergraduates, they averaged a 3.4 GPA collectively, with averages starting as low as 2.2 and reaching as high as perfect 4.0’s. At 29%, undergraduate engineering major comprise the largest bloc of the incoming class, followed closely by business majors at 26.2%. Economics (12%), Humanities (8.8%), social sciences (7.7%), and life sciences (6%) majors also comprise large blocs of the class.

Read the full story in Poets and Quants.

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