As the world changes rapidly and recovers from crises, institutions must change with it.
Dean Susan Christoffersen
From the ripple effects on the global economy brought on by a pandemic to the recognition of broad social injustices and the urgency of climate change, it’s a pivotal time for organizations and leaders to make sustainable changes in their practices. And for a leading business school, it’s crucial to lean into its purpose and address global challenges in and outside the classroom.
“Our school is a place where current and future leaders deepen their understanding of the world and their ability to shape it,” says Rotman Dean Susan Christoffersen in the new five-year plan published this summer.
“At the centre of a diverse community of learning and inquiry, we know who we are and what we want to achieve. And equally important, we know why.”
Rotman's Academic Plan 2022-2027 includes specific steps the School will take to enhance the student experience across all its programs. The plan was unveiled June 2022 after months of consultations with students, alumni, staff, faculty members, and leaders across U of T and in the broader business community.
“Having focus groups with students gave me a great pulse on what they were going through and what they need from the Rotman community,” says Christoffersen, who started as dean in July 2021.
How exactly will Rotman evolve over the next five years? Here’s what students need to know.
There will be a stronger focus on sustainability, analytics, innovation and entrepreneurship across Rotman’s programs to help graduates gain a competitive edge and a greater global reach in the job market. For example, the School will work with the Lee-Chin Institute for Corporate Citizenship to develop student initiatives which explore the integration of sustainability into business strategy. The curriculum will also be enhanced to further explore business applications of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics and blockchain.
“We’re all about experiential learning and offering a holistic experience that balances academic learning with student life activities that advance personal and professional development,” says Christoffersen.
Rotman students have access to a wealth of experiential learning opportunities throughout their degrees: flexible internships, industry-led projects and case competitions are just some examples. They also have a unique opportunity to benefit from Rotman’s Self-Development Lab, which uses feedback-based learning to develop communication and interpersonal skills to help students become more effective leaders.
“Increasingly, firms are looking to hire leaders who can manage diverse, innovative and global teams and the Self-Development Lab is helping to develop the fundamental skills needed for students to succeed,” says Christoffersen.
All these components come together to help students maximize their career prospects as they approach graduation. With a record number securing jobs within three months of graduation last year, Rotman continues to grow its pool of prospective employers across global industries. Take the New York Career Trek for instance — the community of Rotman alumni in the Big Apple is growing, and in coming years the Career Services team will look to source more opportunities on the West Coast (San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Vancouver), and eventually in Asia and Europe.
Starting in Fall 2022, MBA students will have the opportunity to choose from eight revised specializations — called emphases — which reflect Rotman’s strengths and the diverse needs in business. The new emphases are Data Analytics and Modeling; Finance; Global Management; Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Business Design; Leadership; Marketing; Strategy; and Sustainability and Society.
Ensuring everyone at the School feels welcomed, heard and valued will remain a top priority.
“As an integral part of the University of Toronto community, Rotman embraces U of T’s commitment to combat racism and inequity,” says Christoffersen.
As Rotman continues to invest in its Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) office, Darrell Bowden was recently hired as the School’s new EDI director. Bowden comes to Rotman with extensive experience and knowledge on issues of social injustice and human rights and he will look for ways to create a more diverse and welcoming community and to improve the pathways for underrepresented groups to participate in all aspects of life at Rotman.
In February 2022, Rotman launched the Indigenous Task Force to guide the School on creating a long-term strategy to support Truth and Reconciliation as a business school. The committee was equally represented by members of the Indigenous and Rotman communities and was co-chaired by Rotman Executive MBA ’17 grad Sara Wolfe and Prof. Alexandra MacKay.
“Rotman has very little Indigenous representation, and in order to be more inclusive, we need to better understand the history and barriers the Indigenous community still faces to this day,” says Christoffersen.
As part of the effort to create a more welcoming community, Rotman is also investing more in mental health support for students. Most recently, Rotman hired its first student mental health and wellness manager, Tanya Hyland, to work with students to navigate support offered at the University.
There’s also a new mental health advisory committee comprised of students, faculty and staff to provide guidance to the dean on initiatives to further support Rotman students. Currently in its first year, the group is zeroing in on the various student mental health challenges that exist across the School and their potential drivers.
The School’s inclusion efforts have also received tremendous support from alumni and business leaders. At the inaugural Rotman Giving Day in 2021, nearly $400,000 was donated to create 70 experiential learning opportunities and four new endowed scholarships, including one for Black MBA students.
There will be more focus on boosting Rotman’s strong track record in management research.
“Our faculty is made up of leaders in their areas of expertise who can provide frameworks to help us deal with a world that's changing very radically and quickly,” says Christoffersen. “Many of our faculty are influencing business practices and government policy, and students get a window into how those ideas shape the real world.”
Rotman is consistently among the top-20 schools for management research in the Financial Times Global MBA ranking, with faculty members publishing 524 articles in peer-reviewed journals between 2017 to 2021.
Research centres, labs and institutes at the School received $39M in funding from external grants for their work with corporate, academic and government partners between 2017 to 2021.
This is advantageous for students who are interested in working on projects in their areas of interest — from behavioural economics with BEAR to projects on healthcare innovation with the Sandra Rotman Centre for Health Sector Strategy to helping to scale science and technology-based startups at the Creative Destruction Lab. Rotman’s Financial Innovation Lab (FinHub) and the TD Management Data and Analytics Lab provide additional opportunities through data hackathons, student projects, and programming support. The BMO Financial Group Finance Research and Trading Lab offers simulated environments and live cases using real-time data, where students can develop their portfolio management and trading skills.
Rotman will expand the stage for conversations on today’s most pressing business, economic and social challenges.
There are several avenues for students and alumni to stay informed on the latest business trends and issues including publications such as the Rotman Management magazine and the Rotman Insights Hub; public events, which bring together top thought leaders and practitioners; and connecting with existing students and alumni across numerous fields. In addition, Rotman offers a robust Executive Programs catalogue for alumni and professionals to foster self-development and continued learning.
“Through research and thought leadership, we spark broader conversations on the challenges facing organizations, governments and communities,” says Christoffersen.
Each year, Rotman hosts close to 100 public events for business leaders, policymakers, students, alumni and members of the general public. As in-person events resume in Fall 2022 alongside virtual ones, students can look forward to connecting with guest speakers and alumni to build their network.
"Rotman is a place where talented people with diverse backgrounds and unique points of view come together to share ideas, to motivate and support one another, and to collaborate on work that matters,” says Christoffersen.
“That collective commitment is reflected in the ambitious goals we’ve set for ourselves, and in the concrete, meaningful steps by which we’re putting Rotman’s purpose into action.”
“Rotman is a place where talented people with diverse backgrounds and unique points of view come together to share ideas, to motivate and support one another, and to collaborate on work that matters.”
Dean, Rotman School of Management