From student to supervisor: an MFRM ’17 grad on being on both sides of the MFRM risk management project
May 13, 2019
Though Olivia Liu (MFRM ’17) graduated from the Master of Financial Risk Management (MFRM) program nearly two years ago, she’s still learning from the Rotman program today.
Liu is now a manager with the group treasury team at Scotiabank, where she is focused on liquidity stress testing. Recently, she was handed a unique assignment: co-supervising two current MFRM students working on their risk management project at the bank.
“The experience gave me a completely different perspective on the program, and it was an important learning opportunity for me as well,” explains Liu.
The risk management project — which puts MFRM students to work on a risk issue at banks, pension boards, startups and other financial organizations — gives these young professionals hands-on experience and prepares them for the job market they are about to enter. In general, these students tend to do extremely well on the market; 94 per cent of MFRM students from the class of 2017 and the class of 2018 found full-time employment within six months of graduating.
Interestingly, as the program has grown and amassed an impressive alumni pool, many graduates now find themselves on the other side. Today, they are supervising current students during the project component and gaining leadership experience in the process.
“ Great managers provide employees with direction, without putting unnecessary limits on their work.”
—Olivia Liu, MFRM ’17
What she learned from the project
Liu, who was a graduate of the first MFRM class, remembers her project experience well. For her assignment, which was also sponsored by Scotiabank and designed by Rotman alumnus and MFRM advisory board member Victor Leung (MFin ’09), she analyzed the potential impact of a forthcoming risk-related regulation on the organization.
Not only did she gain practical experience working in risk, she was introduced to new opportunities and various aspects of banking at Scotiabank.
“It’s the best time to network,” she says. “Not only are you in the heart of the financial district, you are working alongside many of the professionals you might want to work for or with one day. It’s a great time to ask questions.”
Her supervisors were supportive in connecting her with colleagues and helping her develop her professional network. She made a positive impression during her stint at the bank. Weeks later, through word-of-mouth and recommendations from the Rotman School and Scotiabank, she was encouraged to apply for the full-time position she now holds.
What she‘s teaching others
Liu didn’t hesitate to pay forward the support she had received as an MFRM student when Bryan Djerroud (MFRM ’19) and Tony Huang (MFRM ’19) came on board.
Though the students were mentored by three individuals at the bank, Liu was the only supervisor in the office on their first day, so she took the lead by getting them set up. She started by providing Djerroud and Huang with an overview of the bank and explaining their assignment, which had the students researching stress testing frameworks. Liu also went on to offer them professional guidance and advice.
“I remember exactly what it was like being a student in the program, and I wanted to provide them with the best support,” she said. “I tried to identify which areas of banking they might be interested in and to connect them with the right people.”
Her efforts did not go unnoticed.
“Olivia was great to work with. Not only did she offer practical advice about how to approach the project and MFRM program, she introduced me to key professionals in the industry,” says Huang.
The experience, which was Liu’s first time mentoring or supervising others, taught her a lot about management.
“The project made me think about what I was doing well and what I might need to work on to be an effective supervisor. I’m still learning,” she says. “Overall, it made me realize how great managers provide employees with direction, without putting unnecessary limits on their work.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung