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Reunite 2019: reconnect with old friends and brush up on today’s big ideas

September 9, 2019

Photo of Gravinder BhatiaWhen Gavinder Bhatia (EMBA ’15) reflects on her business school days, it’s the people that she thinks about the most.

“The 13 months that I spent at Rotman were the most memorable — and most intense — of my life,” she says. “After completing such a fast-paced and demanding program together as a class, we created such unbreakable bonds.”

While they still keep in touch via emails and text messages, Bhatia and her former classmates have not managed to get together very often. It’s a common situation, given that Rotman grads advance quickly in their careers, often moving into demanding leadership positions.

Luckily, every fall, the School makes it easy for alumni to get together with Reunite at Rotman, the homecoming weekend where grads have plenty of opportunities to reconnect while brushing up on emerging business trends.

As with previous years, the upcoming Reunite Weekend, taking place October 4-5, 2019, will kick off with an evening of fireside chats (where attendees can sit down with senior leaders across of a range of industries), a lively dean’s reception and special reunion celebrations for classes commemorating milestone anniversaries.

The following day, grads can look forward to focused sessions on pursuing innovation without sacrificing equality (spoiler: keeping Star Trek in mind might be very useful), how shifts in financial technology affect consumer spending, and the importance of developing a China strategy. Several coffee breaks and meals are built into the day, so grads can catch up with fellow alumni and network.

“I hope my fellow alumni see this weekend as an opportunity to invest in themselves.”

—Gavinder Bhatia, EMBA ’15

Bhatia, who will be serving as one of the emcees for the upcoming Reunite weekend along with Bryn Knox (BCom ’04), is excited.

“This weekend will make up for all the times we couldn’t meet for coffees or dinners,” she says. “Also, I hope my fellow alumni see this weekend as an opportunity to invest in themselves. There are bound to be really interesting ideas coming up through the talks, some of them which we can bring back to the office on Monday morning.”

Brush up on the latest in management research

Photo of Bryn KnoxIn addition to meaningful friendships and memories, most grads leave Rotman with the mindset that learning is a lifelong endeavour.

“With how rapidly technology is evolving and new industries are emerging, no one can afford to sit idle,” says Knox. “Reunite is a great way to learn about a range of topics and trends. Inevitably, you’ll find something that strikes your interest or gets you thinking about your work — or life — differently.”

Knox, who is head of finance at the emerging startup BenchSci, is especially interested in hearing Professor Joshua Gans’ keynote address, where he’ll discuss insights from his new book, Innovation + Equality: How to Create a Future That Is More Star Trek Than Terminator (MIT Press, Oct. 4, 2019). Gans will present his recommendations for policies that promote both innovation and equality.

“The great thing about the weekend is that no one feels out of place. You might start off chatting and sitting with people you know, but you’ll naturally fall into conversations with others.”

—Bryn Knox, BCom ’04

“Joshua is always on point when it comes to AI and technology. I’m really excited to see what he has to say about the future direction of innovation.”

Meanwhile, Bhatia is looking forward to Professor Wendy Dobson’s session on China, which aligns with the release of her new book, Living with China: A Middle Power Finds Its Way (Rotman-UTP Publishing, Sept. 21, 2019).

“Right now, I’m especially curious about global trade and our ties with other countries. It has a direct impact in my work, particularly around strategic planning,” says Bhatia, who is vice president and general manager of pies at Weston Foods. “This is a rare opportunity to hear from an expert about what future relations with China could look like. I’ll be taking notes.”

Both Knox and Bhatia are also intrigued by Professor Avni Shah’s talk on how the death of cash might be contributing to growing debt — and Shah promises to discuss strategies on how to bolster savings. The weekend will end on a high note with a closing keynote by Pierre-Luc Bisaillon (MBA ’01), chief information officer at Cirque du Soleil.

Get ready to make new connections

Whether you’re a regular or first-time attendee, get ready to make new connections outside your class year and program, say Bhatia and Knox.

“We have an amazing alumni community,” says Bhatia. “There have been plenty of occasions where I’ve discovered that a colleague or friend is a fellow Rotman grad. I’m expecting to see a lot people I already know.”

Meeting new friends and contacts happens organically.

“The great thing about the weekend is that no one feels out of place. You might start off chatting and sitting with people you know, but you’ll naturally fall into conversations with others,” says Knox. “It’s a lot more relaxed than any conference or work event. Remember, we all have Rotman in common.”

Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »

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