From the Full-Time MBA to Las Vegas: how a Rotman grad made the leap to a new career and a new city
March 6, 2020Vivian Pow (MBA ’18) is an adventure-seeker at heart. An avid rock climber and trekker, Pow is always up for an exciting challenge, so it was not too surprising that, a few years ago, she decided to explore new terrain when it came to her career.
While business school might seem like an odd choice for someone who craves time outdoors, that’s how Pow found her new career path. By taking advantage of experiences beyond the classroom — actively participating in clubs, attending conferences and networking with industry professionals — she used her Rotman MBA journey to gain clarity on her future. And many of her activities with the School unlocked new opportunities.
One of those opportunities involved relocating to Las Vegas, where Pow now works as a manager of entertainment strategy, entertainment and sports at MGM Resorts.
It’s the change that Pow was looking for.
“Every day, I feel like I’m taking on new problems and running with them,” she says. “I wouldn’t be here without the generosity and support of the many people that I connected with at Rotman. I wouldn’t have the skills I have now, and I wouldn’t have the confidence to use them.”
Why business school was the right path
After a few years of working in marketing roles in the tech sector, Pow knew that she was ready for business school. She had acquired substantial marketing and copywriting experience, but to make the leap to management, and possibly to a new career, she needed a stronger foundation in business.
The Full-Time MBA program at the Rotman School immediately felt like the right place to develop her leadership skills and management thinking.
“I wanted a different kind of MBA experience and I thought Rotman could deliver that,” says Pow, who completed the Leadership Development Lab and Creative Destruction Lab programs, and participated in two international study tours.
“The School felt like home in a way I hadn’t found with other schools I interviewed at. I went with my gut.”
“Learning to tell my story effectively and confidently helped me find opportunities that I didn’t know existed.”
— Vivian Pow, MBA ’18
How she got the job: keeping an eye on her interests
Pow enrolled in the Full-Time MBA program with an open mind. She didn’t have a specific target sector or industry in mind. Instead, she focused on acquiring a set of new skills, meeting new people and following her interests.
Doing that — and taking some initiative along the way — triggered a chain of events that led to unexpected professional opportunities.
In her first semester of business school, her interests in the outdoors and recreation led her to the Sports Business Association, where she served as a first-year representative for her MBA section. Later that year, she and the other club members headed to Boston for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, an annual meeting that brings together student sports business associations and industry professionals.
On a whim, Pow got in touch with other business school sports clubs who were attending the conference and organized a mixer so that students across a range of MBA programs could meet and network.
The event was a hit, and she left an impression with her peers in the Sports Business Association. When Pow applied for a summer internship with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) in Toronto, a few former club members put in a good word about her with their contacts there.
“It was serendipitous,” says Pow. “I didn’t go into the club with a big plan to land a specific type of job or internship, but I think I managed to show people that I was a hard worker and worth giving a chance.”
The internship at MLSE had her working on project management activities and on new product lines. She also had the chance to work with senior executives and watch them operate.
When she returned to the conference in Boston in her second year, she had experiences and perspectives to share. One connection she made at the conference was impressed by her sharp insights and varied work history; he recommended Pow to a colleague at MGM Resorts. Within a few weeks, she got a call inviting her to an interview in Las Vegas.
Today, Pow works on fast-paced projects where she advises ticketing, sports and entertainment teams on how to operate more efficiently. (One unexpected perk of the job is that Red Rock Canyon is nearby, allowing her to do some climbing on weekends!)
Her advice to current and future MBA students is simple: pay attention to what drives you and get better at telling your story.
“I think a lot of students get caught up in the idea that they should be pursuing a traditional business role in finance or consulting. If that doesn’t drive you, that’s ok. You can use your business knowledge to do something completely different,” she says.
“Once you figure out what interests you, learn how to communicate that. There are interesting conversations happening everywhere. Learning to tell my story effectively and confidently helped me find opportunities that I didn’t know existed.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »