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One Rotman: The power of culture and community at Canada’s leading business school

December 2, 2022

When José Pérez Ballester (MBA ’23) and Serah Jacob (Evening MBA ’24) took the reins on Rotman’s Graduate Business Council (GBC) this year, their goal was crystal clear — to bring the student community together, stronger than ever before.

After two years of remote and hybrid learning, leading a group that represents the interests of all master’s students at the Rotman School is no easy feat. But Pérez Ballester and Jacob — elected by their peers as president and executive vice-president, respectively — were up to the task.

José Pérez Ballester (MBA ’23) and Serah Jacob (Evening MBA ’24)

“The culture and community are such important parts of the graduate school experience,” says Jacob, an associate managing consultant at Mastercard who’s completing her MBA in the evenings. “Coming in at a time when students were returning to campus, we wanted to go big in elevating the ‘One Rotman’ spirit at the school."

Beyond its mandate to represent and advocate for the needs and perspectives of the graduate student body, the GBC at Rotman oversees student life initiatives, including student-led clubs, mentorship programs and sports teams. Jacob says they made a pointed effort to let students from all programs know that the GBC exists, that they matter and are always welcome to get involved.

At the beginning of the academic year, Jacob and Pérez Ballester attended as many program orientations as possible, standing in front of the Full-Time MBA, Morning and Evening MBA, Master of Finance, Master of Financial Risk Management and Master of Management Analytics programs to welcome them to Rotman.

“Naturally, you spend the most time with people in your program, but at the same time, we’re all part of a bigger community at Rotman,” says Pérez Ballester, who joined the Full-Time MBA program following five years of marketing experience in Argentina.

“I didn't know anyone when I came to Toronto — this isn't my first language either. From the very first moment, I felt that the university was taking care of me, and I wasn't alone. And I had the same feeling when I started meeting my classmates and professors,” he says.

In September, the group hosted a Blue Jays game outing with nearly 350 Rotman students joining in. The effort was led by Olúwafémi Odu (MBA ’23), vice-president, events at the GBC.

“I turned around and looked at the bleachers and saw students from every program filling up a whole section,” says Jacob. “It was awesome to see that One Rotman mentality manifest itself in real life.”

Rotman students at a Blue Jays game.

The team is also planning a Raptors game in March 2023, along with a Rendezvous event at the end of each term for all graduate students to mingle and unwind.

Pérez Ballester says one of their priorities is to support students through the high stress that comes with grades, internships and job placements.

“Final grades are never the be all, end all — many employers today look for discernment, resiliency, authenticity, and balance in their future business leaders,” they said in a note to students in November.

“From students to students: we are in this together.”

Moving forward, the GBC executive team will be creating an inaugural impact report to highlight wins and processes as a guide for following years.

"We did not come to a graduate business school to memorize theorems; we came to become leaders,” says Jacob.

“Leadership starts by stepping into something outside your comfort zone that enables you to grow and give back, and there's no better way to do that at Rotman than getting involved in student life initiatives.”

Written by Jessie Park | More Student Stories »