When Jennifer Sanasie (GEMBA ’20) started the Global Executive MBA program at Rotman in September 2018, she was looking for a seat at the table.
“I set a goal for myself that I would graduate from the program with the confidence, experience and business expertise to successfully pitch a project to a major media company,” she says.
Jennifer Sanasie (GEMBA ’20)
She’s made good on that promise. Now, as chief marketing officer at Streambed Media, a media company that uses blockchain technology, her days are devoted to helping the group raise capital, secure partnership opportunities and launch their beta product. When she’s off the clock, Sanasie is producing and pitching her own original digital video content.
She’s ready to make her mark in the creative industry and tackle the challenges ahead, thanks in part to an unforgettable experience working with the Creative Destruction Lab (CDL) at Rotman.
Every year, upper-year students from across the Rotman School (including those enrolled in the Full-Time MBA, Morning/Evening MBA, Executive MBA, Global Executive MBA, Global Executive MBA in Healthcare and the Life Sciences, and the Master of Finance programs) work closely with early-stage tech startups accepted into the CDL program. For nine months, students draw upon their experience and business knowledge in helping ventures raise capital, craft business plans and problem solve so that they can effectively bring their ideas to market.
For these students, who earn course credit for their contributions, the real value of the class is obtaining hands-on entrepreneurial experience. Some, like Sanasie, leave inspired to take on new career paths.
Making the most of her business school experience with the CDL
Sanasie was never one to shy away from adventure. Before she arrived at Rotman, she had lived and worked on three different continents and established a successful media career. She was looking for a business school experience that would match her adventurous spirit.
The 18-month Global Executive MBA program fit the bill. The program, which recently partnered with the SDA Bocconi School of Management and welcomed its first class in September 2019, takes students to the world’s most dynamic cities to learn about financial markets, innovation and global strategic management.
“The CDL experience was the missing puzzle piece that completed my business school experience.”
—Jennifer Sanasie, Global Executive MBA ’20
“It was the perfect program for me. I’d still get to work, grow my career and learn about people and cultures through travel while developing a strong business perspective,” she says.
Eager to embrace the unknown, she jumped at the chance to learn about startup culture firsthand with the CDL.
“The CDL experience was the missing puzzle piece that completed my business school experience. It was an opportunity to take all the concepts and skills that had been covered in classes and use them in the real world.”
Tackling and learning from unexpected challenges
Each year, the CDL takes care to match startups accepted into the CDL program with Rotman students with relevant experience and interests. Through the CDL, Sanasie matched with Streambed Media, a blockchain-powered platform that enables content creators and brands to collaborate, share content and measure their reach more easily. With her previous experience in creating content and working in media, she immediately understood the group’s core aims and got to work helping them advance.
With every residential learning module of the Global Executive MBA, she took note on how she could help the CDL startup advance. When the class went to Silicon Valley to study startups up close, she observed how entrepreneurs effectively pitched to investors and how venture capitalists evaluated ideas. She took that knowledge to help Streambed raise capital. Her finance classes helped her develop stronger revenue projections for the group. As well, she used her strengths in communications and marketing to develop clear and concise messaging about Streambed’s main purpose.
The year presented the team with a few unexpected challenges, which served as valuable learning opportunities. When the global pandemic struck, many funding sources dried up and the project was at risk of shutting down. Undeterred, Sanasie and the team quickly adapted their approach. They expanded their workforce by offering equity, at the advice of one of their CDL advisors, so that they could develop a prototype within a mere eight weeks and get their venture off the ground.
Before the academic year ended, Sanasie had proven herself to Streambed, and they offered her a role to join them full-time — before she graduated. The rest is history.
“I couldn’t have imagined that I would end up in a place like this, where I’m working on how people make, share and engage with content,” she reflects. “This past year has broadened my view of what can be accomplished and how I can make an impact.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »