There’s one thing most MBA students at the Rotman School have in common, regardless of their career paths or backgrounds — they want to transform their careers in a meaningful way.
Recently, six Rotman alumni visited the St. George campus to reflect on the journey that led them to pursuing their MBA, and what their lives have looked like since.
Here’s what they had to say.
Paloma Tonaco, MBA ’19
Chief Human Resources Officer – Americas, SAP Fioneer
Paloma Tonaco came to Rotman from Brazil with a background in law. She says she had to “cut through the noise” of other people’s assumptions and expectations of her, taking the insights she learned in the MBA program to make her own impact on the field of human resources.
“I was drawn to this potential, this promise of what [HR] could be in the future if we were bold enough to break a few boundaries and do things a little bit differently,” Tonaco says.
Zach McMahon, MBA ’18
During his time at Rotman, Zach McMahon learned of a mental health crisis involving a loved one. That led him to dig into the research on mental health treatments, collaborate with his peers and AI experts at Rotman, and spark the idea for what would become his own digital health company.
“You can reinvent yourself at any time in life,” says McMahon. “I feel like I’ve got a lot of freedom — I can go out and accomplish anything that I want to accomplish, I just have to put work into it. I feel like I got that here at Rotman.”
Nisha Balachandran, MBA '18
Senior Program Manager, Recruiting Tech, Amazon
From Amazon to Microsoft to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, Nisha Balachandran’s list of employers includes some of the best-known companies in Canada and the world. But prior to coming to Rotman, she says she doubted if an MBA program was for her.
“If I could go back in time and tell my old self whether or not I should do my MBA at Rotman, I would not hesitate to invest in it again,” she says.
Adeola Adesola, MBA ’14
Senior Manager, Transformation, Culture and Change, Ontario Teacher’s Plan
When Adeola Adesola came to Rotman from Nigeria, he recalls feeling like he was thrown into the deep end — and expected to not only swim, but to compete alongside a fleet of Olympic swimmers.
“If something is hard, it’s probably hard because it’s valuable,” says Adesola. As he moved through the program, he says he found space to grow his confidence and make the most of his unique abilities — beginning a career trajectory that brought him to where he is today.
Kelly Rubin, MBA ’18
Founder, Befriend Your Strengths
For Kelly Rubin, the MBA program was a pristine opportunity to discover where her strengths lie. So much so that afterwards, she used the insights from the Clifton Strengths assessment to launch a consulting business to help others find their own unique talents and gifts.
“Coaching is really all about having someone ask certain questions in a different way, or be a sounding board that helps you surface the wisdom that’s already inside you,” Rubin says.
Lelian Girard, MBA ’14
Lelian Girard never expected to end up in the tech industry — and yet he went on to launch a tech startup that now serves schools and daycares across North America. With his background in financial services, he came to Rotman open to taking his career on a new path.
“It’s a really good opportunity to accelerate your career growth,” Girard says. “There are always ways to bridge the gap between what you’re doing now versus what you want to do.”
Written by Jessie Park | More Student Stories »