How this Morning MBA ’16 broke into the executive level
June 7, 2019
After years of steady career progression, Tania Narciso (Morning MBA ’16) started to feel like she had hit a barrier.
“I had spent a number of years at great organizations, eventually landing senior management roles, but I didn’t quite know how to break into the executive level,” explains Narciso, who at that point, had amassed more than five years of experience managing risk and compliance departments at financial institutions.
“While I encountered many supportive mentors and managers, I knew that if I wanted to move up it was up to me to make it happen,” she says.
Shortly after, she decided to enroll in the Morning MBA program at Rotman, ready to get a handle on the management fundamentals she would need to advance.
Getting her organization on board
Many working professionals face their greatest challenge in pursuing an MBA before they even step into the classroom. They may find it difficult to get their managers or teams to agree to the absences from the office required by their studies. And some workplaces might have their own ideas about how best to pursue professional development.
“Well-meaning but short-sighted colleagues would tell me how the MBA would be a lot of work and how the subject matter wouldn’t be directly relevant to my job,” explains Narciso, who is now chief compliance officer of the Canadian affiliate of a leading global technology platform company for digital and mobile payments.
She approached the challenge strategically. She aligned herself with key influencers and leaders at her organization. Narciso asked about how they had advanced in their careers and the specific skills they had acquired and drawn on to succeed.
“I kept hearing about how the MBA was the best way to build credibility in business, and that it would give me a formal grounding in strategy, finance and key business areas,” says Narciso.
By the time she had made up her mind to go back to school, she had accumulated a number of mentors and sponsors at work who backed her decision.
“When it came time to make my pitch — to ask for flexibility in my work hours, especially around key times of the year when I knew I would be busy studying and completing assignments — my workplace understood why it was necessary and important for me.”
Narciso, who had two young children she started the Morning MBA (she is now a mother of three) also had support from her family.
“I made a conscious effort to involve the people in my circle in my success, especially around the planning and scheduling.”
“The Morning MBA program gave me the licence to speak up and point out better solutions.”
—Tania Narciso, Morning MBA ’16
Moving seamlessly from Rotman to the workplace
From her first day of class, Narciso was immediately inspired by the thought leadership she encountered at the School. She immediately started learning about new frameworks for approaching strategy and leadership.
Some days, it felt like the transition from Rotman to work was seamless.
Narciso recalls that during one early morning accounting class, she listened to a lecture on the different components of a financial statement. When she arrived at work later that day, she used the concepts she had just covered in class to go over financial statements in the office.
“The material was fresh in my mind, and I was tying the information reflected in the financial reports back to the risk measures I was overseeing,” she says.
More than that, the MBA gave her the knowledge and confidence to go beyond the frameworks and models that she had been trained to follow on the job.
“The Morning MBA program gave me the licence to speak up and point out better solutions,” she says.
It wasn’t long before others took notice.
In her second year in the program, she moved to a new role at Cidel, now a Canadian private bank and asset manager. As the organization’s new vice-president of compliance and chief anti-money laundering officer, Narciso used her technical background and her knowledge in effective leadership and strategy to support a merger, as well as contribute to the design of a Canadian banking risk and compliance framework.
A year after graduating from the Morning MBA program, she started a new role, which she currently holds, as chief compliance officer and head of risk, compliance and security for a major organization that specializes in digital payments.
While Rotman didn’t directly present her with these opportunities, the program did position her well for the new roles.
“It’s hard to explain how the career progression happened,” she explains. “It came about naturally. Once I started learning the material, I had the confidence to ask questions. Soon, I was participating more, at a much higher level in work meetings. People started to take notice and it set things in motion.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »