MFin student reflects on calling Canada home, going back to school
March 2, 2017
For Damani Thomas (MFin ’18), coming to Canada was a matter of when, not if.
A few years ago, while raising their son in Jamaica, Thomas and his wife often discussed the promising future they hoped Canada would provide their family. When Thomas’s employer, Campari, opened a new subsidiary based in Toronto, and offered him an opportunity to oversee financial projects involved with the new branch, the Thomas family packed their bags.
“When I researched Canadian business schools and looked at the quality of their programs, their professors and their campuses, Rotman was at the top of its class.”
—Damani Thomas (MFin ’18), Commercial Finance Manager, Campari
“After we made the move, I made it a priority to give myself the best possibilities to succeed,” says Thomas, who realized that upgrading his skills would give him the competitive edge to thrive in a new market. “I knew I had to come to Rotman.”
Blending Finance Theory with Hands-on Experience
Before coming to Toronto and taking on his new role as finance project manager at Campari, Thomas had already acquired a wealth of financial training and experience. He had passed his CFA Level 1, 2 and 3 exams, earned a Master’s degree in Economics, and worked as a financial planning and analysis manager for Campari, back in Jamaica.
In addition to fulfilling his job responsibilities, which include tracking Campari’s sales analytics, overseeing budgets and researching the impact of potential commercial agreements, he was looking to advance his financial knowledge.
After only a few months of starting his 20-month Rotman MFin, Thomas has already seen the value of the program.
“Principles from the accounting classes were applicable right away,” says Thomas. “My conversations with accountants are more meaningful and deeper now. I have a better appreciation of the techniques that can be used to analyze statements and draw insights. I was also able to apply many new learnings from the Forecasting Risk and Opportunities course to refining the company’s sales planning methods.”
Outside of class, in his first semester, Thomas participated in the school’s stock pitch and portfolio management competitions and was a member of the Rotman team that competed in the CFA’s recent Ethics Challenge in Toronto.
For Thomas, these experiences have been eye-opening.
“It was a phenomenal learning experience,” explains Thomas. “I got a hand’s on feel for aspects of finance — from trading to portfolio management — that I had never been exposed to before.”
Balancing Work, School and Family
On most weekdays, after dinner with the family, and putting his six-year-old son to bed, Thomas starts his school work at 9 pm in the evening. Most evenings, he studies until midnight. Occasionally, he Skypes with group members or send out a group chat to his classmates to discuss an assignment or a recent lesson.
Though striking that balance between work, school and family has been challenging, Thomas and his wife were prepared.
“We knew there would be sacrifices. But we also knew that, in the long run, I would have the qualifications to advance and transition into more senior roles,” says Thomas.
Ultimately, the family’s recent decisions have paid off.
“Canada and Rotman have exceeded our expectations,” says Thomas, who recently became a permanent resident of the country. “Though we could do without these cold winters.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung