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These Master of Finance students are taking their careers to new and unexpected places

August 19, 2021

Emily Halverson-Duncan (MFin ’22) isn’t easily fazed.

As a finance professional, she’s used to dealing with volatile markets and uncertainty on a daily basis. As well, as a student in the Master of Finance (MFin) program at the Rotman School, she’s frequently presented with large volumes of information and completing assignments under tight deadlines.

However, a recent phone call did take her by surprise. A few months into her Rotman program, a former colleague now working in wealth management reached out to her regarding a spot on his team.

Emily Halverson-Duncan

“I’m excited to be working in a role where I am constantly learning. Every day is challenging and engaging,”

- Emily Halverson-Duncan (MFin ’22)

“It was completely out of the blue,” says Halverson-Duncan, who had primarily worked in business development roles up until that point. “I hadn’t intended on changing roles or moving into another area of finance until after completing my Master of Finance degree, but it seemed like an amazing opportunity.”

This situation is not too unusual. MFin students tend to get noticed at their workplaces and by potential employers, and many are offered promotions or new opportunities during their studies. By the time they graduate, students often find themselves on unexpected and exciting career trajectories.

Pivoting in a new direction

Luckily, Halverson-Duncan had a strong network and resources to support her through her career transition and planning.

As luck would have it, she had a call with her LEADS mentor scheduled the day after she received news of this unexpected opportunity.

Learn more about the LEADS mentorship program, where promising Rotman students are matched with experienced executives. →

“If there were ever a moment where I needed advice, this was it,” she explains. “My mentor was extremely helpful in making a situation with lots of shades of grey into one that was much more black-and-white. The conversation really helped me determine whether this was the right move for me.”

After a bit of reflection, she ultimately decided to pursue the new opportunity, and it proved to be an exciting step. Today, as an associate investment advisor at BMO Nesbitt Burns, she’s heavily focused on portfolio management (which involves modeling and researching potential trades) and client management (helping clients makes sense of their accounts and ensuring that they are well positioned for their objectives). 

I’m excited to be working in a role where I am constantly learning. Every day is challenging and engaging,” explains Halverson-Duncan.

Her classes and professors also helped make the transition easier.

“Many of my professors have real-world experience, and the topics covered in class tie into a lot of the work I do day-to-day,” she says.

For instance, the Investment Banking and Corporate Valuation class she took in her first semester furthered her knowledge of forecasting and valuation. As well, the Analysis of Fixed Income Markets class helped her better understand the bond portfolios her team managed for clients.

There are more exciting experiences to come. As she gears up for her second year in the program, she’s looking forward to getting hands-on experience in portfolio management with the capstone course and participating in the CDL Advanced Course.

Learn more about the CDL Advanced Course, where student across the Rotman School of Management contribute directly to the growth of emerging startups. →

“I think it’s going to be an extremely busy second year, but I’m excited about diving into new technologies and exploring areas of finance I’m not yet familiar with.”

Advancing rapidly

For some students, like Harsh Ruparelia (MFin ’21), their time in the MFin program is shaped by rapid career advancement.

Ruparelia enrolled in the MFin shortly after immigrating to Canada in 2018. At the start of the program, he was working as a financial advisor at a Toronto-area Scotiabank branch. Soon enough, his experience, knowledge and exceptional work started to attract attention in the organization.

He was promoted three times during the course of the MFin program. In his first semester, he moved into an associate position in commercial banking at the bank. Months later, he was promoted to a senior associate role on the same team.

Harsh Ruparelia

 Harsh Ruparelia (MFin ’21)

Recently — just a few months before graduation — he accepted a managerial role in commercial banking and global risk management at the bank. Today, he underwrites deals in mid-market commercial banking between one and five million dollars.

Read this blog post to learn more about Harsh Ruparelia (MFin ’21) and his career progression during the MFin program. →

It’s not too surprisingly that Ruparelia, who is passionate about credit and financial markets, moved up the ranks and found an ideal role so quickly.

On numerous occasions during the MFin program, he found opportunities to demonstrate his confidence and curiosity. Colleagues and managers took notice.

For instance, after listening to Professor Ramy Elitzur’s lecture on cash flow statements and analysis, Ruparelia was inspired to develop and deliver his own presentation to his colleagues at the bank.

“The program forced me to look at some seemingly simple topics, like cash flow statements, with renewed focus,” he explains. “Once I knew more about it, I had to share what I had learned with the people around me.”

He also gained more confidence in different areas of finance in which he had less experience.

“There were opportunities to work on M&A deals, develop stock pitches and try our hand at Python,” he explains. “The program gave me new experiences to discuss and draw upon.”

His colleagues and managers wanted to hear more about what he was learning. Soon, he was being invited to sit for interviews and coffee chats. And the rest — the steady progression and advancements at the bank — is history.

“I couldn’t have a chosen a better way to spend my time,” says Ruparelia. “Above all, the program showed me what I needed to maintain a career in finance — curiosity and a willingness to learn.”

Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »

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