As Andrew Davidson (Executive MBA ’17) was completing the final semester of his Executive MBA program, he began to give serious thought to the next phase of his career.
Andrew Davidson (Executive MBA ’17)
He had come up with a few ideas. During the program, he had connected with classmates from various industries and learned about different business areas and markets. Still, he had a lot of questions on where to navigate next. It wasn’t until he started reaching out to alumni and students on Rotman Connect that he took steps towards a career transition.
A year after graduation, and after months of networking with colleagues on the platform, he uprooted his life and relocated to the Muskoka area to take on a new role, in a new industry.
“There was a lot of change in a short span of time,” explains Davidson, who is now a commercial account manager at RBC. “Through the networking that I did on Rotman Connect, I learned a lot and met my now-boss. It drove an important career change. I landed in a role that I’m very happy in.”
This is just one Rotman Connect success story.
The platform is a go-to site for those looking to stay connected with all things related to Rotman and professional development. Users can access Rotman event highlights, download issues of Rotman Management and share management insights.
It’s also where students and alumni can find potential mentors, get quick professional advice or learn about industries that are new to them. The platform syncs directly with a user’s LinkedIn profile, removing the need to create separate login credentials or another profile.
Importantly, Rotman Connect removes a barrier in professional networking. Those on the platform are serious about offering time and advice to fellow students and alumni.
It was the engaged userbase that initially drew Davidson to the platform.
“With Rotman Connect, alumni and students make a point of being there. From the outset, they sign on with the intention of helping,” he explains.
This proved to be the case when Davidson came across Frank Berdan’s post. Berdan (Executive MBA ’97), who is a VP in commercial banking for North-Central Ontario at RBC, had posted a message to the main Rotman Connect feed indicating that he was open to speaking with students and grads interested in learning more about his field.
“I’m always willing to talk to any graduates wanting to explore a career in commercial banking. It’s one area of business where graduates get to practice and hone their MBA skills every day. Every client is a new case study,” says Berdan. “For me, I see Rotman Connect as a great way to network, to look for job opportunities that may or may not be in your current employment field, or to find new talent.”
Davidson jumped at the opportunity to connect.
“It was a chance to talk to a VP and get a sense of what he's looking for and how I might make a move into the industry,” says Davidson, who had been considering commercial banking and had long been interested in RBC.
Their initial interactions helped Davidson understand how some of his existing skills and experience might be transferable to a commercial banking role. The two later met in person, and Berdan connected him to other VPs at RBC in Guelph and Kitchener, where Davidson was living at the time. Eventually, an opportunity came up to join Berdan’s team in Muskoka, and Davidson interviewed for and accepted the position.
Today, Davidson is settled and thriving in his commercial banking role — and he’s looking forward to getting back on Connect to help new grads looking for advice on how to break into the industry.
“I would never have known about some of the opportunities out there without connecting with Frank,” he says. “So, I'd be happy to speak with alumni and help them out in the same way I've been helped.”
Giving back and sharing lessons learned
For others, engaging on the platform is a way to give back.
“I've found that when you are a middle level manager or junior manager, there aren’t many resources available to you,” explains Avinash Sohal (MBA ’06), who has more than 14 years of experience in medical devices sales and marketing. “When I was coming up, I was looking for people who I could speak with openly about my ambitions and goals.”
Avinash Sohal (MBA ’06)
In early 2020, he posted on the Rotman Connect feed, offering mentoring or advisory sessions to early-stage and mid-level professionals. Many took him up on his offer, and he worked closely with one student and one recent grad, connecting with them one-on-one every two to three weeks, over the course of a few months.
He’s also been eager to share what he’s currently learning or working on with Rotman colleagues. When Sohal was on the job market this summer, he faced new challenges while preparing for interviews during the pandemic.
“If you haven’t been actively applying and interviewing for roles for a few years, it takes a bit of practice to get used to presenting your knowledge and experience again,” says Sohal, who recently started a new marketing role with Arjo, a global medical devices supplier. “It’s a competitive market and preparation is key to acing the interview, so I signed on to Rotman Connect to offer my support for mock interviews and in answering general job search questions.”
Rotman Connect is also a way of keeping in touch with an important network.
“With other professional networking sites, your feed tends to get very cluttered very quickly. With Rotman Connect, there’s a focus,” says Sohal. “Since graduating, I have contacted hundreds of alumni. I don't think anyone has ever refused to help or dismissed my request.”
“If you’re looking for help, this is the best pool of people to reach out to. It’s a powerful network.”
Developing a strong community that you can count on
It’s not just alumni who turn to the platform. Many students, like Grace Cheong (MBA ’21) have logged onto Rotman Connect for help and advice.
Grace Cheong (MBA ’21)
Cheong posted to Rotman Connect in early September 2020, looking for leads for potential internship opportunities. A few grads responded to her call and one recommended her for an internship at his organization. Though it didn’t work out — she secured an internship with Scotiabank on her own — she appreciated the effort.
“A lot of the alumni are very active on Connect. It’s great to see people reach out and support you without hesitation.”
She sees a lot of value in students using the site in their networking, especially as so much of the business school experience involves making connections and building a strong base of support. Cheong plans on becoming more active on the platform. After her internship, she’ll be starting a full-time role at the bank, and it’s reassuring to know she has a network to turn to.
“I can tell there have been enhancements made to the site, and it’s become more user friendly. I’m looking forward to seeing the platform grow and evolve further,” she says. “There’s so much value in bringing this community of people together.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »