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Meet Some Recent Grads

Find out why these recent Skoll BASc/MBA graduates chose the program and what it has done for their careers.

Amy Chong,
BASc/MBA '14

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Amy Chong, BASc/MBA '14

Amy's Story

Country of Origin: Canada
Engineering Discipline: Industrial Engineering
PEY Experience: Canadian Tire Corporation as a Supply Chain Analyst
MBA Internship: Design Management Institute (in Boston) as a User Researcher
Post-MBA Career: Airbnb (in San Francisco) as a Design Researcher

Why Skoll/MBA? 

During my PEY, I realized that I didn't know much about the business world. I've never taken a finance, marketing, sales, or strategy class before in high school or undergrad. I wanted to close this knowledge gap immediately - I felt I was already "behind" (i.e. should have branched out earlier in undergrad). It is critical to think about the system from multiple perspectives to be able to make those really big, important decisions. I chose to focus on business design at Rotman because I believe that  engineers need to consider the business and people side while building things, if they want to truly make an impact.

Andrew Pienkow,
BASc/MBA '14

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Andrew Pienkow, BASc/MBA '14

Andrew's Story

Country of Origin: Canada
Engineering Discipline: Mechanical Engineering
PEY Experience: Aerospace (Messier-Dowty)
MBA Internship: CIBC (Project Management)
Post-MBA plan/job: Marketing (Pharmaceutical)

Why Skoll/MBA?
Simple. All you need to know NOW, is that you want something in business. You're not expected to have everything sorted out, that's what the program is for. The SKOLL program puts incredible support, guidance and resources behind you to ensure you grow from engineering graduate to fully capable and confident business professional. I now have the ability, knowledge and drive to take on jobs that I would never have been able to at this point without the SKOLL program.

Contact me
I was in your shoes not too long ago with lots of questions. Ask me! 

Cass Evans,
BASc/MBA '13

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Cass Evans, BASc/MBA '13

Cass' Story

Country of Origin: Canadian
Engineering Discipline: Chemical
PEY Experience:  Integran Technologies
MBA Internship: Kohl & Frisch Ltd

Why Skoll/MBA?

Engineering was my choice of undergrad because of my interest in science and aptitude in math. A pretty typical story. I picked the chemical field because I thought I might want to go into the Energy sector when I graduated.

I did a bunch of unrelated engineering jobs to get a taste of where I could start my career. Summer jobs related to nuclear energy, industrial heating and cooling, and my PEY position in an R&D role.

I thought to myself if I am going to be spending a good chunk of my day working, I would like to be enjoy it. I didn’t see myself becoming an Engineer. More importantly I didn’t seem to enjoy it. I started to think about Business.

I wasn’t sure if it made sense to go into MBA School right away, but I wanted to transition away from Engineering, and the Skoll program was a great opportunity to pick up a business skillset. I was thrilled when I was accepted.

As I started at Rotman and explored new career opportunities, I thought back and realized that the things I truly excelled in were things I had a genuine interest in, where my focus and attention span seemed to have no bounds. Despite being a very competitive person, I knew I might not have a very successful career in finance or consulting simply because the fit was not there. I starting thinking a marketing role in a smaller business might be a good fit.

My summer Job at Rotman was for a pharmaceutical distributor that was launching an eCommerce business. While designing the business with marketing, accounting, human resources, law, and IT considerations, I felt that attention span of mine spark up. The business was launched shortly after I graduated in 2013 and accepted a full time job here, and it is so fulfilling to watch this business grow. I have to thank the Skoll program for having such a great start to my career.

I have noticed my thought process is much different post-MBA. I always think things through from a broader strategic standpoint and the implications on the business. My engineering background has given me a deep analytical approach and the lens to troubleshoot just about any problem.  Having these two ways of thinking is a pretty powerful combo. 

Charlene Liu,
BASc/MBA '14

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Charlene Liu, BASc/MBA '14

Charlene's Story

Country of Origin: China
Engineering Discipline: Material Science and Engineering
PEY Experience: Worked as a research assistant in Trojan Technologies
MBA Internship: MBA intern in Trade Finance, Citibank Hong Kong
Post-MBA Career: Business Development Executive, Infosys Limited.


Why Skoll/MBA?

With passion and strong interests in business, I joined the Skoll/MBA program upon graduation, which offers an accelerated and integrative path in both Engineering and Business.

Previously I have worked on the research and development of proprietary waste water solution at Trojan Technologies. I also got exposed to Corporate Finance and Trade Finance during my MBA studies when I worked at Teva Canada and Citibank N.A. Hong Kong. These valuable experiences are significant to me to develop my interests and skills for professional career.

Chris Siemieniuch,
BASc/MBA '13

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Chris Siemieniuch, BASc/MBA '13

Chris' Story

Country of Origin: Canada (born & raised in Toronto)
Engineering Discipline: Mechanical

PEY Experience: Board Program Manager (BPM) at AMD (Advanced MicroDevices) - supported end to end development of high end retail graphics cards.

MBA Internship: Partner, Impact Consulting Group - managed entire consulting lifecycle, including business development and engagement delivery.

Post-MBA Career: Consultant, Technology Strategy & Architecture, Deloitte.  Focusing on the payments and post-merger integration space for Financial Services Industry (FSI) clients.


Why Skoll/MBA? 

The Skoll program offered an accelerated career path and opportunity to differentiate myself from my peers.  The business thinking I learned at Rotman complemented the analytical engineering approach, and helped position me for success after graduation.


Chris Yardy,
BASc/MBA '13

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Chris Yardy, BASc/MBA '13

Chris' Story

Country of origin: Canada
Engineering discipline: Civil

PEY Experience: I spent 16 months at Hatch Mott MacDonald, a North American civil engineering consulting & design firm. I worked in the geotechnical group on the Spadina subway extension project for the TTC, which involved the design of 6.4km of twin tunnels underneath various structures in North York and Vaughan.

MBA Internship: I spent 4 months as a summer investment analyst at Teachers' Infrastructure Group, a $10 billion infrastructure private equity investment portfolio within the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan. 
Post-MBA Career: I currently work as an investment analyst for the global equities team at OMERS Capital Markets, the public investment arm of OMERS, a $65 billion Canadian pension fund. The global equity portfolio is a $3 billion equity long/short (market neutral) portfolio, and invests in a concentrated set of high-conviction investment ideas where we believe there is a material price to value discrepancy. Our approach is value-driven, and our research is based on an analysis of bottom-up fundamentals. We believe our edge is derived from having a superior understanding of industry and company economics, rather than an informational advantage.

Why Skoll/MBA?
I chose the Skoll MBA primarily as a means to make a career change from engineering to investments. The Skoll program was an excellent opportunity to attend a strong business school without having the level of work experience that is typically sought after in a full-time MBA candidate at any top business school (2+ yrs); today, many of the friends I met in engineering who were pursuing management, consulting, finance, or entrepreneurial paths are just now considering or entering a business program. I felt that Rotman's strong finance background was a good fit with what I wanted to focus on, while still teaching me the mental models I would need in order to understand how all the different parts of a business work together. In addition, I also had many opportunities to meet with experienced investment professionals, as well as develop a personal network of like-minded investors and other industry professionals who I now discuss ideas with regularly. Finally, the Skoll scholarship was invaluable, and went a long way to reducing my financial burden; without a scholarship, I might not have been able to attend such a program in that stage of my life.

Jennifer Aiello,
BASc/MBA '08

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Jennifer Aiello, BASc/MBA '08

Jennifer's Story

Jennifer Aiello is a 2008 graduate of the Jeffrey Skoll BASc/MBA Program. She began what promises to be an outstanding career in healthcare almost a decade ago as a young volunteer at Etobicoke General Hospital. Now she is looking forward to a career in healthcare consulting.

“I wanted to become a doctor,” she says, “but you don’t need to be a doctor to help people or change the system. Doctors really have the least amount of time to change things. It is the consultants and people at the ministries of health who help to make change.”

Improving access to care and reducing wait times are among the issues she is anxious to address. “We’re going into a new era. In the last 10 years, new infectious diseases have surfaced and cancer has become more prevalent. There will be even greater changes in the next decade. Everything I’ve done has centred around change; I got excited about the healthcare industry.”

Jennifer chose engineering for her first degree because she knew it would teach her effective problem-solving skills—with a view to becoming a physician. “As a doctor you’re solving problems all the time. What better way to learn than engineering?” She specialized in biomedical engineering, with a particular emphasis on orthopedics and materials—learning to build fracture fixation plates, for example.

During her Professional Engineering Year (PEY), in keeping with her longstanding commitment to healthcare, she went to work for pharmaceuticals maker Apotex. That is when she began to think seriously of a career in business consulting. “I thought I’d really like the business world. There you have a great opportunity to help people.” The Skoll Program became her path to a career devoted to making healthcare better.

“I enjoyed every single aspect of the Rotman School MBA,” she says. “The engineering program was rigorous and packed full of work and the MBA is a very intense program too, but I already had the work ethic engrained in me, so that came easy. I was used to it.” The transition really involved a shift in thinking, particularly in creative areas such as strategy and marketing. “That’s a different type of problem-solving, involving interaction with others. Rotman stresses the importance of social skills in the working environment.”

Since 1999 when she began her career as a volunteer, Jennifer has remained actively involved, at the Hospital for Sick Children and Big Brothers and Sisters of Toronto, for example. During her MBA years she volunteered to help advance women in business through groups such as Women in Capital Markets and the Women in Management Association. As SheBiz Coordinator for Women in Management she organized a day- long symposium that gave young women a chance to explore career options. “By listening to successful women in industry they learn that there’s more to do out there than be a doctor, lawyer or pharmacist.”

The Skoll Program helps women and men, she says, because degrees in engineering and business lend twice the credibility or more to graduates.

In addition to healthcare and women in business, Jennifer has worked for her local political candidates and is now vice-chair of the Etobicoke Centre Young Liberals Association and sits on the riding association executive as vice-chair of youth. She has worked with her local member of Parliament to petition for federal assistance for Somalia and she helped her local member of the Ontario Legislature raise the Italian flag at Queen’s Park for the first time in history. She does not rule out a career in politics: “A definite possibility,” she says.

Jennifer recommends the Skoll Program to other engineering students unreservedly. “It’s fantastic. There should be a spot for every single engineer. It has been amazing seven years. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

Negar Mokhtarnia,
BASc/MBA '14

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Negar Mokhtarnia, BASc/MBA '14

Negar's Story

Country of Origin: Iran
Engineering Discipline: Mechanical Engineering, Minor in Mechatronics and Robotics
PEY Experience: Product Engineering Designer, Cimco Refrigeration
MBA Internship: Finance Associate (Post-acquisition Integration), Kohl and Frisch Limited
Post-MBA Career: Territory Manager, Imperial Oil Limited

Why Skoll/MBA?

After my PEY I know that I seriously lacked business knowledge and that it would limit me in the future and hence I started looking at MBA schools. In addition I talked to many MBAs with a similar background and I realized that the experience that I was going to gain working at a technical job would not be relevant to the business knowledge I was seeking. Hence, I felt that I should do my MBA while I had the great support system of my peers and the faculty.