Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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We spoke to three MFRM students from the Class of 2018, a few months into the program, and again as they returned to Rotman at the end of their Risk Management Project to find out why they chose the program, what they hope to do when they graduate, and how they found the experience of dealing with real risk challenges during their project.

In this blog post we hear from Joanna. You can also hear from Dildar and Adam on our blog.

A few months into the MFRM program…

Why did you choose the MFRM program at Rotman?

During my undergraduate degree I learned a lot about economic theory, after this I wanted to do something more tangible. Following the financial crisis, I saw there was growing demand for risk management professionals. Through two different intern positions I learned about the mutual funds industry, from the perspective of a dealership and also from the regulatory side. I became interested in how you manage risk.

How have you found the program so far? What are your highlights?

The program has been intense, however it is providing a holistic perspective of risk management. I’ve enjoyed the combination of academic learning and the careers-focus so far. It has exceeded my expectations in terms of the resources offered at Rotman; you’re not just in a school, it’s a bridge to industry. I recently attended part of a machine learning conference on campus and talked to some business founders. It was great to see the application of some of the things I’m learning.

What are you looking forward to and do you have plans about where you would like to work after graduating?

I’m really looking forward to my industry project with McKinsey. The project will consist of developing a product that would enable their teams and potentially their clients to gain insight into global and local trends on risk and compliance, in collaboration with McKinsey experts in Boston, New York, London, and Vancouver. I feel analytics is gaining a lot of attention in the industry, I feel the applicable programming skills would be relevant to a lot of fields, especially going forward. I would like to work in Consulting, which is why my project is really relevant.

After completing the Risk Management Project…

How did you find the project?

I feel I’ve been launched out there in the real world, I’ve seen things I’d not previously been exposed to during my internships. The culture at McKinsey helped with this – it was all about owning your own work stream. We were only students, but they would list us in the project teams as risk experts. This showed the degree to which they were expecting us to work at and to deliver. It really made an impact, it showed me the image that people get from students of the program, and what I’d have to live up to once I graduate. It has been intense, but it was a fantastic learning experience.

What did you do during your project?

Essentially, in my project we worked on the data visualisation of a global operational risk dashboard. We had to come up with the metrics to enable the users of the dashboard to identify operational risk based on various criteria. It would be use internally, or perhaps externally, by the clients to increase efficiency.

We used our operational risk class a lot. Many applicable skills that the professor (who is the CRO of Citibank in Canada) taught us in the class was useful. He taught us how structure is important, the proper way to communicate to senior staff, how everything we do has to adhere to a certain framework. That was the key part that we made use of during the project.

What was incredible was our opportunity to meet with one of the clients. It made a huge impact, and certainly gave me an insight into what consultants really do. Living it, it was incredible getting first hand experience, demoing the product too.

What do you think the future holds for risk management?

In the MFRM program we learn about how things are structured, how companies assess risk, the role of a CRO, everything is clear-cut. But then, in reality I found out that some organisations do not take risk at the forefront of their C-suite as much as we realise it’s importance from the program.

I can definitely see certain areas that could benefit from the skills of a risk manager, some of which are being developed in this program. Technology is also something that will play a big part in the industry when I graduate with the rise of AI and machine learning.

What are your current career plans?

The master program makes you realise you have the freedom to do whatever you want, and you have the resources to do whatever you want equipped with a specialized degree. Now it’s your choice, everything is up to you, you have everything you need to succeed, it’s what you make of it. In undergrad you can shelter yourself from it, upon the masters you cannot.

Due to my project I’m shifting more towards consulting as it could give me exposure to many different industries. I think it would be a great way to develop – I’ve seen how other consultants and business analysts have developed in a certain way – I want to work where I have the opportunity to develop this type of expertise.

The Master of Financial Risk Management is a full time program designed to prepare ambitious young professionals for careers in risk management and finance.

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