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Embracing Change: From Halifax to Rotman - Azhar Rahman, MFRM Class of 2024

H! My name is Azhar Rahman (he/him), and I am from Halifax, NS. Originally from the island of Mauritius, I came to Canada for my undergraduate studies which I pursued at Saint Mary’s University in the heart of Halifax. I graduated in May of 2020 with a Bachelor of Commerce, majoring in Finance. Given that the pandemic was in full swing, finding a job in Finance proved difficult. So when the opportunity to work in accounting at the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) presented itself to me, I could not say no. That is where my career within the government took off.  

I worked as a Problem Resolutions Officer within the Appeals branch of the CRA, liaising with offices of Members of Parliament (MP) to help taxpayers who were facing extreme hardship. While working I took and passed the Chartered Business Valuators exam 1 and 2, a certification that allows charter-holders to become valuation analysts. I always loved computing the numbers in Excel and modeling how a merger and acquisition would pan out.

Unfortunately, my progress within the field was halted as I was required to take higher-level undergraduate Accounting courses to progress in my role at the CRA. Although I excelled in the domain of accounting, after 9 months and 3 higher-level courses, I realized that my true passion was finance. That is when I started exploring programs around Canada that would tailor to my liking. I researched and found Masters programs all around the country, but the one that caught my eye was Rotman’s Masters of Financial Risk Management (MFRM). Before I took any decision, I decided to seek advice from my trusted Saint Mary’s University professors. Funny enough, one of my professors brought up the MFRM program again. That is when the lightbulb in my head lit up and a path forward was drawn. 

The reason why this program peaked my interest is because of its Risk Management project. The project is an opportunity to put in-class theory into practice, a valuable aspect given I did not have any experience in the Finance field. Needless to say that the stature of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management also played a part. Compared to its peers in Canada, Rotman is the #1 ranked school for Finance studies.

At first, I was intimidated – applying to a specialized finance program after being out of the field for 3 years got me questioning whether it was the right decision. But after my interview, I knew I'd made the right decision.  

I do not have much coding background, and I was advised during my interview that having programming knowledge would be vital to my success. The fact that I needed to get out of my comfort zone and learn a new skill encouraged me even more. As a result, I started taking online programming courses even though I had not yet been accepted to the program. I cannot say that I am proficient in Python yet, but through this program I do hope to improve my coding skills for financial analysis purposes. 

Ultimately, in participating in this program, I hope to learn new hard and soft skills that will lead to better opportunities for me in the finance field. Through the Self-Development Lab, I intend to polish my communication and presentation skills, and through the courses of Innovations in Financial Technology and Advanced Investments I intend to improve my coding skills. Given that I am new to Toronto, I also wish to make valuable friendships, connections and memories. 

All together, I know my experience at Rotman will be a special one.   

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