Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Q and A with Ava Athari, MFRM '17
  • Degree: Master of Financial Risk Management
  • Graduating year: 2017
  • Prior education: BA (Econ) Accounting and Finance, University of Manchester
  • Job following graduation: Senior Tax Staff, International Tax Services – Transfer Pricing, Ernst & Young LLP (Canada)

Why did you decide to study the Master of Financial Risk Management program?

Going for the Master of Financial Risk Management was all about developing and expanding my knowledge and skill-set to qualify for the job I could not previously qualify for, while also making sure I was going to stay relevant in today’s world, where technicality and programming are valued more than ever. 

Top reason for choosing Rotman

The reputation of the school and its faculty members as well as the school location were certainly determining factors that influenced my decision. But in addition to its prestige and prominence, which will undoubtedly serve as an advantage in the job seeking process, Rotman is very clear in ensuring that there will be a support team to help students through their journey. For me, that support system which had shown to be aware of the most recent developments in the financial environment was a deciding factor. 

Highlight of the Rotman experience

The two-month Rotman Risk Management Project was, without a doubt, the most important phase of the program; the project provided me with the opportunity to closely witness how the most recent important developments in the financial sector unfold within a large financial institution, to exercise the theoretical financial concepts I had been previously exposed to, to start developing the skill-set that I never possessed but wanted to develop, and to evaluate my abilities and interest for a targeted career. The least one gets out of the experience is to grasp what career field their focus should be narrowed down to, given their newly nurtured understanding of financial risk management and given their abilities. 

Extra-curricular activities 

Rotman will provide students with plenty of opportunities to participate in different case competitions, club activities and speaker series. As an MFRM student, however, you will have to carefully manage your time. Along with another three MFRM classmates, I did take part in the annual regional PRMIA Risk Challenge. Thanks to the risk management and presentation skills that we had worked on during the entire first semester, we reached the finals and won the regionals. The prizes that followed only paved the way for another competition on a global scale as well as for a bundle of career opportunities. 

Involvement in career services

What to you may not seem to be a problem in your preparation process leading up to an interview, may in fact be a problem that you [yourself] may not be aware of. Carolyn, the Assistant Director, Career Service, helped me realize what I was doing wrong at the right time; I landed the job I was being interviewed for after my practice session with Carolyn. 

What would you say to someone considering choosing the Rotman MFRM?

The opportunity to get placed in one of your favorite top financial institutions and in one of your treasured divisions to closely follow how projects develop and to put into practice the material that you have just been taught, should in no way be taken for granted. The choice of the financial institution and the topic you want to work on should be well thought through; as much as there will always be a great support staff and team behind you to allow for a smooth learning experience, much of what can be learnt from the projects will depend upon your eagerness to delve deeper. The classmate that I was teamed up with and I were very fortunate to be able to spend our two-month project at National Bank of Canada’s office in Montreal with a big incredibly supporting team, where we had every possible opportunity to work and learn more about both basic and complex risk management topics including the Fundamental Review of the Trading Book. 

I would also advise the upcoming applicants to consider maintaining programming at the heart of their learning experience even if that would imply and involve preparation in advance to the start of the program. 

What will you be doing after graduation?

I was fortunate enough to land a position as a senior staff in the Transfer Pricing team at Ernst & Young’s Montreal office right after finishing Rotman Risk Management Project. I am equally fortunate to be surrounded by a supporting staff at EY Montreal, who make my learning experience fascinating by keeping me exposed to financial transactions and risk management.

One of the first ever projects that I became engaged in, involved the exact same assignment that I had previously completed for a course in the MFRM program. And, that is yet another way through which MFRM keeps you relevant to what goes on in the real world.
 

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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