Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Ever thought about spending the day in the shoes of an Executive MBA student? That’s why Rotman created the Buddy Experience Program, which pairs up a current EMBA student with a prospective applicant. For this post, we paired up two incredible people: Gillian Story (EMBA 39) and Alexis Clarfield-Henry, who spent the day together in and outside of class to gain a unique perspective of the program. 

Why the Executive MBA?

Gillian – a Program Manager at Sun Life Financial with a background in the arts – joined the EMBA Program to gain essential leadership skills and critical knowledge for the corporate world. A firm believer in lifelong learning, she knew she wanted to widen her outlook on business.  

“I’ve learned so much through working in the arts and now at Sun Life, but I knew that there were gaps I wanted to address – I felt a drive to level up and take myself to Gillian 2.0!”

The EMBA format appealed to Gillian because it allowed her to continue her work at Sun Life Financial while gaining the benefits of an in-person classroom environment. She also chose Rotman because of its unique integrative model and the 13-month program duration. 

“I really wanted the chance to be in a classroom with all my peers and share that learning and growing experience together.”

She was excited to help a potential student experience the day-to-day reality of the Executive MBA and make them more comfortable in an environment that might be a bit intimidating at first. 

“I think the Buddy Experience allows prospective students to really see that, while there’s no question these are very smart, driven people, everyone is learning together and you don’t need to be (too) intimidated.”

Why visit Rotman?

Alexis – Director of Product Marketing at Instacart – began her research in business schools with the goal of choosing a program that would widen her scope and allow her to contribute to her company on a higher level. She appreciated the format of the Executive MBA Program at Rotman because of its accommodating schedule for her full-time work. 

“It’s fantastic that I won’t have to take a break from the workforce in order to do my MBA, and can apply what I’m learning to my role in real time.”

Impressed by Rotman’s focus on leadership and diversity, Alexis decided to take the plunge with the Buddy Experience. She was most excited about getting an inside look of the program first-hand from someone who was currently experiencing it. 

“I’ll get a candid perspective of both the challenges and rewards [the students] are experiencing and also be able to witness a “day-in-the-life” as it is happening live!”

The Buddy Experience

For the Buddy Experience Program, the prospective students are welcome to attend the full day of classes – which run from 8:30am-7:30pm on Fridays or 8:30-4:00pm on Saturdays, with breaks and meals included. Alexis was able to attend Organizational Leadership and Finance. She was particularly surprised to learn how engaged she was by Finance and how accessible it was for a non-specialist in the subject. 
“I think that’s a testament to this particular Professor’s ability to present the finance content in an engaging, informative way, at a pace that worked for the group. It makes me excited to be back in class!”

Gillian found the experience to be invigorating because it was an opportunity to re-experience the program from a different perspective. She also realized how far she had progressed since first joining the program and was glad to introduce Alexis to her classmates. 

“It made me realize how far I’ve come in just the first semester, from feeling so nervous… to now being so embedded in the class and thrilled to introduce [Alexis] to my peers.”

For Alexis, the most interesting aspect of the visit was to observe how absorbed current students were during the classes. 

“In my short time there, I could tell how close the group was, how much bonding had clearly taken place in the first semester, and how supportive they were of each other. I can totally understand why the Rotman EMBA alumni network is so strong!”

In 13 months, gain the robust business training and transformational leadership skills you need to take your career to the next level with the One-Year Executive MBA

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