Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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One of Rotman’s mandates is to empower and support women leaders. The Rotman Morning and Evening MBA is proud to showcase women like Alicia Riolino (Evening MBA ‘19) and Alison Zimmer (Morning MBA ‘20), who together with teammates students Narjis Premjee (Full Time ‘19) and Abhinandan Sathyanarayan (Full Time ‘19) attained first place in the University of Southern California’s Everyone’s Business National Case Competition. 

The Rotman team – competing with 11 other groups each representing a top-30 business school – were tasked with devising plans to achieve gender parity and equity in the workplace as well as the boardroom. 

Abhinandan (Full Time ‘19) & Alicia (Evening MBA ‘19)

In this post, Alicia and Alison detail their exciting experience at the USC Competition, as well as their day-to-day life as students in the Morning MBA program.

 “Our victory has allowed us to contribute to our community”

Alicia considers the USC Competition represented a chance to translate in-depth research into practical business solutions targeting diversity. Additionally, the case underscored the need to think of diversity and inclusion as an innovation challenge.

The team at USC put together a very compelling prompt that highlighted the current challenges being faced by women and the lack of progress business have made in achieving gender equity. We had a blank slate to work from, which made us all the more creative in our approach.

Alison considers the opportunity to meet other business students from around the world to have been one of the many advantages of participating in the competition.


Alison (Morning MBA ‘20)

“We had been so focused on the case and our presentation leading up to the event that I almost forgot that we would have such a great opportunity to meet students from USC and around the world engaged in these issues. It was a really wonderful social and networking opportunity, and I’ve made some valuable connections.”

Alicia and Alison were ecstatic after having obtained first place, since it meant bringing $10,000 in scholarships back to Rotman that would go to support women coming into the Morning/Evening and Full-time MBA programs. 

“Our victory has allowed us to contribute to our community which will hopefully have a positive impact for future cohorts.” 

Why Rotman?

After completing an MA in Economics, Alicia was wary of starting another Master’s program. However, her opinion began to change after she interacted with MBA graduates in the workforce.

I saw clearly how the MBA offers a breadth of knowledge in important business concepts, as well as a way to communicate with business leaders. I also saw the flexibility that it gave graduates.

Alison felt that she was learning a lot about her particular industry and building relationships, but was missing a quantitative skill set and broader knowledge of the business world. She found the Rotman Morning MBA to be the perfect fit. 

Left to right: Abhinandan, Alicia, Narjis & Alison

“An MBA appealed to me because of the versatility and challenge it offered. I was impressed by Rotman, but the Morning program appealed to me in particular as a way to keep doing the work I enjoyed while studying.” 

Learning from a diverse group of peers and world-class faculty 

For Alison, the opportunity to learn from a diverse group of peers and Rotman’s world-class faculty has been her favourite aspect of the program.

I am so impressed with the depth and breadth of my classmate’s experience and insight, and it makes for an incredibly rich learning experience. I’ve also been drawn to and excelled in subject areas I didn’t previously consider thanks to great professors.

Alicia also viewed the relationships she’s built with her classmates as an essential part of her learning experience. 

"Having the chance to learn from a diverse group of peers has been the best part of my time at Rotman. I have learned so much about myself, about others and business in a very short time."

Participating teams

As a final piece of advice, both Alison and Alicia had this to say to women considering an MBA at Rotman:

“You can do it, and if you have even a tiny feeling that you might want to pursue your MBA you should try. It is, in part, through growth in the number of women in our MBA programs that we will see positive change in gender equity throughout the business world and in our classroom culture.” 

To learn more about the Morning & Evening MBA, contact

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