Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Choosing the Morning MBA for flexibility, networking, and the full Rotman MBA experience

Casandra Soares
Rotman Morning MBA '23

Current Role: Associate Director, Corporate Finance 
Previous Role: National Associate, Public Sector

What motivated you to pursue an MBA? And why at Rotman?

I wanted to pursue further education for personal development, self-discovery, and to explore my interests. With an undergraduate degree in accounting and a current career in finance, I felt that I could benefit from broadening my education beyond the finance sector. 

Regarding my choice to attend Rotman specifically, a friend of mine had completed the Morning MBA program the year before and had only positive things to say about it. After exploring different MBA options, I found that Rotman offered the most comprehensive program, with a healthy balance between academics, extracurriculars, and flexibility for a working professional. 

Why did you pursue the Morning MBA specifically? Are you an early bird?

To be honest, I wouldn't describe myself as an early bird prior to the MBA. However, I was drawn to the morning program because I didn't want to give up my evenings for an extended period. With a busy work schedule, I found that evenings often fill up quickly, leaving little time for anything else. In contrast, there's rarely anything scheduled at 7am, so I had the flexibility to attend classes without sacrificing anything. Ultimately, I believed that the morning program would add to my life rather than take away from it.

What's been the most challenging part of the program so far for you?

I think the most challenging aspect of pursuing an MBA, and I'm sure many would agree, is learning how to effectively manage my time, to find balance, and to properly establish priorities. However, this ended up being the most valuable learning experience for me. Developing those skills has helped me tremendously in other areas of my life, and after three years, I feel much more confident in my ability to find time to do all of the important things in a day. 

What's the most valuable skill or knowledge that you've gained from the program so far?

The biggest challenges are the best learning experience. Learning how to balance your time effectively, prioritize tasks, and ensure that you have enough time in your day to accomplish everything you want to is one of the most transferrable and useful skills I have picked up on the program It's true that time seems to expand as you take on more responsibilities. 

How have you found the faculty and their teaching methods in the program?

One of the things I love about the program is that professors are accessible and available to answer questions and provide guidance, and many of them have firsthand industry experience in fields related to my own work. In fact, I even brought some work challenges to a few of my professors, and their insights were incredibly helpful. Overall, I found the faculty to be open, engaged, and truly invested in the success of all their students, which was fantastic.

Wonderful. Can you describe a particular project or assignment that you've found especially beneficial?

I took Managerial Negotiations and Advanced Negotiations in the program, and I found both of those classes to be extremely interesting and valuable. The final assignment for those classes were term papers, where I spent time reflecting on my own negotiating strengths and weaknesses both inside and outside of the classroom. It was a really great introspective exercise and an obvious way to identify transferable skills from the class.

How would you describe the morning MBA culture?

The culture of the morning MBA is, above all else, supportive. Everyone has a life outside of school, including families and work commitments. When it comes to getting through challenging periods at school, everyone lifts each other up, helps each other, and picks up the slack when needed. It's just a great, supportive community, and I think it’s more noticeable in the morning program than anywhere else. 

What is the difference between the Morning and Evening cohorts? What do you think?

I spend most of my time with the morning cohort, so I might not have a complete picture, but it seems like there are a lot of parents in the morning cohort. There are also fewer people, in my experience, who are looking to completely change their careers. Instead, there are many established professionals who are looking to advance in their current careers. These people tend to have busy evenings and 7-9AM may be the only available time for them to attend classes.

Have you been able to make a career switch or receive a promotion because of the degree?

I'm currently in my third role in the last three years, so I've made some career moves, although they are still within the same department and company. I believe that the MBA has played a significant role in helping me advance in my career by building up skills that have been recognized and valued by my employer.

What are some of the networking opportunities that you've had as part of the morning MBA program?

I think the most significant network I've built is with my cohort, including with students across the Morning, Evening, and Full-Time programs. These are all fantastic people and spending multiple hours a week with these individuals, you create a bond that is quite substantial. I anticipate maintaining lifelong relationships with some of them, which is incredible. The alumni network is also fantastic. Meeting other Rotman alumni creates an immediate connection that wasn't there before. I'm looking forward to participating in various alumni events in the future to continue to grow my Rotman network!

How does the morning program compare to other MBA programs that you considered? Like what were, when you were thinking about applying to the program, what made you decide to go in this direction?

I met with several schools when considering this program, but I knew I wanted to continue working, so I only looked at part-time or extended programs like this one. Ultimately, I sat in on sample lectures at each of the schools and spoke with current and past students in those programs. I evaluated what I would be able to gain from each program and found that, even though the Morning MBA at Rotman is the longest program, I felt that it offered more than other part-time or accelerated programs. There are opportunities to join clubs and get involved beyond academics, which is not something that is really an option with other part-time, accelerated, or extended MBA programs. I even completed a Global Practicum course, which was a Business Design course that was set in Singapore.  While the program was one of the longest I looked at, it gave me more time to connect with classmates and engage with the MBA community. I had years to build connections, and the slow burn for learning suited my personal style better.

Can you talk to me a little bit about your international trip? That sounds like fun!

I had so much fun during the Global Practicum! I spent around two weeks in Singapore with a group of 25 classmates and a few faculty members. Singapore is a bit of a Business Design hub, so we spent our time meeting with innovative businesses and learning directly from the teams there. We also had some fun tours around the city (I would recommend a Singapore food tour to anyone) and had time to connect with classmates outside of a traditional classroom setting. It was an incredible learning opportunity and a fantastic way to connect with my classmates off-campus. Plus, getting to go to Singapore was just amazing - I'm not sure when I'll get to go on a field trip like that again. I'm grateful for the experience!

And what advice would you give someone who is considering the morning MBA program at Rotman?

Ultimately, it's important to think about what you want to achieve with an MBA and to explore programs that align with those goals. Each program has its own unique strengths and benefits, so understanding what you're looking for is key. Talking to past and current students, along with attending sample lectures were great tools for me to get a better sense of what each program really offered and helped me pick the program that was right for me. 

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