Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

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Q&A with Prashant Kumar, MFin ‘24

Why did you decide to study the MFin program?  

As an engineer by profession with over 9 years of experience, I have had the privilege of working with some of the world's leading engineering companies. My most recent role was as a Senior Engineer in the Operation Excellence division of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), UAE. However, I have always harbored a strong passion for capital markets, particularly the equity and derivative trading, which have captivated me for years. In fact, I have been actively involved in options trading since 2013, which further fueled my desire to pursue a career in the capital market. 

To successfully transition into this new field and equip myself with the necessary skills, I decided to pursue a Master of Finance (MFin) program from a top-ranked business school in Canada. The MFin program's curriculum offers a comprehensive understanding of financial markets, investments, and risk management, which aligns well with my passion for equity and derivative trading. Courses like "Forecasting risk & Derivative application”, “Portfolio Management," and "Fixed Income Analysis" will not only strengthen my theoretical foundation but also provide practical skills needed to excel in the capital markets. Furthermore, the program offers opportunities for hands-on experience through case studies, simulations, and industry projects, which will help bridge the gap between my engineering background and financial expertise. 

I believe this program, combined with my pursuit of additional financial certifications, will enable me to effectively apply my analytical and problem-solving abilities from engineering to the world of finance, ultimately allowing me to fulfil my passion for capital markets. 

What was your main reason for choosing Rotman?  

One of the primary reasons I chose Rotman was its prestigious global reputation, which extends far beyond North America. This esteemed institution is well-regarded for its high academic standards and its commitment to nurturing the next generation of industry leaders. I was particularly drawn to the innovative curriculum of the MFin program, which combines rigorous coursework in finance with opportunities for experiential learning, such as case competitions and internships. 

Rotman boasts a world-class faculty with extensive experience in both academia and the financial industry. Professors Ramy Elitzur and Lawrence Booth played a pivotal role in helping me smoothen my transition from engineering to finance. They were not only instrumental in their respective "Advanced Accounting" and "Foundations of Finance" courses, but also in their support beyond the classroom. Professor Elitzur's teachings on the art of war, profitability analysis, and his unique approach to analyzing companies have profoundly influenced my perspective on finance. The faculty's accessibility and dedication to students' success have been invaluable throughout my journey at Rotman. 

Additionally, the hands-on learning experiences, such as Tom McCarthy's real-time trading cases in the finance lab, provided excellent exposure to hedge fund and risk management practices. Moreover, Rotman offers a diverse and inclusive learning environment that fosters collaboration and intellectual growth. 

As I plan to build my career in Canada, Rotman's strong presence in the Canadian market and its extensive network of alumni and industry connections make it the ideal choice for me. By pursuing my master's degree at Rotman, I am confident that I will receive not only a world-class education but also the resources and opportunities necessary to excel in my chosen field.  

How did your engineering background contribute to your Rotman experience?  

My engineering background played a significant role in enhancing my experience at Rotman. While I initially faced challenges due to my non-finance background, the support and encouragement I received from both my professors and classmates were instrumental in my growth. They created an inclusive learning environment, where I felt comfortable asking even the most basic questions and received valuable guidance. 

In turn, my engineering background allowed me to contribute a unique perspective to classroom discussions and group projects. For instance, during a group assignment on financial modeling, I was able to leverage my analytical and problem-solving skills to optimize our model and improve its accuracy, while also sharing valuable insights on data interpretation with my teammates. This mutually beneficial exchange of ideas enriched not only my own understanding of finance but also fostered a collaborative atmosphere that benefited the entire cohort. 

Additionally, my engineering background came into play when we were tasked with analysing complex financial scenarios in a case study involving a company's capital structure in our Investment Banking Course. Drawing from my experience in dealing with multifaceted engineering problems, I guided my team in breaking down the problem into manageable components and developing a systematic approach to finding a solution. This not only enhanced our team's performance but also allowed me to showcase the transferable skills I possessed from my engineering background. 

Overall, my engineering experience enriched my Rotman journey by enabling me to apply my analytical and problem-solving abilities in a new context and contribute meaningfully to my peers' learning experiences.  

What would you say to someone considering choosing the MFin?  

I would wholeheartedly recommend the MFin program at Rotman as an excellent investment in your future. This comprehensive program offers a perfect blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application, ensuring you develop a strong foundation in finance. The well-designed curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, engaging classroom discussions, and strong alumni network all contribute to a transformative educational experience that prepares you for a successful career in the finance industry. 

Moreover, the MFin program at Rotman provides ample opportunities for networking and building professional connections, both with your peers and the wider finance community. These connections can prove invaluable as you advance in your career and navigate the competitive landscape of the financial industry. 

However, it's important to recognize that the program is both challenging and demanding. To fully benefit from the MFin, you must be prepared to invest a significant amount of time and effort to keep up with the coursework and make the most of the opportunities available. If you are dedicated and committed to your personal and professional growth, the MFin at Rotman will undoubtedly provide you with the tools and resources necessary to excel in the world of finance.  

What are your plans for the future?

As for my future plans, I aim to leverage the knowledge and skills acquired through the MFin program at Rotman to establish a successful career in the finance industry. In line with my passion for capital markets, I am eagerly looking forward to securing a rewarding position in equity or derivatives trading. My decision to transition from a highly sought-after engineering career to finance was driven by my desire to pursue this specific field, and I am excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. 

Additionally, to further enhance my professional development and marketability, I plan to pursue relevant certifications, including the CFA & CMT designation, which will complement my MFin degree and deepen my expertise in investment management and financial analysis. By continuing to invest in my education and professional growth, I am confident that I will be well-equipped to excel in the world of finance and capitalize on the dynamic opportunities it offers. 

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