After working in private equity and trading for a number of years, Sarah Wang, MFin ’22, was looking for a graduate program that would help her stay on top of current trends and emerging technologies in finance, and support her leadership development.
Sarah, who is a trader at Questrade, one of Canada’s leading online brokerages, had been away from Toronto for a few years. She was also hoping to build her professional network in Toronto.
She knew she was in the right place when she started her Master of Finance (MFin) program at Rotman last September.
Recently, we caught up with Sarah on what brought her to the MFin, why investing in women in finance is important (and how Rotman is getting it right!), and how she’s balancing work, the MFin and studying for the CFA.
Why she chose the MFin at Rotman, and how she’s applying what she learned at work
As a trader, Sarah dedicates her time executing transactions on behalf of clients, serving as a subject matter expert on her assigned products, and facilitating process improvement initiatives to achieve business goals. Before this, she was a business analyst at Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets based in Beijing and Hong Kong, where she was mainly responsible for analyzing regional private equity investment opportunities and monitoring existing portfolios.
Even with her considerable experience and training, she knew there might be gaps in her knowledge.
“Working in an investment and fintech firm, I am keen to learn more about the innovations that are rapidly changing our industry today. I chose Rotman for its expertise in fintech innovation, networking opportunities, and location.”
Sarah started her career working in the fundamental side of finance, building DCF models. She’s currently honing her data analysis and Python programming skills.
“Rotman’s curriculum has helped me grasp technical skills that I’m actively developing now and guided me in applying them to real business questions extensively.”
Aside from the focus on technical topics, Sarah also appreciates the soft skills emphasized in the program.
“So far, I have participated in more than a dozen virtual events organized by Rotman. Being able to communicate effectively in a virtual environment is definitely a new skill in demand in every industry. I apply this skill to my job every day.”
Becoming a future leader who can speak about finance and technology
Sarah was also drawn to the MFin program’s commitment to investing in women working in finance and helping them reach their leadership potential. Each year, the program gives out several Women in Finance entrance awards to high-performing women starting the program. And this year’s incoming class -- the MFin Class of 2022 -- is 46% female.
“Women are traditionally underrepresented in my industry, and this is a problem.,” says Sarah, who recognizes the significance of supporting women in their professional development.
“I am working towards becoming a female leader who speaks the finance and technology language. In the near future, I want to become an industry leader who is comfortable speaking with all participants in our industry, from our clients to portfolio managers to desk quants, to tackle the challenges our industry is facing today and tomorrow, she says.
“This program is helping me level up my leadership and team management skills and paving my road to joining the next generation of female leaders in finance.”
This support extends beyond the School’s walls.
“Rotman has such a strong alumni base in Toronto and every one of them is genuinely willing to help the students grow and make the finance industry a more diverse and inclusive place.”
MFin, MBA or CFA — why not all three?
Prior to joining Rotman, Sarah has already earned an MBA from Georgetown University. Many might have wondered why a finance professional as qualified as Sarah was pursuing another degree.
Simply put, the MFin was the right degree to go for in this stage in her career.
“During the MBA, I was still exploring future career paths, and that program helped me determine that finance is what I want to do,” she explains
“Now that I am a finance working professional who is looking to further advance my career in the industry, working towards an MFin degree is a no-brainer.”
As if balancing a demanding job in finance and the MFin wasn’t enough, Sarah is also studying for the CFA exam right now.
”The two programs definitely complement each other. The CFA program sets a strong technical foundation, and the MFin curriculum helps us tie the theoretical knowledge gained during CFA to the practical experience of your faculty and peers in a Canadian context,” she says.
“For example, Professor Fotini Tolias is an ex-banker who teaches the Fixed Income course. She taught me all the tricks, industry conventions and folk knowledge about the Canadian fixed income market. There’s no better way to learn this than from someone who has experienced it.”
We’ll stop here for now! Read part 2 of our conversation with Sarah, where she shares her thoughts on pursuing a degree during a global pandemic, making connections with classmates beyond the classroom and her advice to those interested in applying to the MFin.
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