Rotman students take a seat at the boardroom table
Mentorship and Leadership
Rotman Onboard is an exciting new program that matches talented upper-year MBA candidates with Toronto-based non-profit boards and charities for a 6-8 month fellowship.
For someone interested in how organizations make decisions, MBA student Tariq Nanji had a dream assignment: spend six months as a working member of the board of a top-tier non-profit.
His opportunity came last fall in his second year at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management when, in a new elective course, he and nine other MBA students were paired with local non-profits. The students received mentoring and hands-on exposure to board-level decision-making while the non-profits received strategic advice on a topic relevant to them.
“We want to bring students outside of the classroom and not just talk about leadership skills, but actually put them in the pool and show them how to swim.”
-Neel Joshi, director of student life and international experience at Rotman
Students act as non-voting members of the organizations’ boards, serve on advisory committees and complete a strategic governance project based on each organizations’ needs. Each student also gets paired with a board mentor and faculty advisor to help them along in their fellowship.
This year, Rotman students are joining the following organizations:
Second-year MBA students are screened by Rotman and interviewed by their non-profit partners.
For Mr. Nanji, his stint as a non-voting member of the board of trustees at the Centre for Mental Health and Addiction was the highlight of his final year. “Any opportunity to learn from people who are very experienced with governance would be a great opportunity and it turned out to be that way.”
For students, direct exposure to seasoned non-profit executives and top civic and business leaders is an eye-opener. “It was definitely nerve-racking walking in on the first day,” recalls Rachel Kattapuram, studying law and business at Rotman, of joining the board of SickKids Foundation. “Industry giants are on the board.”
With foundation chief operating officer Robin Cardozo as a mentor, Ms. Kattapuram wrapped up her time at SickKids with a 90-minute presentation to foundation officials on “next frontier” moves to reach multicultural donors, improve transparency of financial reporting and beef up exposure on social media.
At the National Ballet of Canada, executive director Barry Hughson had no hesitation in taking in a student. “Mentorship matters,” says the former executive director of the Boston Ballet. “It is part of our responsibility as leaders, when possible, to support the next generation of leadership.”
Read the full story in the Globe and Mail.