Monday, September 26, 2011

The past couple of weeks…

My life for the past two weeks has been non-stop school! I don’t think I can go into a ton of detail on EVERYTHING that has happened, so here are some of the highlights.

Quizzes galore! I guess this isn’t really a highlight, but it’s still significant. We had two quizzes in Managerial Economics and one in Accounting. Even though these quizzes are worth a small part of our final mark (no more than 10%), the first-years were studying hard.

The RFA invited two speakers from their speakers series. Last week, Som Seif, the President and CEO of Claymore Inc. came in to speak to us about his experiences in the finance industry. I found his talk very inspiring and enlightening. Some of his words of wisdom include: “Never let money be a factor in whether you accept a job or not,” and “You’re all smart; the thing that is going to get you noticed, though, is your capacity and willingness to learn new things and your ability to work hard.” I hope the rest of the speakers that the RFA has scheduled to come to Rotman are as good as Som.

And today, the speaker was Professor Heather-Anne Irwin, a Rotman professor of finance for second-year courses. She has worked in the capital markets industry for 16 years in a variety of roles. She gave us a very good outline of how the capital markets industry works and detailed what you might be expected to do if you worked as an investment banker, research analyst, portfolio manager and trader. I would say a very helpful session, especially for those attendees who may not be familiar with the finance industry.

WIMA also had their kickoff meeting. They discussed the kinds of events that we can expect over the year, and the Associate Dean of the Executive Degree Programs, Beatrix Dart, spoke to us about “Power Tools for Women.” I am really looking forward to some of the events this club has to offer. I am especially grateful that when they have networking events, the ratio of industry representatives to Rotman students is among the best for all the club networking events.

That’s about it for now. The first-year students are required to read and write a paper on the book “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis (paper due Sunday night) so I really need to get this book finished! Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week 1, clubs fair and more!

We are well into our second week of class.

In order to explain to my friends (namely the engineers) just how busy things have gotten already, I often compare my schedule and study hours to that time period between midterms and final exams in your undergrad degree when you are on campus from 8:30am until 11:00pm or later and you only go home to sleep and maybe eat. Except since I live more than a 10 minute walk away from campus, I never go home to eat anymore. 

I am loving it though!

I am continuing to enjoy my classes, but some have taken me by surprise. In particular, “Statistics for Managers” isn’t just learning about the mean, standard deviation, variance and how to conduct a t-test. We are learning how to design statistical studies so that when we are managers in the future, we can make important decisions such as “Is this dog food commercial effective enough for us to air it?” (The Rotmanites will appreciate the shout-out to dog food.)

Someone finally explained to me what Foundations of Integrative Thinking is all about. In a nutshell, the course is supposed to teach you how to make decisions. Each class is dedicated to teaching us a new model or method for making decisions effectively. The course is notorious for its heavy amount of reading, but I am finding the readings quite interesting, so it doesn’t bother me too much.

Last night was the clubs fair in the Rotman atrium. For 3 hours, the first- and second-year Rotman students perused the various tables set up for each club to learn more about what each club offers its members. The clubs range from industry clubs (such as the Rotman Finance Association and the Rotman Management Consulting Association) to culture clubs (such as the Latin American Business Club and the Rotman South Asian Business Association) to social club (such as the Rotman Dance Club and various intramural sports teams. I opted to sign up for the Rotman Finance Association (RFA), the Women in Management Association (WIMA), the Rotman Wine Society (RWS), the Rotman Ambassadors, the MBA Games and co-ed intramural volleyball. I am looking forward to spending some time on activities other than schoolwork, even though I know it is going to make me even more busy!

And finally, on a note unrelated to school, I also wanted to announce that this past weekend, my mom and I participated in the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers, which is a 60 km walk over two days around Toronto. A total of 4,013 walkers raised $9.4 million for the Campbell Family Cancer Research Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital. Despite some aches and pains and a few blisters, the weekend went extremely well! Here is a picture of my mom and I at the finish line at the end of the second day of walking.

Stay tuned for more updates!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Back to school, back to school...

It seems like this was all everyone was saying today, in that familiar Adam Sandler sing-song voice…

Yes, today was the first day of school!

But before I get into today’s details, I should talk a little bit about the orientation events that took place over the past week or so.

The official Rotman orientation events began on Wednesday, with two full days of: learning about the kinds of problems MBA students are expected to solve; listening to members of the GBC speak about events, clubs and Rotman activities we can look forward to; and probably most importantly, meeting our fellow group members for the first two quarters of classes. These are the groups we will be spending most of our time with working on projects, assignments and presentations, so I was happy to finally meet them.

After our two-day on campus orientation, we spent the weekend in Haliburton, Ontario for a weekend of camping and team-bonding. Approximately 300 first- and second-year students from the full-time and part-time MBA programs spent two and a half days making friends with each other. For me personally, some of the most memorable activities included:

  • The Trading Game: I don’t want to ruin it for anyone, but if you don’t know what it’s like to be in a trading pit, you will once you experience The Trading Game… Sort of…
  • The costume party: The theme of the costume party was “When I grow up”, and everyone had to dress up as something you wanted to be when you were a little kid.
  • Late night bonfires.
  • Beach volleyball during free time: It seems like the Rotman Class of 2013 has some pretty talented volleyball players among us!
  • And of course, laughing until my sides hurt.

As sad as I was to leave camp though, I was extremely excited for my first day of classes. Today started out with Foundations of Integrative Thinking. To be honest, I am still not entirely sure what the course is all about, but I hope to have a rock solid idea by the time the final exam rolls around. We had to read and be prepared to discuss four different readings of varying lengths in case our professor, Professor Womack, cold-called us with a question. Apparently, Rotman professors LOVE doing that!

I also had my first classes in Statistics for Managers and Financial Accounting. Even though I have studied statistics and accounting in the past, it has never been presented to me the way these professors presented the material, so I am definitely counting on learning something new in these two classes.

My calendar is quickly filling up with Rotman activities left, right and centre, so there will surely be more to share with you very soon. Stay tuned!