the end of the beginning

The last couple of months were a bit of a whirlwind from prepping for convocation and finally realizing that this experience is coming to an end.

Graduation was a special event that was perfectly fitting to close off these last three years. The opportunity to share my personal experience as valedictorian was an honour that I will not forget.

And so I will close off this blog for now (sorry yk!) As much as I would like to continue sharing with all of you, my infrequent blog posts indicate that this is one commitment that I will need to let go. Thanks to all of you for sharing this journey with me and good luck to those of you beginning your journey at Rotman.

“…now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” ~Winston Churchill

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Who, Me?


Well it looks like I have one last deliverable to complete my program 🙂 I am truly honoured to be selected by my classmates and am so thankful for a unique way to reflect back on this entire experience. As I work on preparing one of the most important speeches of my life (no pressure!) let me leave you with some inspiration from some of my favourite convocation speeches and in particular, one from this same program last year.

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Lights, Camera, Action!

Check out these fun video testimonials that my classmates and I got to do to promote the Morning & Evening MBA programs:




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Class of 2012 Highlights

I’ve had the opportunity to reconnect with a few fellow graduating students (woohoo!) recently and wanted to share a few highlights with you:

1. I already told you about OyeIndia and the Dell Social Innovation Challenge. Please vote for them if you have a chance!

2. One of my classmates, Dr. Karim S. Karim received a $100,000 grant to continue pursuing his work on a tuberculosis diagnostic. This was only one of 15 grants awarded in Canada and will allow Karim to build a prototype to test his concept. I asked Karim if he felt that the MBA program at Rotman helped him in receiving this grant and he immediately said yes without a doubt. Karim noted a couple of courses that had a particularly high impact on his work and one of those was the Integrative Thinking Practicum course, based on the foundational work of our Dean Roger Martin. Karim also noted that he appreciated the professors that were previous consultants, as they were able to share their real-life experiences in the classroom. Two of the have actually become informal mentors to Karim and have assisted him greatly in bringing his work to life. Congratulations on this exciting opportunity Karim!

3. An evening MBA 2012 student that I took an elective with last year has started his own business called Serviced At Home. It’s a great website that connects residents with trusted service providers and vice versa. As a recent first time home owner, I can appreciate this type of business as finding good, qualified, trustworthy service professionals can be very difficult. The internet allows for a wider marketplace for services but the barriers to entry are also much lower which can allow for many unqualified providers to falsely advertise. If you are a resident looking for help with work to be done or a service provider, please be sure to check out his website. It is inspiring to see some of our classmates leave their full time jobs and become entrepreneurs near the end of this program.

4. And speaking of entrepreneurs, two of my classmates have gotten together and formed their own consulting company focused on business design thinking, another foundational concept from our dean. Blue Guru Consulting is still in the early stages of development but they are sure to provide unique integrative design concepts for many business problems.

I can’t wait to see what else is in store for our class as we near graduation and move on to the next leg of the journey in our lives.

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Pitch for Change: Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard

On February 26, I had the privilege of of attending the 2012 Social Enterprise Conference at Harvard to support our very own Rotman Morning MBA 2012 team as semi-finalists in the Pitch for Change competition.

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The Pitch for Change competition is a business plan competition that is focused on an “elevator pitch” for a new social enterprise venture. OyeIndia, our Rotman team, was selected as a semi-finalist and invited to compete at the conference.

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It was an intense competition and although they did not advance to the next round, they received a lot of valuable feedback and we all learned a lot from watching the other pitches.

Even though we were sleep deprived and slightly more than exhausted, it was really a great opportunity to network with the other finalists, panel judges and organizers. I personally was able to connect with others from many different areas of North America all focused on social enterprise. It was inspiring to watch the other pitches and see how far several of the finalists had taken their concepts. As Dorothy Engelman noted in her recent Entrepreneurship 101 session at MaRsDD: “the idea is not the big idea, execution is the big idea”. I was impressed at how well the other competitors could execute on their ideas.

I was also impressed with how supportive Rotman is in encouraging students to not only compete in various competitions but attend conferences during their time at the school. I was so pleased to find out that they take an active interest in supporting students to travel and attend events outside of Rotman to promote the school but also learn from others and have that be a part of our educational experience.

My advice to others who are attending conferences and/or participating in competitions: take full advantage of the opportunity and make every effort to attend the workshops and speakers that you are interested in and connect with those around you. No matter how tired you may be (and you will be!), you can always learn something. Don’t feel forced to attend the events that you think you “should” attend; go to the ones that you want to. Passion for social enterprise was very high at the conference and the competition which is a huge factor in any successful execution.

And don’t worry, you can still support OyeIndia through the Dell Social Innovation Challenge! Their concept is working with directly with artisans, to empower them to turn their talents into a sustainable business and allow their children to attend school.

Great job Avi, Bike & Kyle!

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Oh and have I mentioned how beautiful the Harvard campus is?

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50 Most Innovative Companies

Love this Top 50 list by Fast Company on the world’s 50 Most Innovative Companies. What I find most intriguing is that all of them are so different and unique. There is no recipe or formula for innovation. Sometimes I think we spend too much time trying to define innovation or figure it out then actually innovating. Which company on this list is your favourite?

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Congratulations to Ivan & Wattpad!

I am SO proud to report that Wattpad, created by one of my very own classmates, was just announced as one of Canada’s Top 20 Most Innovate Companies!

Congratulations to Ivan for helping to create this amazing app. Love that our class is so diverse – it really creates for an engaging discussion to bring in all these different perspectives. And don’t forget to download the Wattpad app to your device!

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