Classmate Spotlight: Avi

I’ve posted about my classmate Avi before (and here and here) but it’s about time he gets a whole post to himself!

When I first met Avi, he was campaigning for the position of Class Rep. This is a big job as he (along with one other rep) is responsible for (from the official class rep guide):

  1. acting as a conduit from our class to the administration and faculty
  2. represent our class for the GBC (Graduate Business Council)
  3. communicate to our class on behalf of the PSO (Program Services Office) and GBC

This can be a particularly demanding job as the Morning MBA program is still growing so student feedback is critical to the continual improvement. Avi and our other class rep Vladia worked hard to ensure that tutorials were scheduled during times that were convenient (thank you Survey Monkey!) and that deliverables for our various core courses were not all due at the same time (but sometimes that’s not always possible!)

In addition to his normal class rep duties, Avi has also used his many talents to conduct a class photo shoot and even design our very own class t-shirts! Check out the design options below and a photo of the final product (all designs property of

Concept 1


Concept 2

Concept 3

Concept 4


Concept 5

Class T-shirts in Action

Class Picnic

As you can see, Avi has been an integral part of the Morning MBA experience! He is also the director of design workshops for Rotman’s Business Design Club, part of the winning team for the 2010 Business Design Club competition and a finalist in the 2010 RBC Great Innovator challenge. How he finds time to actually do his MBA and work full-time beats me 🙂

You can find out more about Avi on his website and in the Globe & Mail article. Thanks Avi for being such a great member of the Morning MBA 2012 cohort!



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Corporate Head Shots at Rotman

Michael Scott

We all know how important it is to have a good head shot for social network sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and of course, the Rotman photo directory! I’m so glad that the Rotman Photography Association offered faculty, staff and students the opportunity to get a corporate headshot for $5. This is an amazing price and the photography association has some very good budding photographers as members. I love how the various clubs at Rotman provide such great offers. The shoot took place on Friday and I was impressed with how professional everything was from the equipment to the photographer setting up the shot. I can’t wait to see how mine turns out!

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The Value of an MBA


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LEAN Startup: Eric Ries at Rotman

So you know how much I love all the speakers events at Rotman and Eric Ries was one of the first of this new school year! Unfortunately, I was unable to attend but thankfully it was recorded and posted online.

A few thoughts:

  • the LEAN concept (think Toyota LEAN production) has been a hot topic in my classes especially Operations Management, Integrative Thinking Practicum and my Service Operations elective. I just read an HBR article about applying the concept to consumption as well as production.
  • Eric really challenges the concept of “the customer is always right”. This is a great linkage to human-centered design or business design that Rotman is well known for (and I am also quite intrigued with)
  • Eric is very open and honest with the fact that being an entrepreneur is hard and entrepreneurship is often associated with many failures. Maybe this is why I don’t want to be an entrepreneur?


UPDATE: read more about Eric Ries & LEAN startup on Rypple’s blog

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GUEST POST: Entrepreneurship and the MBA

Button for blogI’ve introduced you to her before, but I’m excited to have the Beauty Nerd herself be a guest blogger to share her experiences as an entrepreneur in the part-time MBA program. She has helped me out before with great advice and now she is sharing her own advice on starting her own business and the decision to be a Rotman Morning MBA student! It has truly been a pleasure to see Connie’s business grow throughout the program (and she just celebrated her one year blogaversary!) She has really taken advantage of what she has learned and applied it to her company.

Since I’m not an entrepreneur, I am really glad to have Connie join us and give us her perspective. And for those of you interested in entrepreneurship, Rotman offers several courses, clubs and resources in this area. I also highly recommend the Entrepreneur’s Toolkit from Mars Discovery District and The Next 36 program, both closely linked to Rotman. I hope that you find Connie’s sharing helpful and don’t forget to check out her site!

Why hello there! I’m so honoured that Karina has asked me to write a guest post on her blog. I thought it would be nice to share with you today, my experiences in the part-time MBA program thus far.

Just to give you a little background about myself, I have a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, which was a deliberate and strategic choice to get myself into the cosmetics industry. Then, I made more drastic moves to pursue my dreams by moving to New York, attending the Fashion Institute of Technology, and eventually working for Bliss Spa where I developed skincare and bath & body products. When my husband found a job in Toronto, we had to move back to Canada and I began thinking more seriously about pursuing my next dream – starting my own skincare company. I must admit, doing an MBA was never part of my master plan. I was eager to start my company right away, and I didn’t want to wait for another two years to begin. Also, I couldn’t ignore all the critiques I heard about MBA programs (not Rotman’s specifically, but just MBAs in general) and questioned whether there was true value in doing an MBA. I thought to myself, so many entrepreneurs do not have those 3 letters behind their name, so was it really necessary? Was the hefty tuition, which could have been used to fund my startup (yes, I know – quite the opportunity cost), worth it?

After months of tormenting myself, I finally decided that I would pursue my MBA after all. Because my training was predominantly in science, I knew I had much more to learn about business. And boy, did I ever turn out to be right. Like Karina, I decided to enroll in the part-time program. Doing so, gave me the best of both worlds. I was able to start working on my company right away while learning all the basic tools I would need to succeed in business. It has been two years now, and I have enjoyed my journey tremendously. Not only have I been able to apply what I have learned in class directly to my business, but also I have met wonderful, wonderful people who have helped me along the way. My classmates have always been there for me in times of crisis – either giving me great advice from their own experiences or introducing me to their contacts that could help me out. I have met amazing professors, who are genuinely passionate about what they teach. I cannot stress how valuable it is to have access to brilliant business minds at your fingertips for advice and mentorship. Now, I like to view my MBA tuition as one big consulting fee. 🙂


I know I am a bit of an anomaly – doing my MBA while starting a business at the same time. But I hope that this will inspire some of you entrepreneur-hopefuls to follow the same path. Building a business is hard. Really hard. But I believe it has been less hard because I have been granted access to some of the best professors, and talented classmates, many of who have also become great friends. I really wouldn’t have it any other way.

UPDATED: Check out my own beauty essentials for busy MBA students over at Connie’s blog.



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Target and Innovation

It’s almost a guarantee that you will study Wal-Mart at some point during your MBA program no matter what school you are studying at. And while it is truly amazing the affect that Wal-Mart has had on many aspects of our economy (global and local), it does get a bit redundant studying the behemoth all the time.

That’s part of the reason why I am so happy that Target is coming to Canada (that and I’m an avid “Tar-gey” consumer!) It will certainly add a different point of view to the in-class Wal-Mart discussions especially with respect to the Canadian economy.

CNBC recently did a special on Target and it was good to get a glimpse into their history and operations. What I especially loved was how their focus on philanthropic values, led them to innovative solutions. The first one was hiring Michael Graves to design unique scaffolding during the Washington Monument restoration project. Not only was this a unique approach to scaffolding, it also led them to in-house designer products with Graves which soon became a key part of their competitive advantage. The special also talks about how Target redesigned their medicine bottles for their in-house pharmacy to help education customers on how to take the medicine properly and assist families with better medicine identification.

And speaking of healthcare innovation, I’ve also included a TED Talk about making medical test results easier to read.

I think both of these stories are yet more examples of how integrative thinking and business design lead to innovation. Enjoy!







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Design Thinking on Failure & Reliability

“...managers have to court failure if they are going to solve mysteries…”

Check out the videos below to hear Dean Roger Martin talk about Design Thinking and Integrative Thinking – two things that Rotman is becoming very well known for. They are both elusive concepts and, to be honest, even as students we don’t “get” them all the time. But they are both focused on a certain way of thinking and we definitely do a lot of thinking at Rotman!

Roger talks about how design thinking has been used successfully at companies such as McDonald’s, RIM, Cirque du Soleil and Proctor & Gamble. He says that other schools focus on analyzing business. This is not only overrated but dangerous b/c it only takes into account things that you can measure quantitatively without any kind of bias/judgement involved. It excludes things outside that inherently matter.

Design Thinking also spurs on innovation. One of the biggest obstacles to innovation is reliability. This affects internal corporate departments the most. These departments, such as HR, Finance, etc. are focused on being reliable because there is no internal competition. Since I work in HR currently, this is definitely a concept that I have constantly been bringing back to work during my time here at Rotman. How can we, as an internal department, remain competitive so to speak to ensure that we are always supporting the organization’s strategy? Roger also talks about how organizations focus on having reliable share prices each quarter but this inhibits innovation. Analysts will beat up companies if their share price falls so there is little motivation for a company to innovate.

Roger offers this advice if you want to become a Design Thinker – do two things every week:

1. deepen your mastery;

2. nurture your originality (did i try something i haven’t tried before?)

Oh and check out DesignWorks!


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