The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management is one of the best B-schools in Canada. Under Dean Roger Martin, the school carved out a reputation as one of the most innovative players in management education in the world. That has happened largely due to the confluence of three big decisions.
1) A focus on “integrative thinking” which is a core theme throughout the MBA curriculum. It’s the ability to assess and balance conflicting ideas, business models or strategies. As a partner at the consulting firm Monitor, Martin identified a pattern of problem-solving among his business clients that can be learned and developed. Rather than looking at what leaders did, he looked at how leaders thought.
2) Teaching “business design,” using commonly deployed design principles to jumpstart innovation in business settings. These are elective courses but are among the more creative offerings in any business school.
3) Intense personal development. Though nongraded and voluntary, a student participating in all the labs can get up to 60 hours of personal development work.
Several business schools assign MBA students coaches to help them with career planning decisions, but Rotman may well have the most far-reaching personal development initiative of any full-time MBA program in the world.
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ROTMAN MBA SAMPLE WINNING ESSAYS
Rotman Essay 1: Discuss your personal and professional development over the past five years and describe how these changes have led you to choose to do your MBA at this time. What are your career goals and how will a Rotman MBA help you to achieve them?
Upon graduating from Mumbai University, I joined our family business – ABC Automotive Limited – in the CEO’s office. Initially, as part of the CEO’s office, I was responsible for manufacturing, planning, and strategy formulation. As part of the strategy team, I gained deep-dive insights into all the functional aspects of the business – Manufacturing, Sales & Marketing, Quality, Finance, and Supply Chain. I have also led Productivity and Quality Improvement Program named Theory of Constraints (TOC) which was aimed at maximizing company’s profits. These last two years have been a phenomenal learning experience and have enabled me to acquire critical insights on managing organizational change management program and also about the manufacturing industry in India.
On the personal front, I have evolved as an individual who wants to grow her business by building communities and encouraging inclusive growth. In my view emerging markets like India can only grow if fruits of economic growth reach all the strata of society and women constitute a major chunk of that. In my experience and observation not many women are motivated enough to enter the workforce in non-conventional industries. Today owing to my continuous and persistent efforts we have been able to slowly induct women into our workforce and I can proudly say that, women constitute about 8% of the workforce and still increasing as I write this essay.
I plan to take leadership role in my family business and boost up our company’s scale of operations in the coming years. This includes both expansion and diversification. In the next five years I plan to leverage the superior manufacturing capabilities and product lines of ABC and hope to transform ABC to a $100 Million. In the short span I envisage to employ a two pronged strategy to improve our market share – One through expansion of our target markets and two by expanding the current product line. My focus will also be directed towards increasing margins through significant forward and backward integration.
I, therefore, believe that for my future aspirations a MBA at this stage will help me develop leadership and strategic skills necessary for growth story of my company. An MBA will enable me to complement my existing leadership, initiative taking abilities with deep dive management perspectives to evolve as a credible family business executive. Also as an entrepreneur I will be required to adapt to ever changing markets and display superior problem solving skills. I believe in this context Rotman’s “Integrative Thinking” and “Business Design” model will give me the essential skills and abilities. I will also leverage the opportunities provided by the “ Creative Destruction Lab” at Rotman and also look to share my experiences and build upon my business plan at the Entrepreneurship club at Rotman.
Rotman Essay 2: One of the Rotman School’s underlying principles is the value of one; this reflects the belief that each member of the Rotman community has unique needs and talents. What are your greatest talents and/or abilities and how would each enhance the experience of your classmates?
I have worked for two years in a non-conventional industry which is generally male dominated. Surviving in this environment required me to persistently convince people about the approach I took to tackle the challenges. I also bring with me unique perspectives of business, strategy and innovation from a competitive and varying market. To thrive in this market requires constant innovation and thus I have led various improvement programs to increase profitability of my company. I bring this unique perspective of heralding innovation in traditional industry and also leading organizational wide transformative initiatives
I have had the experience to work with different people in diverse situations which gave me the understanding of different viewpoints. I have had the viewpoint of working with people on a shop-floor to working on strategy formulation with top management. I do believe that my ability to bring about multiple perspectives of the same issue to the table will be very helpful during classroom discussions. Apart from this working on organizational wide initiatives has given me a strong exposure to various disciples of the business like supply chain, marketing, production, finance and operations. I can bring about this multi-disciplinary experience to the table and provide organizational view points to certain business issues being discussed in the class. I am also excited to share my perspectives of running a family business with my fellow classmates who come from the same background.
Rotman Essay 3 : Imagine that ten years from now a colleague is describing you to a new employee. What will s/he say about you that you are not known for now? How will you achieve these new skills?
My colleague will describe me as an “Emerging Women Entrepreneur who transformed ABC into a world-class company. Besides achieving her goal she also used her business acumen to contribute to the society. On a personal level, she is a refined painter and now work for the cause of women up-liftment and expresses her views through various forms of art .”
Utilizing my current knowledge and skills coupled with post MBA experience I plan to expand the r market share of our family business by spreading out into target markets. Generally, the auto-ancillary industry carries thin profit margins but I intend to break the path through innovative solution related to product, pricing, delivery, technology etc. and overhauling existing cost systems. Rather than trying to outperform our rivals to grab a greater share of product demand I want to create demand in unknown market space for example international replacement market. I am also passionate about establishing a brand called ABC worldwide. I will be known for ushering innovation on this market and unprecedented forward and backward integration leading to sustainable competitive advantage and ABC emerging as the unrivalled low cost manufacturer of high quality gear sub-systems for automotives across the world.
I will acquire analytical skills through Rotman’s “Business Design” and innovative approach through “Integrative thinking”. Through my involvement in “Women in Management Association” I will be able to build strong network and understand the various perspectives required to bring in a holistic working environment for women.
Rotman Essay 4 : Describe a professional experience when you did not live up to your full potential. What would you do differently if you had to do it again?
As part of the strategy formulation exercise, I introduced and implemented new productivity improvement program named Theory of Constraints (TOC) which was aimed to improve throughput per unit (i.e. cost reduction per unit). We improved our On- Time deliveries from 50 % to 90 % on a month-to-month basis over a period of time. We even started getting better vendor ratings. With the improvements brought in Production Planning and Production Control we were able to reduce our inventories and thus free up necessary working capital to run other parts of the businesses.
Even after relentless efforts put in by me and my team, we could not achieve the desired levels of throughput. At the beginning, this initiative was fraught with many challenges; I encountered varying degrees of resistance from across the organization. I took this not only as a professional failure but as a personal setback too as I had a lot on stake and I had to reclaim my father’s confidence in feasibility of introduction of new concepts of productivity improvement which he resisted earlier. Throughput was a critical parameter and our competitiveness was solely dependent on achieving success here.
I learnt that variable costs were the clear culprits in this case driven by increased rates of in-house and customer-rejections. increasing operational expenditure was denting profit margins. I learnt a very critical lesion that, it is very important to have multiple reference points in an organization and was important to have buy-in from all quarters of the business in-order to achieve success.
ROTMAN MBA APPLICATION ESSAY TIPS
The University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business is one of the leading business schools in Canada. Known for its design approach to MBA education and strong emphasis on problem solving, Rotman’s program has grown in renown.
This year Rotman is all about Spike Factor, asking you to upload 1-3 of your “spikiest” pictures and select 1,000 words to explain why you chose these pictures. This year’s essay should be fun to answer, providing you with a creative way to show Rotman what makes you a unique and valuable addition to their community.
Please upload 1-3 of your ‘spikiest’ pictures to the supplemental items section of your application here and use the space below to tell us why you have chosen these particular images to illustrate your ‘spike factor’. (up to 1000 words)
• Think about your key strengths and accomplishments and select photos that show this in an engaging way. “Spike factor” allows you to highlight your resilience, grit and determination in setting and reaching ambitious goals.
• You might also think of this like “the Tokyo test”—something I have heard recruiters mention. Is this person interesting enough that I’d be happy sitting next to them on a flight to Tokyo? Make sure you share something interesting—and this can expand beyond work to interesting hobbies, sports accomplishments, businesses that you have started, charities you’ve founded or supported etc.
• Consider organizing your answer around a few key themes with photos that support each one.
• Organically weave your career goals around the picture(s) you upload—ideally one of those photos may help inform what you’d like to do after Rotman.
• Think not just about what you can get from Rotman but also how you will be able to bring value to the Rotman community through the photos and explanations you share.
• It may help to use a CAR (Challenge/Action/Result) model as you provide support for the examples you share.
• Presence and communication are valued by Rotman in the admissions process as it is stated right in the introduction; be sure to upload a visually appealing and well written submission. Edit, proofread and pay attention to detail.
Essay 2 –
Reflection Question: List 3-5 attributes or characteristics that best describe you.
With these scant words, you should both reinforce your main application and essay message(s) and, also, add a little something extra and new – but that doesn’t contradict those other points. So, if your main message revolves around excellent soft skills and persuasion, look for another complementary point, e.g., risk-taker, that may not be emphasized but that is still reflective of you – and that will also be consistent with your profile and application even if not the most prominent point.
Video Essay –
Required video interview (2 questions) with a new timed written response component (10 minutes in length).
Without knowing what the questions are, your best approach is to approach the video interview with both your own application and the Rotman program fresh in your mind. This will help you to simultaneously avoid both (a) being redundant and (b) being contradictory or inconsistent. This written response is new this year. I suggest viewing and approaching it as a continuation of the dialogue. It presents special challenges, particularly for non-native English speakers and writers who may typically take more time to polish their writing in English. While it’s natural for a follow-up piece like this essay to be less polished and thought through than essays on which you reasonably spend much more time, it also shouldn’t sound like a different person or present such a gap in English writing fluency that it raises doubts in the adcom. If you are worried about these things – practice. Give yourself sample topics and a 5-10 minute response window. Use tough questions, to make the actual one (hopefully) seem easier! (NOTE: The Rotman website gives an example – not an actual sample – question).