Following our “Hacking the MBA Applications” series, we are starting a new series of articles with interviews of admission directors from the top MBA programs, to help you get to know the top MBA programs and provide some MBA admission tips. Today we start Leigh Gauthier, Acting Director Recruitment & Admissions, Full-Time MBA at the University of Toronto – Rotman School of Management.

What is special about the Rotman MBA? What differentiates it from other Top MBA programs?

I would say that besides being located in a great country (Canada) open to having young professionals stay post grad (3 year work permit offered) and one of the world’s most livable cities (Toronto) according to the UN, I’d say Rotman has some unique programs that you can’t get elsewhere. What differentiates Rotman from other B-schools is our approach to Leadership Development, how young professionals  can learn to build something massive by participating in the Creative Destruction Lab, and how students can customize their experience with our Flexible Internship Options and the companies hiring at Rotman.

Any recent changes in the Toronto MBA programs or in the MBA admission process?

The Admissions process is always evolving as our students do, and as do the requests of our corporate partners who work closely with us on our strategy to bring in future top talent from around the world. Rotman is most notable for being the first school to introduce video essays into the equation, an innovation that had top schools globally following suit. You can expect more innovation from Rotman in the admissions process in the future. A most recent change to the program is that students can now start their electives at the end of the first year. Rotman is a 20-month program designed to take our students to the next level in their leadership journey and equip them for the challenges ahead. This change in the core structure allows students to be even more ready to tackle the functional challenges they might encounter during their internship period.

Can you share some details about the atmosphere in the Rotman school?

The vibe at Rotman can only be described as ‘crazy good’. The urban dictionary says “crazy good is the feelings following an enlightenment; typically in creative work (elevation of work of art, idea, ability, level of happiness), where one is playing with and extending further. As the paradigm has shifted, others may express the genuine feeling you have actually gone crazy, however the opposite could be true and the path to awesomeness is being cemented.” There is so much opportunity at Rotman to push your personal boundaries and to find out who you are and what you want out of life, and how you will add value to society through your work. You’ll meet friends that become family and last a life time. You’ll create and be created all at the same time –it’s truly a crazy good experience.

Can you share some details about Toronto?

A picture is worth a thousand words and this video entitled “The Views are Different Here” is probably the best way to showcase our great city.

What kind of candidates is the Rotman school looking for its MBA program?

We assess candidates across four dimensions and I share a description of each of them here and some food for thought as applicants put forth their applications:

Impact

Not everyone has the opportunity to save a company thousands, or bring in a multi-million dollar contracts and an early age – but does your resume accurately reflect what you’ve done? How has the company improved as a result of you being there? A laundry list of tasks at an organization, even if it is a recognizable brand, will not an impressive resume make. Spend time to reflect and detail on what you personally have accomplished, and demonstrate your value-add. Lots left on the table here by many applicants.

Presence

Every interaction is an opportunity to confirm or change the recruiter’s opinion of a candidate. The assessment does not end at the interview. Remember that the scholarship decision is a result of the sum of the parts, and not just the formal interview. In the Self Development Lab we recognize that content is key to be credible. Yet if you do not pay attention to how you are making others feel, or how you are coming across, or your ‘presence’ – when delivering said “content” you won’t get past initial screen.

Spike Factor

What’s the pop? Any one of us can accomplish tremendous academic or workplace feats if that is all we do. The problem is that it leaves our experiences one-sided and quite frankly boring. What have you attempted or accomplished outside of work or academics that is another indicator of your future success (note epic failures count too if there is a good lesson learned). How will this signal to a recruiter or future employer some of your key characteristics? What are the things that you have done in your life that demonstrate Passion? Grit? Resilience? Innovation? Drive? Ambition? This crosses all aspects of life – hobbies, volunteerism, awards, entrepreneurial ventures, and sports.

Intellectual Horsepower

While most students can’t go back and upgrade their GPA students should seriously consider if their GMAT score (and component scores) are a true reflection of their ability. If not, consider taking it again. A higher score does not necessarily equal an automatic bump, but don’t put a score forward when you know it could be better with effort and focus thinking that it is good enough. If it is your best effort then great – it’s not the only way we measure intellect. Consider, is there something that you’ve done that could demonstrate your cognitive abilities? – make sure it’s in your resume, essay, or interview answers.

Is there anything you’d like our candidates to know regarding the admissions process? final admission tips?

We are a high touch Recruitment and Admissions Team. We like to get to know our candidates before they even apply. I hope that any student serious about Rotman will reach out and book a pre-application meeting with me or one of our team as part of their due diligence process. We have 350 students from around the world with over 50 passports represented. It’s a great mix of cultures, experiences, and ethnicities where everyone brings something unique to the table.