Paolo Delano was drawn to Canada as a peaceful land of opportunity.
Nikhil Mathai was looking for the right school.
Mehran Redjvani came here so his fiancée could be closer to her family.
About half of all MBA students in Canada are international students. Whatever brings them to this country, one thing is certain: An MBA program is an expensive endeavour. Fees for international students can run as much as $80,000, compared to $65,000 for their Canadian counterparts.
Add in living expenses and the tab can easily reach $100,000 for a one- or two-year program.
That’s a lot of rupees. Just ask 26-year-old Siddharth Samarth.
“It’s probably about five times the salary I would earn in a year over there,” said Samarth, from India, who worked at a bank in Pune, India, for about four years after completing his engineering degree.
“Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve spent that much money in my entire life.”
After seeing businesses in a developing economy, he decided he wanted some perspective on how business is done in the West.
“I had a good job in India, a very comfortable life, but if you want to play the game at another level, then you need to be able to move yourself out of that comfort zone,” Samarth said. “You need to be able to take that calculated risk. Some people would not have the stomach for it.”
He is finishing his MBA at the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.
Samarth has accepted a job with CIBC’s risk management group and will be starting in August. He hopes to be able to pay off his student loans in three or four years.
Nikhil Mathai was just looking for the right school. He wasn’t picky about the country. The 26-year-old mechanical engineer from India was willing to go anywhere.
He selected the one-year program at Queen’s School of Business at Queen’s University because of small class sizes.
“Everyone in the office knows your name,” he said. “There’s a level of personal care here that I didn’t really expect.”
Mani Venkatakrishnaprasad, born in India and raised in Singapore, has an engineering degree. He came to Canada looking for opportunity.
What drew him to the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto was the school’s emphasis on integrative thinking. This leadership model developed by Rotman’s dean, Roger Martin, focuses on using opposing ideas to come up with a new idea that contains elements of each but is superior to both.
“At Rotman, each course builds on another,” Venkatakrishaprasad said. “It means viewing a problem as a business problem, just not a strategy problem or an economics problem.”
The focus on integrative thinking also drew classmate Paolo Delano from Mexico.
“It was something I had never seen before,” he said. “When I compared it to other business schools, it seemed more modern. I wanted something that would give me an advantage once I was done.”
Mehran Redjvani of Sydney, Australia, came to Canada so his fiancée could be closer to her family, but he figures Canada is the perfect place to start his own home health-care company.
He had never heard of the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. But the more he learned, the more he liked the idea of the one-year program and the strength of the alumni network. He has been impressed by the steady stream of alumni, many of whom are directors of big corporations, or who have started their own companies.
“At first, I wondered, ‘How important is this alumni network?’ but since I’ve been here I’ve met so many people. Being taught by people like this and having access to them afterwards has been completely invaluable for me.”
As a recent immigrant from India, Manju Rose likes the idea of being able to tap into Ivey’s alumni network. “Being new to the country, that was selfishly one of the things I was looking for,” she said. “Getting an MBA from a good school is one way of tapping into a huge resource. It would take many years in a country to make all the contacts that a year at Ivey could get you.”