By the time Captain Scott Savage signed up for the Rotman School of Management he was already a strategic thinker and up for almost any challenge thrown his way.
Savage, who has toured with the Canadian military in Afghanistan, completed the school’s Omnium Global Executive MBA in 2008.
He had planned for several years to make the transition from the military to finance and was attracted to Rotman because of the focus put on first hand exposure to global markets.
“We don’t do business solely with the United States,” says Savage. “It is not fortress North America.”
The 18-month Omnium program costs $85,000 and participants are taken to key centres of business in countries such as China, Brazil, Europe and India over the course of the MBA.
Savage, 33, currently works for TD Bank Financial Group, joining the bank’s management associate rotation program in spring 2009. Participants take part in four, six-month rotations, which over two years expose them to every part of the bank’s operations.
“The companies that we look at have global operations and understanding what is going on in those countries gives you a leg up,” he said.
Beatrix Dart, associate dean and executive director of the Rotman Initiative for Women in Business, can’t fathom how any student of business would want to limit their learning to what is available strictly on their native soil.
“I find it so surprising that there is so little effort from the Canadian perspective to understand the rest of the international economy,” said Dart.
She said first-hand experience with global markets is key for anyone seeking to understand international business. It is also essential considering the increasing level of foreign involvement and investment in Canadian companies, she said.
Dart’s peeve is that Canada remains very U.S.-orientated as an economy, and, as a result, trade links to areas of the world including Europe and South American are underdeveloped.
This program is a way to bridge that gap, she says. Next year, the class will be heading to India.
“Unless you have been there, you have no clue about how fast-growing it is, how innovative, how creative,” said Dart. “You can see it as a threat or you can see it as an opportunity.
Hopefully, this program helps you to see it as an opportunity to engage.”
Savage said working to solve business problems in Asia and South America during his EMBA program gave him an edge in the world of finance, particularly operating out of a city as diverse as Toronto and in an increasingly global economy.
In China, they were paired with the founder of a western-style consulting firm that needed a business plan to bring clean technology into China.
“It was kind of his brain child, but he needed someone to work out the model for him,” said Savage.
Savage joined the military in 1993, earned an undergraduate degree in military and strategic studies, then spent several months in Afghanistan.
“No days off for four-and-a-half months, working 16 to 20 hours days with your colleagues in a high threat environment. That was stressful.”
He had to learn to think logically through problems and work well in a team under extreme stress. It’s training he knows will serve him well in finance, combined with the experience and international contacts he acquired through Rotman.
“If you want the global perspective and some additional tools from which to see the world, it is a great program.”