Strategic Management (Entrepreneurship & Management Strategy): Student Testimonials

Efosa KC Obano

Specialist: Management - Strategic Management Stream
 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
Growing up as a child, I was initially interested in accounting just because both my parents were accountants. But on a personal level I always had a knack for business, and I loved the idea of raising capital through practical ventures. I had my first real taste of business in high school, through my involvement in our Junior Achievement company as a senior official. It was an organization that encouraged entrepreneurship and financial literacy among students. When it was time to apply to university, my parents gave me a lot of flexibility and my program choice was a no brainer after my experiences. I also found subjects like Economics very interesting, and this made it easy to go with management. After taking courses from the different streams (finance, accounting, economics, marketing and strategy) I decided to specialize in strategy because it aligned most with what I was interested in learning.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
When you hear "management" as a young teenager, you imagine that you are going to be taught how to "manage" a business (at least this was what I imagined). But the management program here is much more than that. I think it's hard to accurately describe what the program entails without actually going through it. Management in UTSC is a very interesting (yet challenging) program. It offers you way more than just an academic experience, with a huge focus on your leadership and communication skills. As I mentioned earlier, there are different streams which you can specialize in based on your interest and strengths. But regardless of your specialization, you have to take courses from every stream in order to meet the program requirements. What surprised me the most was the amount of Math/quantitative related courses I had to take. At the beginning I couldn't understand what statistics and calculus had to do with managing a business. But to stand out in today's business world you need a solid background in every aspect of a corporation's structure, and this is what the program provides you with. Your soft skills are equally as important, and this is why the program provides you with a lot of learning opportunities outside the classroom.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
First of all, make sure you are strong enough quantitatively. If you struggled (or are struggling) with high school math or calculus, then you definitely need to work hard on improving. A lot of students fail first year calculus and leave the program as a result. And a lot of upper year courses involve high quantitative aptitude. The management program also comes with a lot of presentations, group work and networking. It isn't easy for everyone, but you need to learn to be comfortable and confident around other people. If you are one of those that struggles with stage fright or shyness, start working on this as early as possible by practicing with people you are comfortable with and eventually getting outside your comfort zone. From experience, it is easier to learn this when you aren't being graded on it. Lastly, time management is very integral to success in this program. You will have to join clubs, partake in competitions and job hunt all along with your academic commitments. Inefficient time management makes it very hard to succeed.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
My long term dream is to eventually start up a business back in my country (Nigeria). I am really passionate about impact entrepreneurship and I hope to establish a business that attempts to solve one of the many problems the country is facing. But before I get to that stage, I would like to spend some time working in Canada to recapture the value of my degree and get more experience. I will also spend time growing my non-profit organization (www.africanimpact.ca) which is focused on tackling some of those problems on a smaller scale. An MBA is something I haven't thought too much about right now, but depending on how things turn out I may decide to pursue that before I return home eventually.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
My first year was full of adaptation. Coming from a different country, I had to cope with a lot of new things such as getting used to this education system, growing my personal network and improving my communication skills. But I didn't find my courses too challenging (apart from calculus!) as they were all intro level courses. I also took most of my elective courses in my first year. I think second year is the hardest year in management because you have to take courses from streams which you have no interest in, and combine this with extra-curricular engagement. It was a learning curve, but I got to understand the importance of time management the hard way. It was also at this time that I became sure of the stream I wanted to specialize in. Third year and my portion of fourth year have been more comfortable, because the courses I have been taking more recently are those I am really interested in. This is because as you advance in the program, your course concentration shifts more to your specialization. At this point I'm looking forward to enjoying my last few semesters here and learning as much as I can before it's over.