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Katherine Chen, AMBA '21, HBA '16, Senior Manager with the Expedition Women in Leadership Program, on building authentic relationships and exploring new opportunities

Katherine Chen, AMBA ‘21, knows that navigating her way through career options involves building authentic relationships, and as she embarks on a new role that will put her on the fast track to success, she relies on the interpersonal skills developed during her time at Ivey to ensure she makes the most out of this new opportunity.

“What really set me up well was the interpersonal storytelling skills,” says Chen, also an Ivey HBA grad who is now Senior Manager with the Expedition Women in Leadership Program at Scotiabank.

“There was one class with Kanina Blanchard about personal branding, telling your story, finding your narrative. She really set us up to be the best version of ourselves: to be authentic, to be able to build those connections with people you’re meeting for the first time, even virtually. There are so many little things you need to be really mindful of around how you come across as a person – and keeping all that in mind really helped me through the interview process.”

In her current role, Chen is one of six participants chosen by Scotiabank for a two-year rotational program geared to women in leadership in financial services. It involves three eight-month rotations in different areas of the bank, with the goal of exiting the program at Director level, in any of the business areas explored.

For Chen, that means flexing those storytelling muscles every time a new rotation begins.

“As I meet people virtually in my new role, I’ve been able to build really strong connections because of things I’ve kept in the back of my mind through Ivey. My MBA really built up my confidence and my leadership skills,

Chen’s MBA also helped her develop iron-clad time management skills: she began her MBA six months after starting a new job with RBC. While she was initially accepted into the full-time MBA, Ivey’s flexibility in allowing her to switch to the Accelerated MBA, which she could complete while working, meant she didn’t have to choose between going to school and furthering her career.

“When RBC came back to me with an offer, I had a big decision to make. I had a new offer, but I also had the opportunity to go back to school full-time. I was at a crossroads, until Ivey offered to switch my full-time enrollment to the (then) new AMBA program,” she said.

“I think for a lot of people fully quitting your job to go back to school is a little daunting, because you don’t know how you’re going to play out in the workforce after things have wrapped, so I liked that security.”

Once at Ivey, she relied on a “robust schedule” and on her classmates, who banded together to ensure everyone could achieve their goals.

“The mentality was very much, ‘We’re all in this together, we have each other’s back, we’re not competitors, we’re peers,’” Chen said.

“The learning teams were very helpful in terms of helping everyone get their work done. Time management was huge, but I also have to thank my classmates for a lot of what I was able to accomplish.”

For anyone considering the Ivey AMBA, Chen suggests doing your due diligence “processing what Ivey tells you to expect, and picturing what the year will look like.”

“Don’t expect it to be easy, but don’t think you’re in it alone -- the biggest asset I had were my peers and it helped me navigate through the year. Life happens and you have to balance everything at once.”

But for Chen, it was all worth it: She not only ended up in a role that feeds her curiosity and desire to explore as many avenues as possible, but she also gained the boost of confidence she needed that all translated to a better version of herself.

AMBA '21

Ivey Business School

Katherine Chen

Katherine Chen

Senior Manager with the Expedition Women in Leadership Program, Scotiabank

Toronto, Canada

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