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Tharanee Dhanayarajan

What year did you graduate from HBA and MBA?

I graduated from HBA in 2017, and MBA in 2020.

City you live/work in:

I’m originally from King City and worked in London, Ont. after my HBA. After my MBA, I’ll work in Toronto in Royal Bank of Canada’s Wealth Management Generalist program.

Describe the role you play professionally:

Prior to the MBA, I was in Business Development & Strategy at General Dynamics Land Systems. The job – as my HBA marketing professor would say – was to bring money through the front door. We were at the front end and could see everything happening in our large organization and work to navigate it toward success.

The strategy aspect allowed us to plan for long- and short-term sales. This is an area where you can really utilize the knowledge and skills you developed in the HBA and find creative solutions to better organizations. You can think creatively and apply novel ideas to complex problems. For business development, corner-office strategy wrapped up in a neat PowerPoint presentation doesn’t cut it. We need actionable strategies that meaningfully drive the business forward and create value for our stakeholders.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The defence contracting business is highly sensitive to geopolitics and macroeconomics. It is challenging to balance the micro events and features of your industry/company alongside the macro happenings that can rapidly evolve on a day-to-day basis. These must all be measured when considering corporate actions regarding everything from product development to customer pursuits. Having a deep understanding of the global geopolitical landscape and being able to develop novel solutions are key success factors for the job.

What made you decide to embark on an MBA?

I decided to do an MBA because I felt I had achieved everything I wanted to at General Dynamics. I had a supportive and encouraging environment that gave me wonderful opportunities and I felt I had accomplished a lot while there. I wanted to keep up the momentum.

Coming out of HBA, I wanted to combine bottoms-up analysis with an understanding of macro events to derive actionable insights at the firm level. This was one of the reasons why I joined the defence industry. After spending time working, I wanted to continue leveraging these skills in future pursuits. I felt the investing world was very much aligned with my desire to be in a rapidly evolving globalized environment that provided opportunities for meaningful work and impact

The MBA seemed to be a perfect way to transition between the defence industry and capital markets. Going back to school would allow me to accelerate my career and develop new skills for this line of work. In addition, the MBA would help me to better understand how I can leverage the skills and insights I developed at General Dynamics in new contexts.  

Why did you choose to come back to Ivey?

Ivey balances academics, pragmatism, experiential learning, and managerial dexterity. I felt the HBA had prepared me for the real world and I could apply what I learned at work. Ivey rounded out my education with a relevant variety of disciplines and enough depth for the knowledge to be meaningful. Since the HBA had equipped me this well, I imagined the Ivey MBA would build on my past experiences.

In addition, since I knew what I wanted to do after graduating from the MBA, the expedited MBA Direct program was a perfect fit. I could focus on my goals in an optimal amount of time. Since I had recently completed my HBA, I felt it was unnecessary to go through the typical MBA core business module and the MBA Direct allows HBA graduates to bypass this. I felt it was an excellent value and time-efficient for those with concrete plans who know what they want to achieve.

How were your HBA and MBA classes and overall experience different?

There was an enhanced level of experiential insight and maturity from my fellow MBA students. In HBA, we didn’t feel too constrained when trying to derive solutions to problems, but, in the MBA, the students’ experience helps us to triangulate on more realistic outcomes.

Overall, the HBA seems to be a richer learning environment due to the more gradual pace of learning and because everyone builds off and supports one another given the relatively even level of knowledge and experience among all the students. However, in the MBA, some students have quite specialized knowledge, which helps your learning and provides deeper insights into a topic.

While the MBA is fast-paced, I am confident that HBA graduates can keep up, given their understanding of the case method of learning and how to apply themselves in business contexts. The HBA gave us a strong foundation so we can successfully progress through the MBA at an expedited pace.      

How has the MBA influenced your life professionally and personally?

Similar to the HBA, the MBA allowed me to meet a fantastic group of people and make wonderful friendships. Anyone in my small MBA Direct cohort would likely agree that we have all become close and that these friendships will last a lifetime. I am very grateful to have met all those in the Ivey MBA Class of 2020.

Professionally speaking, the MBA allowed me to achieve exactly what I wanted – to transition into the money management industry. I also developed relevant skills and competencies for that line of work.

What advice do you have for HBAs grads considering their MBA at Ivey?

Plan effectively. Speak with the admissions team for help in understanding if it is the right time for you to go back to school and if an MBA will help you achieve your goals.

Also reach out to current MBA and MBA Direct students for their perspective on the program. Ask them what you need to do to succeed in the program and what the experience will be like.

Before going into the MBA Direct program, you need to know what you want to do once you graduate. I knew what kind of employment I wanted and was speaking to people in the industry months before even applying to the program. This helped me to narrow down what kinds of opportunities were aligned with my greater goals and objectives, and I was already in interviews within weeks of starting the program. While the recruiting period happens months into the regular MBA class, recruiting for certain jobs can start for Directs just weeks into the program (since they start later in the year). If you recognize this early on and plan for it, recruiting – should you choose to participate in it – will be a natural transition.

HBA '17

MBA '20

Ivey Business School

Tharanee Dhanayarajan

Tharanee Dhanayarajan

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