group of graduates

Looking ahead, and reflecting back: IMI graduates reflect on their experiences and what their futures hold

Mashiyat Ahmed

As the University of Toronto's Spring Convocation began celebrations this week, the Institute for Management and Innovation is keen to acknowledge the excellence of this year’s graduating class. From June 3 to 21st, graduates will stand shoulder to shoulder with their peers in the fresh June weather, ready to reflect on their time at U of T, and for some, gear up for their exciting professional endeavors. Three soon-to-be graduates reflect on their unique and provocative experiences and lessons at IMI.

woman in white shit and black blazer
Nadine Beganovic, MBiotech '24

Nadine will be graduating from the Master of Biotechnology (MBiotech) Program this June. Throughout her time at U of T, she has gathered a wealth of valuable skills and insights from the program’s “academic integration with real-world experience in the industry,” which according to Nadine, was essential in securing an internship with a medical dermatology company where she supported key marketing initiatives for two brands. In that role, Nadine absorbed a “breadth of project management skills and cross-functional collaboration that would set the foundation for an exciting career ahead that [she is] super proud of today.” 

IMI is here to prepare students both academically and experientially so that graduates like Nadine can spring into their professional careers with a wide range of assets, perspectives, and skills. Through external opportunities, academic workshops, and mentorships, customizable learning was one of the key factors that made Nadine’s masters experience truly memorable and fulfilling. Nadine comments that “the most inspiring day of my U of T career was presenting and watching my peers deliver their hospital presentations in the auditorium of Sunnybrook Hospital among a front-row medical doctors and expert researchers,” and despite the challenges of understanding the modern healthcare system, “I began to realize the added value teamwork and fresh perspectives bring to ideas and that we are all in this industry together to learn from each other in our shared pursuit to continually improve health innovation.” 

This, and other experiences beyond the classroom crystallized Nadine’s conviction that “no healthcare problem is experienced alone, and that being ambitious for innovation and for patients will always demand new ways of thinking.” 

man in graduation gown
Eric Zhao, MUI '24

Similarly, Eric graduated this week from the Master of Urban Innovation (MUI). Armed with his bachelor’s in economics, Eric was thrilled to combine his theoretical knowledge with a more practical and interdisciplinary understanding of economics in action. “Although my economics education has been invaluable for understanding how the market functions and how to make rational decisions in idealized situations, I discovered a stronger interest in solving practical problems and creating social change,” says Eric. Putting these evolving interests into action, Eric states that his final-year capstone project, where he and his colleagues delved into the “impact of Ontario’s trends in remote working,” was the most challenging yet inspiring experience for him, and that such an experience was only made possible because of IMI’s unwavering dedication to hands-on, immersive learning. 

Throughout his time at IMI, Eric’s summer internship with the City of Mississauga, his capstone research project, and in-classroom learning perfectly poised him to navigate the tricky intersections of “economic efficiency, equity, sustainability, and other crucial aspects of building better cities.” 

Jacob is another IMI alumni graduating from the Master of Science and Sustainability Management (MScSM) program. With his undergraduate background in economics and strategic management, Jacob was drawn to the program’s holistic approach to studying sustainability which integrates knowledge from multiple disciplines including economics, management, natural science, and social science. 

Venturing beyond the walls of his classroom, Jacob cites that interacting with his peers and leveraging the plethora of learning and development opportunities IMI provided, was as integral to his successes as the deep academic body of knowledge he is leaving with. “Through guest lectures and conferences, case competitions, networking events, and professional development sessions, IMI and the MScSM program ensured that there was an opportunity for us to learn and apply skills to take on a career focused on sustainability. By curating student experience in this way, my peers and I are leaving with an abundance of experiences to draw upon as we face the challenges that lie ahead,” notes Jacob. 

man in blue suit
Jacob Dwinnell, MScSM '24

The complex nature of sustainability related issues that our society faces is made even more daunting by the lack of well-defined roadmaps needed to solve them. There is no one-size-fits-all answer to the collective anxiety and destruction caused by issues such as climate change. 

However, the MScSM program’s emphasis on critical and diverse thinking, comments Jacob, is the bedrock of fighting these challenges and pursuing a rewarding career in sustainability. “The program put a heavy emphasis on developing critical thinking skills and empowered us to seek our new and innovative solutions to incredibly complex problems, and while frustrating at times, having this approach to learning, my master’s experience has set me up for success, regardless of the challenges to come.”

IMI is incredibly proud to have Nadine, Eric, and Jacob in the graduating class of 2024! Beyond representing U of T and IMI, these graduates will go onto become innovators and leaders in their respective fields. 

As such, they leave future students with passionate words of advice: “don’t get stuck learning within the bounds of a course, lecture, or textbook, and don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. Success is not about achieving perfection but more so how you overcome along the way,” says Nadine. 

Eric urges students to explore different avenues, make connections, and ask questions. And lastly, Jacob remarks that “having an idea of where you would like to end up after the program can be helpful, but graduate studies give you the opportunity to explore exciting paths you may not have explored otherwise.”

Read about more of our June 2024 IMI grads: "Grads from UTM master’s programs appreciate ‘extra layer of reward and gratitude’ as they receive latest degrees"