“Dahousie’s MBA(FS) was a natural progression in my academic journey, given that I currently work within the financial services industry. I chose the MBA(FS) specifically for its rigorous and hands-on approach to experiential learning. Students acquire practical and relevant skills needed for this sector. Strengthening my quantitative skills, critical analysis and decision-making abilities were true motivators in choosing the Dalhousie MBA(FS).”
Sara Kassim, MPA, Senior Manager, RBC
The phrase, Life-Long Learning, has become a ubiquitous tagline that involves our need to explore new horizons and opportunities. Our curiosity to know what is around the next corner stirs our adventurous spirits.
Adventures, however, are not for the faint of heart, for there is ever the promise of risk, hard work and ambiguity. Applying for an MBA program takes courage and resolve, characteristics that will remain faithful companions on the road ahead.
Sara Kassim, MPA, Senior Manager, Home Equity Financing Acquisition at RBC, chose Dalhousie’s MBA(FS) program to complete a second master’s degree. In a recent virtual interview, Sara shared her vision of life-long learning and why she chose to enroll in this robust academic program.
Why did you decide to enroll in the MBA(FS) program?
I have always enjoyed academia (No…nobody is paying me to say that!) Enrolling in my first master’s program in Public Policy and Law kindled my passion and enthusiasm for learning. Graduate studies offered me fresh perspectives and the environment to push the envelope. No idea or theory was too crazy to consider, examine and test.
Dahousie’s MBA(FS) was a natural progression in my academic journey, given that I currently work within the financial services industry. I chose the MBA(FS) specifically for its rigorous and hands-on approach to experiential learning. Students acquire practical and relevant skills needed for this sector. Strengthening my quantitative skills, critical analysis and decision-making abilities were true motivators in choosing the Dalhousie MBA(FS). As I near the end of program, I am confident that the knowledge and experience gained over the past months, will permit me to contribute to the success of my organization.
How has your studies influenced your decision-making? Have you changed how you process information? Are you more strategic?
My studies have improved my strategic thinking capabilities, which facilitates optimum decision-making. Based on both my work experience and learnings from Dalhousie’s MBA(FS), I can quickly identify the risks and corresponding mitigating factors of decisions that need to be made. In this sense, I am more comfortable in taking calculated and prudent risks.
The MBA(FS) increased my capacity to work efficiently, develop and implement the necessary tactics, and most importantly, the aptitude to quickly move from analysis to action (instead of analysis paralysis). I would also say that I live a life of no regrets. My decisions today will be based on current information and discussions with all relevant stakeholders. If my decision changes tomorrow, I do not regret my decision yesterday, as it was based on the most up-to-date information/stakeholder opinions at that time.
How do you keep work-study-life balance?
I maintain focus on what matters; I view things in a macro and micro way, depending on the circumstances. This allows me to remain even-keeled and able to navigate through life in a measured way; my responses align to the level of urgency required.
I am fortunate to have an employer that encourages healthy work/life/balance. They support their employees both through verbal and through actions; they provide opportunities to put learnings to work in the organization to solve everyday business problems. Employees are encouraged to seek personal growth and in so doing, achieve return on investment through career advancement.
When studying, my strategy has been to spend one weeknight and one weekend evening studying and completing assignments. This way, I am not overwhelmed as the time for the intensive and exam approaches. I also like to catch up on my readings during timeslots that do not seem to impact my ‘free time.’ For instance, if I am taking the subway to and from work, I will bring my textbook to catch up on that week’s readings….so if I get 40 min of reading done on the subway, that’s 40 minutes less I am doing at night or on weekends!
Sara Kassim, MPA, Senior Manager, Home Equity Financing Acquisition at RBC, has 12 years of experience within the Royal Bank of Canada. Her interests are innovation in the financial services industry, public finance and accounting, Canadian constitutional & administrative law, ethics-privacy-access to information, equity-policy-law & planning, and public policy analysis. Sara has graciously agreed to be a repeat contributor on CFAME Connection