Originally posted by Scott A.E. Smith.
For this week’s blog, we chatted with Michael Parcon, winner of the 2011 Scotiabank Interview Competition (and the Class of 2013?s Best Dancer award at the MBA Formal!), who’s currently on his Corporate Residency with the Royal Bank of Canada in Halifax. He’s also training for his first marathon in May (hence the title of this post). Good luck, Mike!
What is the Michael Parcon story? Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Corner Brook, NL, and after graduating from Memorial University with a degree in Business Administration, I always knew I would eventually want to get my MBA. With the job market as competitive as it is today, I knew that the best time to get my MBA would be soon after graduation. That way, I would have an opportunity to begin my business career with my best foot forward.
I’ve always had aspirations towards higher education, and I knew there was so much more to learn about the world of business in an academic setting. But I was also eager to start working in the real world and apply some of the skills and experiences I gained from my undergraduate degree. Dalhousie’s Corporate Residency MBA program gave me exactly what I was looking for: the chance to pursue my goal of an MBA degree from one of the best business schools today, and the opportunity to gain exceptional work experience with one of the best employers in Canada.
Tell us about the fall term of the MBA program. What were some of your best experiences?
The fall term of the MBA program was the busiest, most demanding, and most rewarding academic term I’ve ever had and it was quite clear from the beginning that in order to obtain a high quality MBA degree, you are expected to perform academically at a high level. The work ethic and time required to do well in this program were more than I expected, but the fall term was that much more rewarding and significant when I finally achieved what I had set out to accomplish.
One of the most memorable experiences I had last term was winning the 2011 Scotiabank Interview Competition. I entered the contest because I was curious about how my interview skills would compare with other students from Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s University. I wasn’t too serious about winning, but more interested in gaining feedback on my performance. When I was selected as a finalist, though, my competitive instincts took over. The final round was unlike anything I had done before—I was being interviewed by a 3-person panel before a live audience comprising Dalhousie and Saint Mary’s students, staff and faculty. Even more nerve-wracking was that one of the interviewers was posting his candid remarks regarding my performance on his laptop, which was projected above and behind me for the entire audience to see. Winning the entire thing was a great moment for me as it represented a sense of redemption, validation and accomplishment in what I was doing at Dalhousie.
Where are you working for your Corporate Residency and what can you tell us about it?
For my Corporate Residency, I am working for the Royal Bank of Canada’s Commercial Financial Services in Halifax as a Commercial Account Manager. Commercial markets is an area of banking I was interested to learn more about, and RBC is a great place to be exposed to this as our Canadian Banking unit is our single biggest profit driver for the bank overall. My position has two key roles: 1) Meeting with commercial clients in a sales and advisory role to discuss unique credit solutions to address their specific borrowing needs, and 2) Risk analysis and credit underwriting to properly evaluate all risk factors, determine a borrower’s risk rating, model and structure financial lending, and underwrite credit requests for adjudication. The position is exactly what I was looking for in a Corporate Residency, as I get to meet a variety of clients to form sustainable customer relationships, as well as analyze and evaluate financial data for assessment.
I’m also enjoying some of the perks and cool things about the job. I’ve had the good fortune to represent the Royal Bank at various industry events, corporate galas and charity dinners, as well as participate in community events and recreational tournaments with clients. And I’m especially looking forward to volunteering for the bank by teaching the Junior Achievement program to a class of ninth-grade students later this month.
Do you know what you want to do after graduation?
I definitely want to continue my career in commercial banking, and hopefully I can continue this with RBC. During my time here, I’ve learned so much about banking and the Royal Bank in general; part of the appeal in working for RBC as a commercial banker was the experience of working for a global organization with a strong and recognizable brand. The bank’s network of operations is so big and varied that career options for advancement are limitless. One of my goals when starting at RBC was to identify positions or areas in the bank where I could tell myself “That’s an area of the bank where I want to be working in 10 years” or “That’s who I want to be in 10 years”. And the best thing about commercial banking is that it provides an ideal set of fundamental skills for a bright career in finance.
How is your experience with the MBA program so far? What have you learned about yourself?
At the same time I started my Corporate Residency with RBC, I also started training for my first marathon that I’ll be running in May, and it’s the perfect analogy I can make when talking about my experience with the program. Getting your MBA is a lot like training for a marathon: both are completely brand new experiences requiring you to learn and adapt to new skills, work harder than you ever have before, pace yourself, and tofocus on a long-term goal no matter how hard it may get. Some days will be good and others will be bad; some days can feel like a race to the finish, while other days you’ll find that slow and steady wins the race; some days you’ll feel like the task in front of you is impossible, and then you feel a sense of pride in your accomplishment; and sometimes you’ll question what you’ve gotten yourself into, but most times you’ll feel that you made the right decision. Ultimately, no matter what happens, the overall fulfillment comes not just from reaching the “finish line”, but in the overall experience itself.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking of applying today?
Past blogs have done a great job of speaking to the huge career advantage that an MBA degree can offer, or the uniqueness of a paid Corporate Residency in the middle of the program, or the refreshing focus on values-based leadership and ethics. But an underrated aspect of this program I wish to share with a prospective applicant are the friendships and connections you will form with your classmates. This program does an excellent job in making sure everyone in the cohort has an opportunity to form both productive working partnerships inside the classroom and close friendships outside the classroom. With my class, we’ve known each other for just a few months, yet today we all feel like one big family. With any cohort, you’ll meet some of the smartest and most interesting people out there, and you’ll form professional networks and personal friendships that will last a lifetime.