Jessica Markic grew up in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto. She started post-secondary education at the University of Guelph in 2008, and in her second year her parents moved from Richmond Hill to Guelph, making it her new home when not in Halifax. Jessica graduated from the University of Guelph with an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in human kinetics in April of 2012.
What made you decide to do an MBA? Why did you choose Dalhousie?
I had known for some time that I wanted to further my education after my undergraduate degree. I looked into an MBA because I knew it would open up a greater number of job opportunities for me once I graduated—opportunities that I would not have had with only a Bachelor of Science degree.
I originally looked at Dalhousie because I had read an article in Maclean’s magazine about Dalhousie’s MBA program being at the top of a list for Canadian MBA programs for return on investment. I looked into several programs on that list and what appealed to me most about Dalhousie’s program was the work experience I would gain from the 8-month corporate residency.
I think that Dalhousie’s unique program structure definitely gives it a competitive advantage. The first 6 months, during which a number of core classes are taken, prepares students for the 8-month corporate residency. The residency allows students to gain work experience and apply some of what they learned in their first 6 months. During the last 8 months back in the classroom, students choose some elective courses, perhaps influenced by their work experience, to focus their learning.
Additionally, I was really attracted to the smaller class size that Dalhousie advertised, compared to other schools. Coming from a science degree, and having never taken any business courses, I took comfort in knowing that there was a smaller student to teacher ratio and should I need help along the way, I wouldn’t be just a number in a classroom.
Where are you doing your residency and with whom?
I’m doing my residency with Scotiabank in Kitchener, Ontario, working in Commercial Banking.
Could you describe one of your typical workdays for me?
A lot of my days, so far, have been spent spreading financial statements provided by our customers and prospects into a program called Moody’s Financial Analyst. This permits analysis of important margins and ratios to determine financial risk of these customers and prospects. The next step in the lending process would be determining management risk, and my job is to answer specific qualitative questions for each of our customers, which then affects the level of credit risk that was determined from the customer’s historical financial statements.
It is also my job to populate annual reviews for existing customers. This process ensures that customers are still within the covenants they agreed to when the relationship began. It allows us to ensure that the products we are offering to our customers still fit their needs. Populating a credit application entails some research about the history of the company and its owners and managers, as well as a full financial analysis of year over year interim and annual results.
What skills are required in your position on a day-to-day basis?
A strong understanding of financial statements is key. Understanding what is happening and why it is happening is important when determining whether or not to lend to a customer, so strong analytical skills are a must.
What parts of your job do you find most challenging?
Figuring out where to find the information I need to populate applications and answer questions about the customers is most difficult. The bank has a very large database of information, some of which is being transferred onto newer systems, so some information is scattered, and most of the time I find myself having to search for what I need.
What do you find most enjoyable?
I really like the people I work with and the environment I work in. Everyone is eager to help me, and their doors are always open if I have questions. I also really like that I work independently, and have the opportunity to try and figure things out on my own, but can ask for help whenever I need it.
How would you describe the corporate culture?
Relaxed, supportive and inclusive are words that come to mind. Everyone in the office works really hard, but the office also takes opportunities to have fun. There’s a healthy work-life and I really like that. As I said before, everyone in the office is very supportive and they actively make an effort to include me in deals that I might not otherwise get to participate in, and introduce me to other business units of Scotiabank. The corporate culture has really allowed me to adapt to my role and feel very comfortable, which I am thankful for.
What are the important personal qualities or abilities for a person in your type of work?
You have to like working independently, analyzing financial statements and doing research. Although there are opportunities to work in small teams, most of the day is spent working on your own. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to make connections as I have already established a strong network comprising both friends and colleagues.
What skills has Dalhousie taught you that have prepared you for this job?
I believe that without the first 6 months of the Corporate Residency MBA I would definitely find it difficult to excel in my current position. I am really thankful for my accounting and finance classes, because without them I feel I would really struggle in this position. Dalhousie definitely helps prepare you for the work term with the intense combination of soft and hard skills classes.
Are you making lots of connections on your residency? What opportunities have you had to meet people outside of your office?
I have definitely made connections with the people in the office that I intend to keep in the future. I work with a great group of people. Outside of my office there are opportunities to meet other Scotiabank employees such as Young Professionals, and opportunities in the community to meet other business people at Business After 5.