In the first post of our newest blog series, The Unconventional MBA, Dilani Rabindran shares how her MBA allowed her to transition from undergrad scientist to entertainment executive.
MBA, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University.
Occupation: Manager of International Marketing and Sales, Tribal Arts Productions
Most people are confused as to why I pursued my MBA, and my current roles as a South Indian film production executive and columnist, when they hear that my undergraduate degree is in Genetic Biology, with a minor in Mathematics and Statistics from McMaster University. I can’t blame them – my path is nothing short of avant-garde.
My Path to an MBA
By the end of my third year of Biology I knew I had no desire to work in a lab or pursue a Masters in Science that would involve rigorous research. I also truly enjoyed working as a Teaching Assistant for Statistics courses, but I knew my interest was not enough to warrant higher studies or a job in that realm either. But my undergraduate degree was challenging to say the least and through it I learned what my strong suits were: written and verbal communication, quantitative and qualitative reasoning, organizational and interpersonal skills, and an ability to lead others.
"I was most interested in the diversity a Masters of Business Administration offered."
Knowing I was not yet ready for the full-time work force I contemplated several graduate programs, but an MBA had been on my mind for a few years by then. I knew I would like to travel for work, and that I had a wide range of interests and could see myself working in a variety of fields. So I was most interested in the diversity that a Masters in Business Administration offered; I liked the idea of people around the world immediately knowing what my education included and that I was equipped to direct projects and people with poise if I said “I have my MBA."
Working Overtime for My Goal
So throughout my final year of Genetics I researched Ontario’s leading MBA programs, especially those with co-op programs so that I could try out various types of jobs while completing my masters itself. And after much thought I set my sights on getting into the 28-month MBA co-op program at the DeGroote School of Business of McMaster University.
"The sleepless nights were worth it [...] I was sitting in my first MBA classes, surrounded by ambitious, well-rounded peers..."
Looking back, I’m not quite sure how I managed those last few months of my undergraduate as I completed my Genetic biology thesis, assisted in the department of Statistics and prepared for my GMAT exam. I’m sure copious amounts of chocolate-covered coffee beans were involved. But the sleepless nights were worth it, because just 4 months after obtaining my Bachelors of Science I was sitting in my first MBA classes, surrounded by ambitious, well-rounded peers, some with years of work experience, ready to learn to “professionally lead."
Discovering my Passion
My time at DeGroote was the most enlightening phase of my education, and I learned more about myself while I did my MBA than I ever did during my undergraduate degree. I earned fantastic, varied work experience in project management, consulting, market analytics and advertising via my co-op terms. And thanks to some of my favorite classes like “Crisis and Communications” that forced us all to come out of our shells, I was driven to discover what it is I was most passionate about and do that to the best of my ability, proudly, like no one else could.
Soon enough I knew that I was most passionate about the entertainment business and writing. Ever since I was little I had been learning Eastern and Western music and dance, I was raised on Indian cinema by my parents, and was always most proud of my many essay and speech competitions victories. So I decided to use my training from DeGroote to pursue positions within entertainment organizations upon graduation, which led me to my start as a Financial Analyst at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival), which led me to where I am now – which is somewhere I’m very happy.
"Doing my MBA gave me the extra confidence I lacked to openly pursue what I was always most interested in."
Looking back, I now realize that doing my MBA didn’t “convert me” from science to the glitz and glamour of the arts and entertainment sector. Instead, doing my MBA gave me the extra confidence I lacked to openly pursue what I was always most interested in. I knew my MBA had equipped me with the skills to adapt to all sorts of profit and non-profit organizations, in different types of roles, and lead wherever I got the chance. So I ran forth without fear on this unconventional path of mine, knowing I have an MBA to guide me.