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Voyt Krzychylkiewicz has almost 20 years of investment and finance experience, and has served as a non-executive director of both public and private companies. Mr. Krzychylkiewicz, who was born in Poland but raised in South Africa, moved to Canada in 2017 from Johannesburg. He is currently a co-founder and investment executive at NorthShore Partners and an executive MBA student at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. This is his first blog for EMBA Diary.

Voyt Krzychylkiewicz moved to Canada in 2017 and enrolled in the executive MBA program at the University of Toronto.

The past year was one of new beginnings and many challenges. A little more than a year ago, I moved to Toronto with my family, enrolled in the executive MBA program at the Rotman School of Management in Toronto and co-founded a new business.

During this year, I was fortunate to be exposed to many new things and learned a lot about Canada, entrepreneurship and myself.

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At the same time, I developed a deep affinity for my new country, its people, hockey and snowblowers. It is fair to say that this is a truly exceptional place ­– a blend of the economic capitalism embodied by the United States, the supportive public policy elements of Europe and the friendliness of, well, Canada.

Prior to moving to Canada, I garnered a fair amount of international experience, having worked as the chief investment officer for a global, multibillion-dollar investment holding company. I have been privileged to serve on boards of public and private companies in Africa and Europe, where I led 20 acquisitions across four continents.

Despite this, I had only passing experience of dealing with Canadian companies and lacked the critical “Canadian work experience.” Like many new arrivals have found, this lack of Canadian experience has meant that I would, in some cases, not meet the criteria for employment or be considered for a board or other similar positions.

As a result of this challenge, I recognized the need to improve my knowledge of the Canadian market and to build a professional network here. These were among the many reasons that led me to embark on an EMBA at Rotman. Now, it is fair to say that it has been a worthwhile experience.

Upon starting in the program, I was pleased to see that Rotman has encouraged greater global representation for its EMBA candidates. We had students from 18 countries with nearly 45 per cent of the class coming from outside Canada – a true melting pot of different backgrounds, ideas and perspectives.

In this diversity of opinion and experiences, my perspectives broadened immensely. On the one hand, my international classmates were able to share issues, models, strategies and learnings from countries around the world – many of which I was not exposed to previously.

On the other hand, those with significant local experience could share their deep understanding of domestic markets, conditions and industries. Having both the local and global perspectives is highly valuable for me personally as many of the companies I work with, while being founded in Canada or the United States, have existing international operations or global ambitions.

While building my knowledge through Rotman has indeed proved valuable, the real benefits of the EMBA are the relationships that I have made, both business and personal. This has already propelled my business forward and provided me with significant opportunities that I would not have had otherwise.

More than that, my classmates provided me with friendship and familiarity at a time when everything was new and uncertain. Their selflessness and kindness made me feel welcome and meant that settling into my new Canadian life was that much easier.

While we have now officially finished the course work for the EMBA, I am delighted that the relationships will endure and look forward to building on these friendships for years and decades to come.

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