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Asper School of Business student Sirius Zhang wearing a red shirt in the Drake building atrium.

Sirius Zhang

Beyond numbers and spreadsheets

Master of Finance student capitalizes on Asper’s collaborative learning environment

March 2, 2022 — 

Sirius Zhang knew she had to study abroad to quell her burning curiosity for future-focused business practices. In 2016, she packed three suitcases and left Guangzhou, China, to pursue her undergraduate studies in Texas. After building a solid foundation, she returned to China to apply her knowledge.

Zhang landed rewarding roles in her home country such as a data analyst and client manager, but this was not enough to stop her from pursuing a postgraduate degree in yet another culturally-rich study abroad destination.

“I gained precious experience in the industry,” she explains. “But soon, I discovered my true calling to experience a culturally diversified, creative and respectful business environment.” All signs led to one of Canada’s leading business schools the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business where Zhang was offered the International Graduate Student Entrance Scholarship.

The business school boasts more than 80 years of experience in providing a world-class education to aspiring leaders and innovators – ones capable of ethically contributing to the social and economic well-being of Canada’s fifth-most populous province and beyond. Zhang knew that to truly make a difference in the financial sector, this was the reputation her university would need. To her, the most significant facts of all were that Asper School of Business respected diverse perspectives and encouraged originality. Her first day on campus proved these to be true.

“On orientation day, not only did I receive access to my class list, but also information on all the extra help available from Asper School of Business, such as career advising, academic tutoring, and more,” she explains. “Halfway through my first semester, support from this respectful and diverse community continued. I love studying with my fellow peers on group projects. I especially love collaborating with classmates from different backgrounds.” One thing Zhang and her new friends for life can agree on? The Asper Master of Finance  (MFin) is an excellent choice. So far, the program is building on everything they already know about business.

Master of Finance student Sirius Zhang sitting in the Stu Clark Graduate School office with a program advisor. Jointly offered by the Stu Clark Graduate School and Faculty of Graduate Studies, the MFin is a comprehensive one-year, three-term program designed to prepare learners for all three levels of exams needed to obtain a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation. In fact, the curriculum is mapped to align with the CFA Program Curriculum.

Sample course offerings include: Accounting Fundamentals; Managerial Economics; Corporate Finance; Alternative Markets and Instruments; Financial Modelling; Behavioural Finance; Investment Policy; International Finance; Readings in Accounting and Finance; Spreadsheet Skills for Management; Basic Quantitative Analysis for Management; and a Career Development Seminar.

Zhang’s favourite lessons revolve around ethics. “It is my personal belief that honesty and justice are the most important virtues in a business world,” she says. “So I really appreciate that a course in ethics is provided to build a mindset for constantly reflecting and thinking in professional settings.”

She credits the MFin for opening her eyes to the ever-changing nature of the world of business and she believes this mindset will play a pivotal role in helping her stand out in an increasingly competitive job market. Her educators helped her realize the abilities to foresee technological advancements and in-demand competencies, understand their effects, and add to her “skill bank” accordingly. Thankfully, the program has already taught her to do the above and more.

Zhang has been an exemplary student so far and her dedication to her studies has certainly paid off. Recently, the newly-minted “lifelong learner” was awarded the Asper Master of Finance Student Bursary as well as the Judy Micay Linhart and Samuel Linhart Scholarship.

Without a financial worry in mind, she plans to soon participate in the Business Case Competition, another Asper School of Business hallmark where students compete to produce and market insightful solutions to today’s business challenges.

“We have already made great progress hunting down members for our team,” Zhang enthuses. “The challenge excites me. I have always enjoyed brainstorming with teammates and creating something from scratch. After all, our program has given us enough imagination to foresee 10 years’ worth of the future.”

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