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U of T alum selected as Schwarzman scholar

A graduate of U of T Mississauga's Institute for Management & Innovation, Aly Madhavji is one of 129 students chosen to be 2018 Schwarzman scholars (photo by Sarah Jane Silva)

Aly Madhavji is China-bound.

The 26-year-old graduate of the Institute for Management & Innovation (IMI) at U of T Mississauga has been selected to be in the second class of Schwarzman Scholars.

The master’s degree program, which was inspired by the Rhodes Scholarship, offers a fully funded scholarship to study at the new Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

The scholarship was started by Stephen A. Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone Group, a multinational private equity firm. Madhavji, who hails from Burnaby, B.C., is among 129 students from 30 countries and 75 universities selected for the class of 2018.

This fall, he’ll head to Tsinghua University in Beijing where he is excited to be further exposed to Chinese culture.

“During the interview process, I met dozens of incredibly talented candidates, all of whom were very deserving of the scholarship so I am very grateful and humbled to have been selected,” he said. “It’s definitely a surreal feeling filled with immense excitement.”

Madhavji recently completed his MBA studies at INSEAD, one of the world's leading and largest graduate business schools.

“I am currently helping to lead strategic projects with the dean and the board of directors of INSEAD.”

Over the past year, he published his second and third books, Your Guide to get into Medical School and Your Guide to Succeed After Graduation, written in consultation with many experts.

He spoke recently to U of T's Sarah Jane Silva.

Can you describe what you will be doing as a Schwarzman Scholar?

I will be pursuing a Master of Global Affairs focused on public policy, which I believe is an important foundation for understanding the policies and processes that shape the societal and economic decisions of nations.

Why is it important for students to seek opportunities to build mutual understanding and respect between different peoples and cultures?

It is increasingly important because it helps avoid misconceptions and misinterpretations which can be attributed to the unfamiliarity of other cultures. With the emergence of globalization, we will increasingly live and work in cross-cultural settings where mutual understanding and tolerance will be the cornerstone for progress.

Can you describe the application process for the Schwarzman?

The application process was quite rigorous and included a written biography, a summary of experience, four references, a personal statement, a leadership essay and a current affairs essay, a CV and a video introduction!

A few weeks after the submission I was invited to interview in Bangkok, Thailand, where there was a panel interview and lunch with senior business, education and political leaders followed by a team building exercise with other candidates. The whole process was impeccably organized and helped to reduce any of my nerves.

What are your hopes and aspirations?

In my application and interviews, I focused on the importance of truly understanding both the Western world and China, and the ability to leverage the knowledge of deeply understanding China as a beacon for understanding certain emerging markets. This would be critically important over several decades for the business and non-profit sectors, which I plan to be involved in.

How is your Mandarin?

我还在学习基本的普通话 (I'm still learning basic Mandarin). I will be taking intensive Mandarin Chinese classes and pursuing numerous experiential learning experiences across China.