Our alumni community is over 14,000 members strong. From Toronto to New York City to Hong Kong and beyond, our graduates are making their marks in businesses and communities around the globe. We are exceptionally proud of all of our grads and are excited to share their stories.
Featured Alumni Profile
Jingze (John) Shi (BCOM ‘17) ON The Business of Learning
Seeing the Future
Jingze (John) Shi has always been a driven individual. During his first years at Rotman Commerce, he was already assisting other international students and people planning a future in Canada, despite being still an undergraduate student himself. “In some cases, I was actually helping people who were much older than me,” he says. “But I understood the challenges that people who move here from China and other parts of the world face.”
He knew there was only one place that he wanted to study business. “Rotman is the one that I wanted to come to, even before I moved to Canada,” he remembers. “Even though I got offers from other schools, I chose Rotman.”
John says that the decision came down to a combination of the program’s reputation, and the level of access to the finance and business worlds that Toronto affords. “The city is important. You have to compare the futures of the city you might live in—Toronto is very different than Montreal,” he further explains. “Toronto is still young; you can see the passion here. Canada is kind of a low-passion country, but Toronto is not. I could see a future in Toronto. They are all great schools, but when you compare the cities and all the networking potential, UofT is the best in my opinion.”
John was very much interested in maximizing his educational experience while at Rotman Commerce, and this led to his high level of involvement outside the classroom. “I co-founded a UofT club called UTISEE which was dedicated to helping the transition period of students from high school to university, and I participated in events,” he recalls fondly. “A big part of the reason I’ve achieved [this level of success] is because of what Rotman Commerce gave me.”
Already eyeing his future goals, John knew that a solid business education was the key to realizing his entrepreneurial vision. “The reason that I chose to learn accounting was not because I wanted to be an accountant,” he elaborates. “It’s because accounting knowledge is really important for entrepreneurs. You need to know all the financial statement stuff. I was kind of already planning to become an entrepreneur while I was still in high school, but I didn’t really have an idea about what I should do, what specific area I should get into.”
John eventually found his inspiration, leading to an innovative and impactful new business idea.
John says that he was very aware that, even as a student, he was part of a much larger community. With that in mind, he sought to fuse his sense of civic responsibility with his experiences as an international student.
“It’s really hard for international students, when they come here—the language, the culture, it’s all difficult,” says John. “And they have to adapt as soon as possible. You have different people trying to give you advice on how to select your high school courses in order to prepare yourself for university. And even Canadian students still feel a gap between high school and university—so what about the international students?”
Since graduating in November 2017, John has already co-founded an education consultancy with Zifei Han (another UofT student with Computer science degree). Uforse Education Group Inc. aims to help high school international students through courses, training, and mentoring. Uforse has developed an innovative education model to offer the optimal amount of support, guidance, and enrichment for students, namely the Tutor-Mentor-Advisor concept. Their goal is to provide students with the bespoke tailored learning experience for each individual through Uforse’s unique online and offline platform system. Using the network and skills he gained through his education, he was able to connect with other UofT graduates who helped to develop Uforse. “We actually started the company while I was still in my third year [at Rotman Commerce],” he says proudly.
Now already at the helm of a thriving and innovative business, John knew the time was right to re-invest in his alma mater, which brought him to the notion of leadership giving. “As young entrepreneurs, I think it’s really important that we give back to society,” he explains.
Leading Through Change
John wanted to establish a new scholarship award for leadership and volunteering in the name of his company: the Uforse Scholarship in Volunteerism and Leadership. “Our company was doing quite well, and was funded entirely by U of T graduates, so we wanted to do something for our school,” he explains. “And we thought ‘why not start something new, something to benefit future students?’”
This type of leadership giving is one of the most important types of support at Rotman Commerce. These donations allow the program to establish new awards and scholarship funds, leveraging the success and generosity of our accomplished alumni community to reinvest in the talent within the Rotman Commerce halls. “We feel we should be honouring students who volunteer and demonstrate leadership,” says John. “People should have this spirit—to help others not because you are rich, but because it makes our whole society better.”