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b2B Philosophy Panel Discussion: Careers in Business – ( October 2018)

October 11 @ 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

On October 11th, the Backpack to Briefcase (b2B) program hosted the Philosophy Career Panel: Careers in Business. Panelists with a similar academic background in philosophy participated in this year’s event which focused on people who now have successful careers in the business world with a degree from the Faculty of Arts & Science. The career panel gave students an opportunity to engage with alumni, ask questions about their future and network. After the event students shared their feedback on the impact the mentorship of alumni had on them during the event. Read below to see what students have to say and read about our Backpack to Briefcase (b2B) mentors:

I’m seriously considering applying to business school after completing my undergraduate [degree] in philosophy. Prior to this event, I had no idea philosophy could lead to a job in business. This is just one path that I could take and requires more research and consultation.  – 3rd year undergraduate student (Philosophy)

The event made me aware of the transferable skills I can develop through the study of philosophy, so I will continue to develop these over the course of my degree. I may also take part in case competitions, as one of the panelists recommended in order to gain more technical knowledge in fields I am interested in. – 2nd year undergraduate student (Philosophy and History)

The most helpful part was receiving practical advice on what to do outside of academia. I will complement my formation with further studies. Perhaps I will pursue a short term qualification from some college in business.  – PhD Student (Medieval Studies and Philosophy)

“It’s ok to take a winding path to your career” is a reassuring statement, and “Boredom isn’t something that happens to you–it’s the result of your choices” (paraphrasing because I don’t remember the exact wording) wasn’t necessarily career-related, but was still inspirational.  – 2nd year undergraduate student (Philosophy)

Panelists at event: 

Eugene Choi, Management Consultant, Blue-mark Management Consultants

Eugene is currently a management consultant at Blue-Mark, where he advises leaders at top Canadian financial institutions on strategic and transformational initiatives. He previously led the development of the strategic vision and five-year roadmap at Travelers, a Fortune 500 insurance company.

Eugene’s career journey started in retail after dropping out of high school when both his parents fell ill – his mom with SARS and his dad with lung cancer. Thankfully, they both made full recoveries within two years (and are now happily retired) and Eugene was eventually able to enroll in the University of Toronto’s Academic Bridging program. He graduated with distinction in 2012 with an Honours BA in Philosophy and Ethics, Society, and Law.

Eugene joined Travelers in 2013 as a systems tester while also pursuing continuing education in project management and risk management. By 2016, Eugene was managing multi-million dollar projects for Travelers, but he recognized that he needed a business education to continue taking on more impactful opportunities. He decided to pursue his MBA part-time at the Rotman School of Management and is due to graduate in 2019. His education at Rotman enabled him to shift into corporate strategy and management consulting. By continuing to pursue lifelong learning, Eugene has been able to take advantage of greater opportunities as they arose. Within five years, Eugene has gone from typing test data into corporate systems to serving as a trusted advisor for VPs in Canada’s top financial institutions


Victor Platt, Manager with Omnia AI, Deloitte Canada

Victor Platt is a Manager with Omnia AI, Deloitte Canada’s artificial intelligence (AI) practice. In this role, Victor focuses on helping large financial and retail industry clients develop strategies to manage the technological and ethical risks associated with AI. Victor holds a Master’s degree in Infrastructure Protection and International Security from the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, an Hons. B.A in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of Toronto, and is a Certified Information System Security Professional. Victor is an active researcher and thought leader whose work on cybersecurity and emerging technologies has appeared in media, academic, and trade publications.


Deepak Ramachandran, Co-Founder & CTO, FundThrough

Deepak Ramachandran is an entrepreneur and investor in the areas of software, clean technology and electronics. Most recently, he co-founded FundThrough, an online funding platform that helps small businesses manage their cash flow by using their invoices as collateral. He has worked with start-ups and bigger companies in Canada, the US, Europe, China and India.

Ramachandran earned his BA in philosophy and chemistry at U of T (1991), where he was active in student government at the Department of Philosophy, before completing his BPhil at Oxford (1994). At U of T, he was granted a Moss Scholarship, awarded to the best all around graduating student for outstanding academic performance as well as extracurricular leadership in a Faculty of Arts & Science program, and he served on the board of Victoria College.  (Continue reading here).


Arthur Ripstein, Acting Chair, Department of Philosophy

Arthur Ripstein studied philosophy at the Universities of Manitoba (B.A 1981) and Pittsburgh (MA 1984, PhD 1986), and joined the University of Toronto’s Philosophy Department in 1987. On his first sabbatical, he studied Law at Yale Law School (MSL 1994). His research has been funded by SSHRC continuously since 1995.  In 1995-96 he was Laurence Rockefeller Fellow at Princeton’s University Center for Human Values; in 1999 he was appointed Professor of Law and Philosophy; in 2000 he held a Connaught humanities fellowship. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2010, awarded the University of Toronto Alumni Association’s Faculty Award in 2012, won a Killam Fellowship for 2016-18, and appointed University Professor in 2016.  In April 2018 he will present the Tanner Lectures on Human Values at the University of California, Berkeley.

One of the world’s leading political philosophers and legal theorists, Ripstein has been at the forefront of renewed interest in Immanuel Kant’s legal and political philosophy. He is the author of three books and more than eighty articles and book chapters.  His first book, Equality, Responsibility and the Law (Cambridge 1998) explored situations in which responsibility and luck come together: accidents, mistakes, emergencies, failed attempts and social misfortunes. The book reoriented discussions of these topics, and was awarded the inaugural Canadian Philosophical Association Book prize in 2001. His second book, Force and Freedom: Kant’s Legal and Political Philosophy (Harvard 2009), offers an articulation and defense of Kant’s idea of justice as a system of equal freedom, explaining its role in private law, constitutional rights, and the “police powers” exercised by states.  Force and Freedom has reframed contemporary legal and political philosophy, has been the subject of multiple conferences and has been the principal text for many graduate seminars at the leading philosophy departments in North America and Europe.  It was awarded the Canadian Philosophical Association Biennial Book Prize, 2011, making Ripstein the only two-time winner of the prize.  His most recent book, Private Wrongs (Harvard 2016) draws on the same Kantian approach to explore the many ways in which individuals can rightly be held responsible for wronging others, including cases of negligence, trespass, intentional interference with the affairs of others, and defamation.

Ripstein’s current project will develop Kant’s idea that the very thing that makes war wrongful – the fact that which side prevails does not depend on who is in the right – also provides the moral and legal standard for evaluating the conduct of war.  Ripstein will extend these Kantian ideas to understand the challenges raised by new and troubling forms of war, including wars of secession and wars involving loosely organized transnational organizations.

Since 2005 Ripstein has been Associate Editor of Philosophy & Public Affairs, one of the two top journals in moral, legal and political philosophy. Prior to that he was Associate Editor of Ethics, the other top journal in the area.  He has also served as an editor of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and on the editorial boards of many other journals.  His popular work appears regularly on Ideas on CBC Radio One. Ripstein has been actively involved in university governance. He was Chair of the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts and Science, and of the tri-campus Graduate Department of Philosophy. (2011-14). He served on Governing Council, (2003-11) as well as its Academic Board, (1997-1999) Business Board, (2003-11) and Executive Committee (2004-11).

Arthur Ripstein will be moderating the Philosophy Career Discussion Panel.


Jay Smith,  First Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manger, CIBC Wealth Management

As a First Vice President and Senior Portfolio Manager at CIBC Wealth Management, Dr. Smith is responsible for providing financial advice for his clients, while managing a high net worth office of CIBC Wealth Management. He currently manages in excess of 3.0 billion dollars in assets for clients

After completing his Doctorate at the University of Toronto, Dr. Smith lectured at the University of Toronto, McGill University and Universiti Sains Malaysia, joining Merrill Lynch Canada as a Financial Consultant in 1978. He was named a Vice President and Chairman of the Advisory Council to Management in 1984, and by 1987 he had been named a Senior Vice President and Director. In January 1990, he joined Wood Gundy as a Vice President, Director and shareholder.

Dr. Smith is a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute, and a Chartered Investment Manager. In 1991, he was the first recipient of the Investment Dealers Association’s National Award of Distinction, an annual award that recognizes excellence and the highest standards of professionalism in the investment industry. He has contributed articles to philosophical journals, financial publications, and gives talks and interviews on financial matters.

Dr. Smith is well known for his philanthropic endeavours and currently serves on the Boards and Executive Committees of numerous charitable organizations including the Art Gallery of Ontario, where he is Vice President of the Board, Chair of the Collections Committee, Chair of the Photography Committee, and past Chair of the Contemporary Curatorial Committee, and sits on their Executive and Strategic Planning Committee. He is a Life Director and a past President of the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery at Harbourfront Centre. He is a Trustee and Treasurer of The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation and on the Board and Executive Committee of the Council of Canadian and American Relations. He also sits on Tate’s North American Acquisition Committee and on their International Council, and is the past Co-Chair of the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In addition to being a strong supporter of culture, Dr. Smith is a former member of the Executive Council and International Board of the Weizmann Institute of Science, and was a former member of the Board of Governors at Mount Sinai Hospital.


 Alison Tasker, Senior Business Information Analyst, Project Delivery Group, Capgemini

Alison Tasker is an energetic, creative innovator, who translates abstract and ambiguous concepts into insightful actionable results that contribute to the bottom line. Since graduating from Victoria College at the University of Toronto, with a degree in Philosophy, Alison has followed both academic and non-academic pursuits.

She joined the Board of Regents of Victoria University in 2012 where she sits on the Investment Committee, managing the long-term health of the University’s endowment and pension investments.

Alison has been a member of Capgemini’s Project Delivery Group for the past 8 years. She has played an integral role as an IT consultant for Ontario Power Generation’s multi-billion dollar nuclear refurbishment and transformation projects. Before joining Capgemini, Alison served as Senior Policy Advisor for the United States Department of State in Toronto. Her analytical work on Ontario’s reaction to “Buy American” provisions helped resolve this dispute between Canada and the United States in 2009. Her analysis of Ontario’s Green Energy Act (GEA) supported the U.S. Government’s observance of Japan’s World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute with Canada on the GEA. Leveraging her industry contacts, Alison’s analysis of Ontario’s intellectual property rights (IPR) climate, and advocacy of the U.S. Government position on IPR, influenced the introduction of legislation to better protect IPR in Canada.

Prior to joining the U.S. State Department, Alison worked as an information technology (IT) business consultant. While working as a product manager at Nortel Networks, Alison completed a MBA and graduated with honours (Beta Gamma Sigma) from the University of Calgary in 2001. She completed a Master of Arts in Philosophy at the University of Toronto in 1996. An avid skier, Alison coached alpine ski racing for 25 years and enjoys other sporting activities, including sailing and tennis.


October 11
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm