International career began with McMaster

September 7, 2012 (originally posted on September 12, 2012) | Hamilton, Ontario
Contributed by Leah Rosenthal, '07

Toronto. New York. London. Milan. Madrid. Paris. Moscow. Istanbul. Johannesburg. Dubai. Nairobi. Buenos Aires. Sao Paulo. Just to name a few. The stamps on Madhur (Muddy) Ramrakha‘s passport are in the dozens, but his journey first began at McMaster University when he started his commerce degree in 1986.

Ramrakha’s (B.Com ’90) decision to come to McMaster to complete his undergraduate degree was not without its challenges. Originally beginning his education in California, Ramrakha’s family moved to Toronto abruptly after a change in family circumstances. After visiting a few schools in the GTA, Ramrakha settled on McMaster because of the community-feel the campus provided.

“The friends I have made, the relationships that I have built, it was everything that I wanted in an undergraduate experience,” says Ramrakha. He lived off campus for his first year before settling into residence life for the rest of his undergraduate. He stayed in Bates  and lived, what he calls, the idyllic campus all-in experience, including seeing snow for the first time and adjusting to life in Canada.

Madhur (Muddy) Ramrakha sailing in Sardinia, Italy

Sailing in Sardinia, Italy

Ramrakha has always had a clear career goal to enter into the financial world upon graduating and work towards an accounting designation. However, he recognized the difficult steps to achieve this with other students wanting the same thing. The competition was steep. He knew to stand out against the rest, he needed to be strong academically, have extra-curricular activities under his belt, and a strong sense of community and giving back.

Ramrakha made the most out of his time at McMaster, excelling in school, participating in clubs, student government, and extra-curricular activities and he also volunteered his time in downtown Hamilton at the YMCA, continuing volunteer work he did with the YMCA in California. His proudest moment at McMaster was representing his graduating class as valedictorian in 1990.

With the fundamental skills learned from DeGroote behind him, Ramrakha was able to apply what he had learned to influence, negotiate, analyze business problems, and deliver business results into real life.

Upon graduation, he accepted a four year graduate position with PriceWaterhouseCoopers to attain his practical training experience. It was one of his clients there, a McMaster alumnus that was intrigued by his skills, training and attitude and offered him a position with J.P.Morgan, where he continues to work today.

Working at J.P.Morgan has opened many international doors for Ramrakha. He has worked on projects in over six countries and 15 cities in the past 22 years. These opportunities did not come without their challenges. Picking up and moving around the world, into different cultures and ways of business, can be tricky, especially in projects requiring organizational change.

“It is important to integrate yourself into the culture, both on a personal level and a professional level. Take the time to learn the language, research the culture and respect and appreciate the way things have been done,” explains Ramrakha. “For example, when I was working in Russia I had to learn that collaboration is not a common business practice. Authority and power are critical to make change in Russian organizations. It was definitely a different way of doing business to what I was accustomed.”

Ramrakha is sent to different countries and different cities to assist in change management. This cannot be accomplished without clear objectives on what needs to be achieved. “I recognized very early in my career that it is not my job to walk into a place of business and turn it upside down. It takes discipline, patience and educating myself on their business practices in order for change implementation to take effect and stick for the long-term in a culturally appropriate manner.”

For students looking to work internationally in finance, Muddy offers some unique advice:

  1. Know what your values are and have clarity of purpose. It is critical to your career to know where you stand professionally and personally.
  2. Especially in investment banking, know your expectations. What is your motivation? Does balance in your life matter given the sacrifices required? Strike the right balance between monetary and non-monetary drivers to motivate longevity.
  3. Have a career mentor. A mentor can coach you through the pitfalls and high times and acts as a moral compass. This mentor can be either inside or external to your place of employment.
  4. Stay the course. Do not jump around from job to job. Sometimes you have to sacrifice certain things in order to advance in your career and reap the rewards of years of hard work.
  5. Adjust to changes in your life and learn to be flexible.

3 thoughts on "International career began with McMaster"

  1. Andrew says:

    Really great article! My only other questions would be about his role at J.P.Morgan. I am very interested in international finance and I appreciate the advice given in this article.

  2. Leah says:

    Hi Andrew – glad you liked the article. Email me at rosentl@mcmaster.ca and I will see if I can get your questions answered. Looking forward to hearing from you! – Leah

  3. Vinod says:

    Great article Leah, thanks for posting!

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