Challenge to Change | MBA helps alumna make a fresh start in Vancouver

After launching her career in finance in St. Petersburg, Elena Tikhomirova used her UBC MBA to secure a senior role at RBC Royal Bank in Vancouver.


Throughout her entire career, Elena Tikhomirova has been laser-focused on finance. She completed a master’s degree in finance and from there launched her career as a Financial Manager.

Yet Tikhomirova wanted to deepen her expertise and broaden her international career opportunities so she decided to pursue an MBA. The only question was where in the world the St. Petersburg native would pursue the designation.

“Choosing the right university was very important for me,” Tikhomirova says. “I wanted to use my time, efforts and financial resources in the most efficient way.”

Tikhomirova is proficient in four languages – Russian, English, French and Spanish – which means she could conceivably attend school in any number of countries. But Canada was calling to her.

“I was intrigued by UBC Sauder because the MBA program is one of the top-ranked in the country,” she says. “Plus, Vancouver is widely considered one of the best cities in the world to live in. The opportunity to experience the city as a student was very exciting to me.”


An avid hiker, Tikhomirova immediately took to Vancouver’s active lifestyle. And with all that fresh air came a fresh start.

“When I moved to Vancouver I had to face the realization that I didn’t know anyone,” Tikhomirova says. “I had to build my brand and my career from the ground up.”

Through UBC Sauder’s Business Career Centre, Tikhomirova found ample help establishing herself.

“I was paired with a mentor who to this day is an important guide for me,” she says. “He always found the right advice as I was pursuing my MBA and even now, years later.”



Between the MBA’s courses, projects and networking events, Tikhomirova gained critical exposure to the world of Canadian business.

“From small startups to major financial institutions, from employees to entrepreneurs – it oriented me to a new way of doing business,” she says. “And gave me a sizeable network in the process.”

While the technical elements she learned from professors like Adlai Fisher and Tom Davidoff still come in handy in her career, it was the tone her instructors set that Tikhomirova finds especially inspiring.

“Right from the first class, they told us we shouldn’t set limits for ourselves,” she says. “They made it clear we have no boundaries in our careers or our development, personally or professionally.”


In the time since Tikhomirova has completed her MBA, she has worked in a number of roles in commercial banking: as a Commercial Account Manager, Commercial Credit Analyst and Senior Risk Manager.

“My career is very diverse,” she says. “I apply a large spectrum of skills I learned throughout my MBA.”

Today, she is a Commercial Account Manager at RBC Royal Bank.

“I love my role because you can actually see the impact you’re making,” she says. “Finance sometimes can seem somewhat abstract. But here, my clients are expanding their businesses or buying a company or hiring more people or purchasing new capital assets. You can see the direct effect on local communities.”


Name: Elena Tikhomirova
Title: Commercial Account Manager, RBC Royal Bank
Track: Finance
Nationality: Russian