On top of the world
Winning the top grades of your class in one year of your university career is a boast-worthy achievement. Earning the top marks of your 350-student class in each of the four years of your undergrad, well, that's a near impossibility. But not if you're Robbie Mitchnick, a 22-year-old who graduated from Queen’s Commerce this spring.
Robbie credits his incredible post-secondary success in large part to the educational techniques he developed from grades 4 to 12 at the private Crescent School in Toronto, where he was head boy in 2009. His secret: rather than memorize facts and definitions to regurgitate come exam time, Robbie strives to comprehensively grasp all the possible angles and tangents of a concept.
"I always liked to understand fully what I was learning," he says. "If you can get to that point, you can adapt and actually apply that stuff across different courses."
Achieving complete understanding involved more than attending lectures and reading a great deal. To round out his knowledge while a Queen’s student, Robbie participated in numerous extracurricular pursuits. In first year, he was frosh rep on the Queen’s University Investment Counsel, which manages a $600,000 portfolio for the School of Business Endowment. By fourth year, he was its CEO.
He also took part in the Students in Free Enterprise Prison Project. (Don't worry, his criminal record is clean.) Through the program, he and fellow students visited minimum-security prisons in the Kingston area and gave inmates presentations on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, investing, and other dollars-and-cents topics. (If the next few years see a bump in market-savvy felonies, blame Robbie and his friends.)
When not dealing in high finance and low crime, he also found time to play Bews hockey and football and even to down an occasional pint at The Ale House.
In September Robbie began a job with the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, which manages around $170 billion in assets. With offices in Toronto, Hong Kong, and London, and with more international hubs opening soon, his work will take him around the world.
Beyond that, he has undefined plans of an MBA at Harvard or Stanford, or perhaps a Master’s degree in Economics at Oxford. Whichever path he chooses, if current trends hold true, this already accomplished young alumnus has many more record-setting years at the top ahead of him.