CEWIL Canada Student of the Year 2023: Ahnaf Rahman

CiQuinya Morton

“The strength of my roots determines the height of my branches.”

– Ahnaf Rahman, Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Specialist in Finance (Co-op) candidate, University of Toronto Scarborough

The Department of Management, together with the entire University of Toronto community, extends a profound congratulations to Ahnaf Rahman, recipient of the Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada Student of the Year Award 2023.

Hailing from Bangladesh, Ahnaf was awarded the prestigious Lester B. Pearson International Student Scholarship upon admission to U of T Scarborough’s signature Management Co-op program. He quickly emerged as a leader whose impact through Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) and student experience continues to inspire and motivate those around him, especially his peers.
“Ahnaf’s consistent efforts are recognized by faculty, staff, and students alike. Everyone agrees that he telegraphs the U of T Scarborough values of Inspiring Inclusive Excellence across all of his interactions and contributions to the university and our campus,” said Christine Arsenault, Managing Director, Department of Management.
A credit to his growing portfolio of achievements, Ahnaf was named by Co-operative Education and Work-Integrated Learning (CEWIL) Canada as the national award laureate in the University Co-op category among outstanding students nominated by post-secondary institutions across Canada. He is the second U of T student to earn this recognition after U of T Scarborough Co-op BBA alumna CiQuinya Morton was named the winner in the same category in 2020.
“Ahnaf truly deserves this award. What a joy to celebrate his accomplishments as we mark 50 years of leadership in co-operative education at the University of Toronto Scarborough,” Arsenault said.

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WIL (Co-op) Experience

In January 2023, Ahnaf joined KPMG Toronto for an eight-month work term, where he became the first co-op student ever selected to receive the KPMG Spotlight Award among hundreds of analysts nationwide.
Ahnaf was hired as a Technology Risk Consultant: a highly competitive role focused on serving clients in the financial industry; however, Ahnaf’s proficiency for client communication, project management, and financial knowledge quickly surpassed the expectations of his manager. Leveraging skills in PowerBI and data analytics that he developed through the Management Information Systems course at the University of Toronto Scarborough, Ahnaf created an engagement dashboard that was heavily leveraged across his department, supporting positive project outcomes for KPMG clients.

Ahnaf at KPMG Toronto
Ahnaf hosts a Ramadan presentation at KPMG Toronto.

Owing to his proactive attitude and efficiency, Ahnaf became active in additional phases of an engagement lifecycle such as planning, discussing risk assessment and approach, and reporting potential findings to the client. He also designed an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) impact analytics dashboard that he was invited to present to KPMG senior managers and partners.
From training and mentoring incoming interns, to hosting the first Iftar event for his KPMG department and educating non-Muslim colleagues about Ramadan, Ahnaf consistently goes above and beyond to ensure teammates feel welcome, included, and celebrated.
“Ahnaf possesses a natural ability to build and maintain positive relationships within the team as well as with the clients. This skillset is considered as a key success factor in consulting business,” said his KPMG manager.
“His level of self-awareness is far ahead for his age, and despite all his accomplishments, his humility and willingness to keep learning makes him stand miles apart from his peers.”

Academic Achievement

In 2025, Ahnaf will complete his Co-op Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) Specialist in Finance degree from U of T Scarborough Management: one of the most competitive undergraduate programs for admission to the University of Toronto across all disciplines.
During a Work-Integrated Learning (WIL) project in his Consulting and Contracting course, Ahnaf was empowered to provide strategic insights and recommendations to one of the 26 start-ups engaged in the African Impact Challenge. Over the course of eight weeks, his group of three members maintained close communication with the client, actively participating in the full consulting life cycle. This included identifying and prioritizing the client's strategic challenges, conducting analyses, and developing targeted recommendations. Their proposed go-to-market strategy was well-received by the client, who is currently in the process of implementing it. Ahnaf and his team were awarded the highest cumulative score among all groups who participated in the classroom.
Aside from his own coursework, Ahnaf has also applied his learning as a faculty research assistant on a project to help best distribute a historic $23.3 billion reparations settlement to Indigenous people across Canada. He has also served as a TA for six courses with different professors.

Community Impact & Leadership

Ahnaf serves as a key partner in events, initiatives, and organizations at the University of Toronto to promote co-operative education and WIL. In 2023, he was admitted into the highly selective Leadership Fellows Program (LFP) which empowered him to network with senior executives and explore dynamic career options in consulting, finance, and entrepreneurship. This year, leveraging his leadership skills and work experience, Ahnaf was appointed by the LFP team to support curriculum enhancements, create a case competition, and select guest speakers. Ahnaf also inspired dozens of industry partners and co-op employers as student keynote speaker during the Management Co-op Department’s signature on-campus recruitment fair supporting summer 2024 work terms.
Group photo of the Management and Economics Students' Association (MESA) celebrating at Management Orientation outside of the Instructional Centre at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
Ahnaf (far left) pictured with the Management and Economics Students’ Association (MESA) leadership team outside of the Instructional Centre, home of Management programs at the University of Toronto Scarborough.
As co-president of the Management and Economics Students' Association (MESA)—the Management Department’s designated student association overseeing the activities of more than a dozen additional clubs serving all areas of business education—Ahnaf spearheaded a series of industry field trips (including engagements with KPMG, Microsoft, Sephora, Deloitte and Fidelity) where Management students were welcomed to network and learn with employers and BBA alumni. These activations have generated incredible outcomes, including co-op work terms secured by fellow students as well as opportunities for external partners to engage in classroom-led WIL projects through The BRIDGE at U of T Scarborough.
Ahnaf pictured with his family.
Ahnaf (second from left) pictured with his family.

Next Steps

For his third co-op work term, Ahnaf will join consulting firm Kearney in summer 2024. He intends to pursue a career as a management consultant upon graduating from the Management Co-op program. Bravo, Ahnaf!

Management Awards