Schulich Finance Alumni Bios

Finance Career Guide Bios
Taha AmiralliTaha Amiralli (MBA '14)
Current Position: Senior Product Manager, Digital Banking, Scotiabank
Past Position: Product Manager, Game Consoles, AMD
1. Why did I choose to pursue a career in finance?
As an engineer, I was intrigued with how businesses decided which products to build, how they made money from those products and why customers would buy from one business versus another business. I discovered early on in my career that the capital structure of business plays a crucial role in enabling a business to operate and became increasingly fascinated with how a business is financed.

2. How did I get my first job to start my career? Describe the job.
I started my career as an engineer, focusing on game-console technologies and graphics-processing engines. As an engineer, researching, building and product development given a specific product backlog was my day to day.
My interest in how businesses operate resulted in moves toward product management where I’d help bridge the gap between internal teams, the established pipeline of product and customer need (i.e., game-console manufacturers).

3. How did I progress to my current job? Describe how that current job is.
After spending seven years at AMD, decided to formalize my understanding of business strategy and financing through an MBA at Schulich. My specializations included Finance, Strategy & Operations.
I joined the Monitor Deloitte practice to help advise clients in the financial services space on strategic and operational matters, with a finance and technology lens. To lend credibility to my advisory repertoire, I decided to join an international bank to build and run digital-banking channels (Mobile/Online banking, Digital Wallets and Digital Sales). As a change agent at a bank, my role gives me constant exposure to a number of areas at the bank, including product, risk, customers and compliance, to name a few.

4. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
Traditional or foundational training (CFA, B-School) is essentially table stakes in today’s market. Employers today look for candidates that can integrate practical experience into traditional problem solving to come up with innovative solutions to common problems.
Furthermore, a lot of value is placed on the ability to critically understand unconstrained, complex data sets and synthesize a story that connects the dots for various stakeholders, each of which has its own lens. The ability to communicate complex information in a simple, timely fashion alongside the ability to get buy-in for ideas from various stakeholders is a key differentiator.

5. Latest developments that new candidates entering the field should be aware off?
With change as the only constant in today’s world, staying abreast of advances is essential. Financial services are particularly ripe for disruption, given the relative lack of disruption compared to other sectors in the market. A few trends to dive deep into would include:
• Digital banking and its impact on a customer’s journey through a traditional provider of financial services.
• The impact of platform technologies, such as distributed ledger technologies, machine learning, artificial intelligence and the “internet of value.”
• Statistical and data analysis as well the ability to use computers to programmatically manipulate data.

100-word advice
Invest the time in discovering the balance between what you are passionate about and what your natural talent lends itself well to. The sooner you can figure out this balance, the more time you have to make the decision to close experience/skill gaps. This effort should primarily be focused on doing as this is the only sure method of truly figuring out what is involved and, more importantly, convincing others of your interest. Finally, change is the only constant in today’s world so make this discovery process a lifelong journey. It is important to dedicate time to update this career map to continuously improve and remain relevant in the marketplace.
Mandeep AnandMandeep Anand (MBA '13)
Current Position: Assistant Vice President, Commercial Associate, Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Past Position: Consulting, Corporate Banking, ICICI Bank Canada
1. Why did we choose to pursue a career in finance?

A little bit about my background before I answer this question. I completed an undergrad degree in mechanical engineering and then worked in an oil and gas consultancy firm. The reason I chose to pursue an MBA was because I knew I did not want to do what I was doing for the rest of my career. I'm sure a lot of incoming students, both local and international, have similar stories and can relate.

I came to Schulich with a very open mind for self discovery. Even though I say that, I did have a minor preference to pursue a career in consultancy, which I thought would be a good fit. But I soon realized that PowerPoint was not my strong suit, even though I truly enjoyed the analytical/problem-solving aspect of consulting.

I have no prior experience in finance or accounting and I believe I only took one minor accounting course in my undergrad. The finance core course was my first true in-class learning. I caught up very quickly to concepts in finance because I was comfortable with numbers as an engineer but what I liked even more was the strategic aspect beyond numbers (i.e., what these numbers mean and how they are incorporated in running any business and making decisions). I got the highest grade in my class and felt like I was onto something. I decided to take additional advanced courses to learn more about this subject. One of the courses I enjoyed and learned the most from was advanced corporate finance.

2. How did we get our first job to start our career? Describe how that job was.
Early on at Schulich, everyone emphasized the importance of networking. I definitely took that advice and networked with alumni and other people in the industry. I initially networked more from a perspective to learn about the different areas of finance. My initial meetings were with people from all areas of finance – IB/Corporate/Equity Research/Technology/Consulting, etc. Even though I was going into the meeting to learn, I put in a lot of effort to prepare beforehand about the person and their experience, the area of finance they work in, questions to ask, etc. I can't emphasize enough how important it is to prepare for these meetings. I often meet current students and they have no idea about the area I work in and have very generic questions.

After meeting with a lot of people in the industry, I realized that my previous experience would lend to corporate banking because I would be able to leverage my previous engineering and business experience. Also, I realized that corporate banking was an easier field to break into because, first, there are definitely more jobs in that field and, second, corporate banking lends itself well to people with diverse backgrounds. Even though there is an analytical aspect to what you do every day, there is a greater emphasis on relationship management.

I was able to get my first role through networking. My friend had interned at ICICI and put me in touch with the hiring manager, who called me for an interview. Typically, interviews can be a mix of technical and behavioural. My interview leaned more toward behavioural and less technical. The hiring manager wanted to know why I wanted to pursue this job and why I chose to do an MBA.

For most students wanting to switch careers, the biggest challenge is explaining why they are making the switch. The best way to explain that is in person. That's the reason why students have a hard time landing interviews because it’s hard to explain your story on paper and, let's be honest, very few cover letters are read. That makes me go back again to the importance of networking and telling your story in person. Every networking meeting – formal or informal – is an interview of sorts.

My key responsibilities at ICICI were:
• Credit underwriting
• Business development, including cold calling
Key skills required:
• Financial statement analysis and modelling
• Networking with other banks, advisors, clients

3. How did we progress to our current job? Describe how that current job is.
After two years at ICICI, I realized that I needed to move into a bigger organization because I wasn't learning as much as I wanted from my current job. That had to do with the smaller size and limited products offered by ICICI in Canada. I started applying for a similar role at bigger organizations and finally landed a job at Bank of America. During my interview, the key things that allowed me to differentiate myself from other candidates were:
• Given that ICICI was a smaller bank, I had a lot more responsibilities. This was a key differentiator and I believe current students (especially ones changing careers) should be open to taking jobs at smaller firms because the opportunity to learn is better.
• The fact I had done well in my previous role and I was still very keen on learning was something the hiring manager valued. Hiring managers appreciate what you've done, but value even more that you are keen on putting in the hours to learn more. There is no shame in admitting that you don't know something, but instead one should demonstrate willingness to learn.
• Everyone keeps talking about "fit" when it comes to interviews. I believe "fit" basically means can you see yourself spending nine hours a day, five days a week with your team. It comes down to: - do your personal values relate to the company's culture? Students often don't ask questions about the company's culture in interviews.
My current role is very different from what I was doing at ICICI. Firstly, because BAML is a bigger organization, I have the opportunity to learn about a lot more products we offer. Secondly, given the bigger size, it’s important to learn how to work with different groups across geographies. My key responsibilities include:
• Clients’ pitchbooks
• Credit structuring
• Prospecting
• Supporting credit risk
• Identifying cross-sell opportunities with existing clients
4. If any student approached you for a coffee, what would be good three questions that a student should ask to find out about your work.
• What soft skills do you need to succeed in your role?
• What are the key challenges in your role?
• What courses at Schulich helped you prepare best for your current role?

5. What courses or outside curriculum (i.e. Bloomberg certificate at Schulich helped to pursue your career or what you should have done to do better job in your role.
Certifications like CFA/CMA are very sought after in the industry. Financial modelling courses (marquee/IBI) are also helpful.

6. What is the industry culture that students should aware of?
The finance industry is a very close-knit industry and news travels fast. So, while networking or interviewing, students should be very professional. Even though, from the outside, it may seem that finance is very hard field to break into, my seniors keep saying that it's hard to find good talent and retain them. There is definitely a greater emphasis on "fit" and employers are looking for people with diverse backgrounds.

100-word advice
Over the last few years, the Finance industry has evolved significantly, and I believe it offers exciting and challenging opportunities for new grads. I would advise new grads to explore opportunities in Fintech in addition to traditional banking jobs. I don't foresee Fintech replacing current finance jobs completely but believe it will create a whole complementary industry requiring a different skill set than what traditional banking jobs require. Additionally, the only other advice I would like to give to current students is to give equal (if not more) importance to what you do outside class.
Diana ArsenyanDiana Arsenyan (MBA ’14)
Current Position: Senior Accountant, Assurance Services, Ernst & Young
Past Position: Biology and Neuroscience
1. Why finance? (why did you decide to pursue a career in finance?)
I pursued the MBA and CPA (audit stream) as a career-change strategy from the field of neuroscience to business. I think the CPA is a valuable designation that not only opens a number of doors, but also helps understand the finance field at a more granular level. After completion of the MBA/CPA, I applied to every possible opening starting from Big 4 accountancy firms, mid-size accounting firms as well as the industry. Capital One, which is in the financial services industry, happened to have an internal audit role at that time, which I thought would be a valuable learning opportunity and accepted the position.

2. How did you get your first job to start your career? Please describe the job as much as possible, which a job description doesn’t say but things you are willing to share. As well what did you like about the job.
A couple of months into the MBA program, I realized that I had to explore and gain better understanding of what career opportunities are available. I was very raw and did not have much knowledge in the finance field or what roles are available. I started networking and ensured that I met at least one new person every week. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of networking! I treated it as a part time job in addition to my education. I attended events organized by student clubs (even if, at first sight, it was not in my field such as the sustainability speaker series, which I still attended because a representative from RBC was a guest speaker), recruiting events, information sessions, industry-organized seminars/talks (e.g., Toronto Association for Business and Economics) and social events to have as much exposure to a variety of people as possible. I should also mention that your peers/classmates are as much part of your network as other people from the industry. Now that I had built a strong network and had an understanding of what kind of career I would like to pursue, I was ready to leverage that network and apply to jobs. I had an offer in commercial banking, internal audit (Capital One) and in health-care consulting. One CPA public accounting requirement is to complete audit hours, which could be done either at Big 4 accounting firms or the industry, hence I chose Capital One.
At Capital One I worked in an internal audit role in the Consumer Credit and Model Risk team, where I audited the internal controls and all Canadian portfolios from a credit-risk perspective to ensure the lines of business were compliant with policy. In addition, I had a process management role, where I led various projects related to credit-risk management. As part of my role, I had the opportunity to be present in meetings and discussions with the most senior executives of the company (president, CFO, CCO, VP, etc.) during which key strategic decisions were made. Throughout this experience, I gained in-depth understanding of the strategy behind structuring various products, risks associated with each offering as well as the performance of each portfolio throughout the years. As part of credit-risk management team, we also closely monitored external factors (economic, environmental, etc.) to ensure the business is prepared to mitigate any risk factors and avoid losses. Having such broad and holistic view of the organization was my favourite part of that position.

3. How did you progress to your current job? Describe how that current job is.
Capital One is a fantastic organization full of brilliant people, who contributed to my learning immensely. However, I always wanted to work in a Big 4 accounting firm as an auditor. I reached out to my network. At that time, EY was hiring auditors for their Toronto Audit Group to work on their publicly listed companies. I happened to be at the right time and the right place.
In my current role as an auditor at EY, I work on clients in various industries, including power and utility, mining, real estate, hospitality and technology. The role includes planning and designing a risk-based audit strategy, control testing including SOX, developing and completing substantive analytical procedures, implementing data analytics where possible and ensuring the accurate representation of note disclosures of financial statements. Performing audits of the financial statements of publicly listed companies provides an in-depth understanding of various industries, in addition to the company’s organization, processes, revenue model, loan structures, strategy, governance and much more. I strongly believe it is an excellent learning opportunity for anyone interested in building a successful career in finance.

4. If any student approached you for a coffee, what would be good three questions that a student should ask to find out about your work.
• What are some of the challenges facing the industry?
• What innovations are taking place in the industry and how is your company innovating/keeping up to date?
• What are some of the projects that you are working on and would like to share?

5. What courses inside or outside curriculum (i.e., Bloomberg certificate at Schulich) helped to pursue your career or what you should have done to do better job in your role?
At EY, we have developed a new data analytics program, which is implemented to deliver higher-quality audits for our clients. As I did not have prior knowledge of data analytics, I had to learn the technical aspect of it while performing audit engagements under tight deadlines. It would have been beneficial if I had better excel skills, modeling skills and prior data analytics knowledge.

6. What is the industry culture that students should be aware of?
The assurance practice is composed of high-performing individuals who are able to easily adapt to any change while delivering high-quality audits. All industries we serve are innovating rapidly which means, as auditors, we have to grasp these changes quickly to be able to serve our clients. For example, with blockchain gaining more popularity in recent years, a number of clients are entertaining the possibility of transitioning into blockchain while some have already transitioned. At EY, we developed blockchain audit methodology to be able to serve these clients. It is also imperative to note that, despite audit being numbers based and analytical, our workspace is becoming very collaborative as we mainly work at the client site in one audit room as a large group. Therefore, in addition to strong work ethics and analytical skills, one also needs to have a high emotional intelligence to build collaborative and well-functioning teams.

In addition, please try to cover the below common questions for both stream if you think it’s helpful.

What are the key performance expectation and indicators?
• Being highly efficient – meeting a deadline is not enough anymore
• Independent – you can complete your projects without asking for too much help from your colleagues or manager
• Being able to improve and innovate – you are always expected to drive positive change
• Teamwork – collaborating with various teams including teams in various geographies
• Mentoring and leading – developing talent by not only teaching the technical aspects of audit, but also by inspiring them to do their best work despite long hours
• Business development – networking within various industries to promote EY services

What is the career path and progression?
Depending how one tailors their audit career, there are valuable learning and development opportunities. An auditor in the financial services sector will have full exposure on how the financial services industry functions including banks, insurance companies and fund management companies, while an auditor working on other industries will gain in-depth understanding of each industry including valuation of certain assets (e.g., real estate) analysis of their financial statements, debt structuring, revenue generation models and much more. The audit stream provides vigorous training and exposure to understanding a company’s financial position on a granular level, which is a valuable asset in a finance career. After obtaining their CPA designation, a significant number of individuals choose to pursue careers in various areas of finance, such as corporate banking, commercial banking, investment banking, M&A, valuations, equity research and asset management to name few.

What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
Case interviews are becoming an essential part for a lot of finance roles. At Capital One we emphasized case interviews (regular consulting type case interviews) as an assessment of the individual’s analytical ability. Majority of very capable and great candidates were rejected due to not performing well during these case interviews. I would recommend to start practicing from first day of school, since it takes time to master case interview skills. Both CDC and Case Analysis Club have plenty of resources to help students hone their skills.
During the behavioural interview, interviewers want to see a genuine person who is eager to learn and grow. For junior positions, candidates are not expected to have strong technical skills, but for more senior positions (more applicable for MBAs) candidates might be expected to have strong modeling skills, SQL, and role specific skills (for example: everyone in the finance team has a CPA).

100-word advice
Start networking with an open mind. As much as you are interested in securing that next internship or full-time position, gaining an understanding of the specifics of the field, each person’s career path and why they chose that particular path could be quite valuable in helping you make your own career choices. Sometimes, unexpected opportunities come your way – take them! I never thought that I was going to work in a financial institution, but that opportunity gave me tremendous exposure and in-depth knowledge into how the industry operates, which I use today on the other side to provide better services for our clients.
Carrie ChaiCarrie Chai (MBA ’11)
Current Position: Director, Internal Ratings Management, Scotiabank
Past Position: Senior Manager, Internal Ratings Management, Scotiabank
1. Why did you choose to pursue a career in Finance?
My pre-MBA careers were in marketing & sales and general management. As I wanted to pursue an area different than my pre-MBA careers, finance became one of the few interesting areas I could identify. During the first year of my MBA, I had a few finance & accounting courses, which I found I quite enjoyed. So pursuing a career in finance was an easy decision. That said, finance is a huge area. It’s not that easy to land on a specific area that I like and that fits. I took as many finance-related courses as I could during the second MBA year and realized that finance jobs requiring strong analytical skills are good a fit for me.

2. How did you get the first job to start your career? Describe that job.
I got a part-time job then a full contract position with Scotiabank after my first MBA year through networking. It was a role in retail multicultural marketing and strategies, which is not the ideal position I was looking for that time. I took the job with an intention to get entry to the finance industry and build networks.
After graduating from the MBA program, the job market was tough just after the 2007-2009 financial crisis. Proactive job research through CDC and networking with alumni and finance professionals in a variety of events and occasions provide me a good base to assess where I fit, taking into consideration the jobs available and the competition in the market. This assessment helped me to develop a practical job search strategy. I decided to apply to as many jobs available in the market which required analytical skills, not just focusing on ideal jobs in my mind at that time. Luckily, I got quite a few interviews. For each interview, I did my homework by not only analyzing the job and its requirements, but also the bank and the people who would interview me, looking to my network for support. Fortunately, I got a few interesting opportunities and I selected the Scotiabank GRM Rotation Program.
As an associate in the rotation program, I had the opportunity to work with four different teams in Hedge Fund Market Risk, Model Validation, Commercial Credit and Corporate credit. Functions and jobs in each rotation were very different. It’s both challenging and rewarding as I have to learn and perform quickly in each rotation. The program is a great opportunity to try different roles in Finance and to assess and identify the best fit for me.

3. How did you progress to your current job? Describe your current job.
After the rotation program, I accepted the Senior Manager position with my current team, which builds credit risk rating models for the bank’s wholesale portfolio. With this team, I am able to apply both business/credit knowledge and quantitative skills to the work and I enjoy both. As the job requires expert knowledge of credit risk for different industries/geographies where the bank has exposure as well as good quantitative modelling skills, I spent a lot of extra hours to come up the steep learning curves and to deliver projects and models with high quality during my first year. I was promoted to a Director position within the team shortly after my second year.
I am currently in my fourth year as a Director. My team is responsible for building the credit rating models for the wholesale portfolio of the Bank and the new Allowance for Credit Loss Model under IFRS 9. As a Director, I am not only responsible for the technical work and projects under the team’s mandate, but also people management, which is a new dimension.

4. How did the Schulich degree (and what courses) prepare you to have a good start in your first and subsequent jobs?
Courses I took in school set the foundation for my career in Finance, which provides a good start to speed up my learning on the job. Courses I found useful include courses under the Financial Engineering Diploma program and the following general courses under the MBA:

FINE 6150 Advanced Corporate Finance
FINE 6600 Corporate Financial Analysis
FINE 6800 Options, Futures and Other Derivative Securities
FNSV 6700 Management of Risk in Canadian Financial Institutions
ACTG 6110 Intermediate Financial Accounting I
ACTG 6120 Intermediate Financial Accounting II
ECON 6210 Economic Forecasting & Analysis

5. How's the job and what makes it interesting?
My job requires constant learning and entails understanding all components of how a bank operates in the business of wholesale credit risk, from how the bank assesses credit risk at the individual borrower and portfolio level all the way up to capital management. My day-to-day job involves evaluating and understanding credit risks of borrowers and industries through researching and consulting internal and external experts, developing good rating models for different segments (e.g., industry, geography) as well as communicating and presenting models to business users and external parties, such as auditors and regulators.

An interesting career in my view has the following features:
1. Constant learning – It’s exciting to learn the dynamics of all the different industries (e.g., mining, oil & gas, utilities), how their credit risks are assessed and how we can model the assessment in the best way.
2. A knowledgeable and creative team – It’s critical to have a team with creative minds who inspire each other with innovative ideas of modelling and good understanding of the business world.
3. A flexible and encouraging environment – It’s essential to have supportive culture and management to allow me and my team to explore and implement new and better ideas and solutions.

6. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
Knowledge and skill sets required to perform well in credit risk modelling include:
- Sound business/credit knowledge, including business analysis of an industry and a company, understanding of financial statements.
- Understanding of practices and regulations about credit risk management.
- Good statistical knowledge with strong capabilities in statistical analysis and problem solving.

Key personality characteristics required to perform well include:
- Creative and open-minded for new ideas and solutions.
- Versatile and willing to learn both business knowledge and quantitative skills.
- Good at communicating technical concepts to business users.

7. What are the key performance expectations and indicators? What is the career path and progression?
Performance expectation and indicators vary depending on the level of your career path. At the entry associate or manager level, you are expected to provide supportive analysis to seasoned senior managers and directors. That said, a diligent and creative individual can excel quicker in the career path. At a senior manager level, you are expected to independently build a rating model or manage a project based on the knowledge and experience gained in the past. At a Director level, you are expected to be responsible for a few work streams and manage a team of people.

8. What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
Banks have many programs to hire fresh MBAs, such as the Scotiabank GRM Rotation Program. These programs aim to hire future leaders, different from a typical hiring where banks look for people who can perform a certain work function immediately. Banks hire candidates who have demonstrated:
(1) Leadership skills in school;
(2) Excellent academic performance to demonstrate your ability to complete a project with high quality;
(3) Ability to learn quickly and perform well.

9. Latest developments that new candidates entering the field should be aware of?
Credit risk modelling is not just modelling. Banks are looking for people who not only are good at quantitative and statistical modelling, but also have sound business credit knowledge. Candidates who have a skill mix of both business and quantitative knowledge are well positioned in many roles in Finance.

100-word advice
Finance is an industry with many positions that fit people with different skill sets and different interests. The most critical step in my view is to get entry into the industry. Once you are in, you’ll have tons of opportunities to try and work in different areas if you are a quick learner and like to challenge yourself. If you choose a career in Finance, select as many finance courses as possible and do well in each course, which will equip you better in applying to your entry job.
Richard DigioacchinoRichard Digioacchino (MBA ’03)
Current Position: Vice President, Trade Floor Risk Management, Scotiabank
Past Position: Vice President, Exposure and Capital Analysis, Scotiabank
1. Why did we choose to pursue a career in finance?
I mostly stumbled into finance. As a commerce graduate who preferred quantitative subjects to soft skills, a bank was the logical place to start a career – or so I thought. From the perspective of an undergraduate with no connections, it seemed to be a good place to build a career and make some money. I did my MBA while at Scotiabank to bolster my career prospects. For those interested in capital markets, courses that would be important for potential graduates to take are investments and derivatives.

2. How did we get our first job to start our career? Describe how that job was.
I started as a summer student at Scotiabank during undergrad. I went back full time after graduating. The job was a back-office position processing accounting and payments for derivative transactions. As the deliverables were time sensitive, I learned the importance of time management and multi-tasking.

3. How did we progress to our current job? Describe how that current job is.
Working within the bank and building relationships helped me move into new opportunities within the growing area of risk management. Having a solid network and reputation is important for those that are looking to explore different roles throughout their career.

My current job is very fast paced as it involves providing risk oversight over capital-market businesses. Aside from product and market knowledge, the position requires significant decision-making, strategic influencing, communication and collaboration skills. Developing these soft skills is imperative for anyone looking to take on roles of responsibility.

When I am hiring new staff, the first criterion is that the candidate shows a strong positive personality and demonstrates leadership potential.

It is very important that candidates can present themselves well in networking/interview settings. This shows that they understand social cues and can fit into a team workplace environment. My advice would be to focus on soft skills during networking and not try to impress recruiters with technical questions. Recruiters are looking or people who can fit in with the dynamics of their teams.
Candidates should also be honest with themselves in terms of where their interests lie. If someone is not interested in a field, it becomes readily apparent in an interview. An honest self-assessment of skills and interests is imperative to finding a good fit for employment.
Finally, candidates need to make sure they are prepared for interviews. They should research the company, department and interviewer as far as they can through publicly available information and contacts. This shows interest.
Heston D'SouzaHeston D’Souza (MBA ’15)
Current position: Relationship Manager, Corporate Banking, ICICI Bank Canada
Past position: Assistant Manager, Capital Projects, Reliance Infrastructure
1. How did we find out what our interests and strengths were and embark on the career path we have chosen?
Prior to the MBA, I had identified key professionals in finance who could help me discover which area of the industry matched my interests. Once I joined the MBA program, I searched for recent graduates who had landed roles in deals- and transactions-related finance to understand their journey. Though I am currently in such a role myself, I continue to reach out to others in the industry as I believe our career paths need continuous refinement within our existing jobs.

2. How did we prepare ourselves to get the first job in our career journey?
Coming from a non-finance background, I realized that three core skills were lacking in my candidacy – financial modeling, case analysis and (non-verbal) presentation skills. I used a combination of university courses, free online resources and case competitions to evaluate my skill level and, later, build on it. I also made a conscious effort to connect with working professionals with the aim of creating long-term working relationships. When an opportunity in corporate banking arose, it was through one of these relationships that I got recommended for the position.

3. How did our Schulich degree (and what courses) prepare us to have a good start in our first and subsequent jobs?
Honestly speaking, the courses offered at Schulich have not impacted my work. However, the rigour of research required for some of them was a good challenge. The course I enjoyed most was an independent research study in an area of great personal interest – cognitive biases in decision making. This flexibility is a great tool that should be explored by every interested MBA candidate at Schulich.

4. How's the job like and what makes the job interesting?
Corporate banking at a smaller-sized bank such as mine is equal parts relationship management and credit analysis. It is a constant tug of war between managing the expectations of clients and key internal decision makers. The part of the job that excites me the most is that there is always a new company/industry/product that I can learn about because my current role is sector agnostic.

5. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
Specific knowledge can and will be attained on the job, as is true with most work profiles. However, a clear understanding of basic financial products (corporate and retail) combined with a good foundation in financial analysis are needed to effectively service clients. There is a place for every type of personality in corporate banking, where certain roles can be predominantly outward-facing to clients and others inward-facing to portfolio management and credit.

6. What are the key performance expectation and indicators?
Including but not limited to: total loan portfolio size; interest-based income; non-interest-based fee income; avoidance of write-offs (bad loans); new clients added; cross sale of other bank products.

7. What is the career path and progression?
Vertical career path typically leads to heading the corporate-banking practice at the regional/national level. Horizontal career paths could take a person into corporate development, buy-side or sell-side advisory, asset management, private credit, etc.

8. What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
Hiring managers typically look for a good balance of interpersonal skills and core financial skills. The former is gauged by the hiring manager during casual conversations over coffee or lunch as well as during the interview process. The latter is mostly tested through a financial model, financial analysis of a case study and/or report on a particular company/industry.

9. Latest developments that new candidates entering the field should be aware of?
Technology continues to have a disruptive, but positive impact on finance, but the pace at which classic segments of the industry are being impacted has increased. New candidates will always be required to have a strong foundation in the basics of their respective fields. However, it will be immensely helpful to understand how the analysis of big data and implementation of blockchain influence their preferred profiles.

10. Any other advice you may have to students today.
Those with successful careers nearly always have a great combination of a curious mind and a dependable network of peers. In a fast-changing world, it is imperative to be up to date on the latest developments while having a pulse on the changes in industry through other professionals. Organizations are always short on leaders who can help them navigate change; this is where managers can make the greatest impact.
Conrad FernandesConrad Fernandes (MBA '15)
Current position: Associate Director, Group Risk Management Credit, Royal Bank of Canada
Past position: Associate Director, Trading Credit Risk & Collateral Management, Royal Bank of Canada
How did we find out what our interests and strengths were and embark on the career path we have chosen?

• To understand my strengths, I would write them down and review them intermittently to see how they evolve over time. Through my past work experience, there would always be some things that were easier to do in comparison to others. It is imperative not to turn away from challenges, but rather to embrace them as those are the opportunities which push our boundaries to grow further.
• Created a network of individuals who were my advisors (i.e., personal board of directors) that would vet my ideas and provide insights that could help me focus on further understanding my strengths.
• What makes you happy? You will work harder toward something if you are pursuing a career that you enjoy.

How did we prepare ourselves to get the first job in our career journey?

There were a few key elements that assisted my career journey:
• Course selection: Choosing courses during undergrad that aligned with the industry that I wanted to be in. It is not about doing every financial designation that is out there, but to focus on those that will open the right doors for you.
• Networking: It is not about just attending the events – make them meaningful with intention and purpose. Develop longer-lasting relationships that will leave a memorable impression.
• Extra-curriculars: Get involved in ways, clubs and societies that align with your interests, finance-related or not. You should be able to describe your contribution and how you are making an impact.

What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?

There is no single answer to this question, but a few thoughts come to mind:
• Adapt to your environment – The financial industry is constantly evolving and you will always be learning.
• Be a team player – Be able to work with multiple stakeholders on broader projects. Understand that you are one of many individuals working toward a common goal.
• Articulate your concerns clearly and be able to trade off on issues that are of less importance.
• Surround yourself with people who will challenge you in the right direction – You know who they are!

What are the key performance expectations and indicators?

• This is individual specific. Personally, I set annual goals that are well out of reach and have quarterly goals as check points. If I am not hitting my goals, I need to realign my expectations to get back on track.

What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?

Going beyond all the technical questions related to the theories and models:
• Articulate how your strengths apply outside business school (i.e., are you working for any local communities, non-for-profits?),
• Speak to areas of growth and interests related to the industry. Be aware of your surroundings – what is something unique that tells a hiring manager you are aware of challenges faced by companies at this moment?

Any other advice you may have to students today.

Every person has a unique value proposition to offer. It is imperative that you demonstrate a strong understanding of yourself, express the willingness to embrace change and your ability to articulate and influence individuals as a stakeholder. Moreover, whether we are taking graduate courses, participating in extra-curricular activities or even engaging in networking events, make sure you are doing them with intention and purpose.
Cindy JinCindy Jin (MBA ’17)
Current Position: Associate, Private Equity Sponsor Coverage Group, Scotiabank
Past Position: Analyst, Leveraged Finance, ORIX USA
1. How did you choose to pursue a career in Finance?
Like many others, I didn’t know what to do in undergrad so I chose accounting as a safe major. During the first two years of study, I figured that I wasn’t interested in following principles, but it certainly set a foundation of understanding businesses. I then enrolled in the finance program and took a variety of courses including corporate finance, real estate, insurance, investment banking, modeling, etc. and found myself enjoying company evaluation very much. I felt that finance was more challenging given different company structures, operations and industries. As such, I had a continuous interest in building models and evaluating companies so that I decided to pursue a career in finance in a relevant field.

2. How did you get the first job to start your career? Describe that job.
When I was in undergrad, I participated in the school’s consulting firm (similar to YCG) and worked well with our advisor who possessed intensive industry experiences and professional networks. He was satisfied with my contribution to the project and referred me to one of his connections to arrange an interview at ORIX USA, a diversified financial service company. After securing a position, I spent first three months rotating through different teams including Leveraged Finance, Alternative Investment and Private Equity. Although there was not so much company evaluation in Leveraged Finance, I was exposed to the leverage buyout structure from a lending perspective as well as underwriting deals with both qualitative and quantitative skills. Subsequently, I expressed my interest in Leveraged Finance and landed my full-time job as an analyst.

As an analyst, I was responsible for conducting financial models including LBO and comparable company analysis, company overview, competitive landscape and industry outlook analysis for prospective borrowers in the middle market. I also assisted in due diligence, prepared memorandum and provided recommendations for internal discussion.

3. How did you progress to your current job? Describe your current job.
I landed my current job at Scotiabank shortly after I graduated from the Schulich MBA. Because of my prior experience and interest in lending as well as the awareness of the limited size of finance industry in Canada, in addition to targeting only commercial banking/corporate banking in major banks, I also looked into boutique financial advisory firms. As an international student, I started networking on my first day of the MBA program to put my name out there. Upon graduation, I found the posting of my current role online and reached out to an HR person at Scotiabank that I encountered at an event and expressed my interest. I also sent my application directly to the hiring manager and, luckily, received an interview opportunity and eventually secured a full-time position as an Associate with the Private Equity Sponsor Coverage Group.
The job function was similar to my prior experience in terms of underwriting transactions. However, now I’m more involved in both early stages and later stages such as preliminary screening of a deal, issuing discussion paper, negotiation, documentation and execution. Since Scotiabank is a bigger organization than ORIX, different departments are involved during different stages, so I also need to support my managers in coordinating with each team to make the processes more efficient.

4. How did your Schulich degree (and what course) prepare you to have a good start in your job?
Schulich provided a meaningful networking platform for students to bridge the gaps with industry professionals and recruiters. Schulich alumni are also very supportive in sharing their experiences, referring to potential positions and giving any advice, which I found very helpful. For my field, since we work closely with private-equity sponsors, I found the Venture Capital and Private Equity course very useful in providing a background in how these structures operate. Corporate Finance is useful for company valuation. If you are interested in working in a bank, Risk Management sheds some light on the risk procedures and systems within banks, including attending presentations from CROs at different financial institutions.

5. What makes the job interesting? What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
The most interesting aspect of my job is that every transaction is structured differently, which requires intensive internal and external discussion, negotiation and client relationship management. Although as a junior-level associate, I don’t participate in the discussion directly, by sitting in conference calls and management meetings, it allows me to observe and learn from my managers/directors in the process.

It’s important that you think critically instead of taking face value as presented. It requires you to be detail oriented and ask as many questions as you need to understand the credit better and more comprehensively. Technical and writing skills are essential for junior-level positions so that you are able to build financial models, draw conclusions from them and tell a fulsome story about a transaction.

6. What are the key performance expectation and indicators? What is the career path and progression?
As an Associate, you are expected to be accountable, curious and results focused. Your managers should be able to rely on your work, which requires minimal review. It is an on-the-job learning process as you work on more deals and become familiar with the bank’s internal procedures. In our group, you work closely with Associate Directors in underwriting and support work and are expected to work three to five years before being promoted to Associate Director and then another three to five years before stepping up to Director of Sales. Associate Directors are responsible for deal underwriting and work closely with Directors for execution. Directors of Sales are responsible for deal origination, execution and client-relationship management with both private-equity sponsors and business owners/management teams.

In other commercial groups, you might start as an analyst in either credit or the sales side and progress along that route depending on your skillsets/interests as well as the structure of the group.

7. What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
Previous lending experiences are “good to have” items rather than “must have.” However, general understanding of the lending structure is essential to carry a meaningful conversation/discussion during an interview. It’s not a surprise to have a case assessment for commercial banking interviews that interviewers need to make sure what you say aligns with what you can do to test your technical skills. It’s important to be detail oriented, results focused and mindful of time so that, when time is a constraint, you are able to prioritize tasks and not at an expense of accuracy. Interviewers also look for a candidate who is willing to step up with additional responsibilities beyond their job description.

100-word advice
There is no shortcut in finding the most ideal job and there is no such thing as a “right” role. If you are not sure what to do, reach out and talk to as many people as possible in the industry to learn about their job functions/required skill sets and do not limit yourself in one field. Do not ever say “Anything. I just want to work in a bank.” It is your responsibility to figure out where your interests and strengths are before anyone else can help you. Be proactive and always be prepared to tell a story that’s consistent with your knowledge, skill sets, interests and passion.
Valeriya KolobashkinaValeriya Kolobashkina (MF ’14)
Current Position: Senior Manager, Exposure and Capital Analytics, Global Risk Management, Scotiabank
Past Position: Manager, Exposure and Capital Analytics, Scotiabank
1. Why did we choose to pursue a career in finance?
I was lucky to choose my career in finance at a very young age and never looked back. I always enjoyed solving problems and was good at math and engineering. In high school, I learned about economic models and was fascinated by how math can be applied in the real world to describe and forecast economic events, which prompted me to do my undergrad in Economics. In my undergrad, I fell in love with courses in corporate finance, investments and risk management, and a career in finance was an obvious and natural choice. During my school years, I learned about risk management and hedging strategies and the ways they can be applied to change risk exposures of businesses to factors such as exchange rates, interest rates, commodity prices, etc. I liked analyzing businesses and trying to understand their potential risks and come up with a combination of financial instruments that could optimally hedge those exposures and help the businesses become more competitive. This is how I got interested in risk management.

Moving to Canada, I wanted to continue my education in finance and joined the Master of Finance program at Schulich. The program offered a great curriculum full of technical and very practical courses in different areas of finance. During one year at Schulich, I learned about investment banking, private equity, asset management, equity research, risk management and many other fields, not to mention how much I learned about the Toronto financial market and the whole culture of networking, which was new to me at the beginning. Although courses like Financial Risk Management, Fixed Income and Derivatives were the most useful for my current job, understanding other areas definitely gave me a great advantage when networking with other industry professionals and building strategic relationships.

2. How did we get our first job to start our career? Describe how that job was.
The main challenge after graduation was not to find an area I can be good at, but to choose a career I would enjoy the most among the wide range of potential options. Being a quantitative person and a controller at heart, I decided to start my career in risk management, which is a growing area that has become a major focus of all financial institutions. I saw risk management as an area where I could leverage my skills and be the most competitive, since I not only had a strong knowledge of financial markets and products but also understood the models behind them.
Realizing how competitive the Toronto job market is, I did a lot of research about various areas of risk management, attended related networking events (held by PRIMIA and GARP) and browsed through a lot of job descriptions trying to get more familiar with the job functions and requirements. A job opportunity came with an information session held by Scotiabank for the rotational program in risk management, which sounded exactly like what I was looking for. I went to the event and had a few engaging conversations with representatives from different risk management teams, which helped me get selected for an interview. I think I got the job because I knew what I was getting into, was prepared and passionate about the job and I did my best to be myself during the interview – confident, funny and relaxed.
A rotational program involved three very different areas – from a project-based model development in retail credit risk, to more fast-pace stress testing and market risk. The main challenge was to learn quickly and adapt to very different job functions and team dynamics and try to make a small contribution during the short four months with the team. An obvious benefit to being a part of a rotational program was great exposure to various risk areas and the opportunity to meet a lot of people and establish my network at the bank.

3. How did we progress to our current job? Describe how that current job is.
My current job is in market risk in the Exposure and Capital Analytics group at Scotiabank, which was my last rotation and a natural transition from the rotational program into a full-time role. I chose the job because of how much exposure the job gives and a fantastic team environment, which encourages professional growth and development. The job in market risk is very dynamic – it is often hard to get things done because of the amount of information that flows through my inbox every day.
I have quickly progressed in my role and was promoted to Senior Manager within a year, thanks to my hard work, curiosity and demonstrated leadership skills. In my current role, I am managing a team responsible for daily risk reporting and analytics for Scotiabank’s trading business, which includes equity derivatives, fixed income, commodities and others. I am also coordinating a high-profile technology project, working closely with IT to build a new market-risk analytical platform.
To be successful at this job, you need to understand financial markets and derivative products, excel at multitasking and prioritizing and possess outstanding communication skills. You have to process and analyze large amounts of information and come up with insightful conclusions. You need to have strong project-coordination skills and work effectively in a team. Overall, it is a great job with continuous learning, which helps me apply the technical skills and knowledge I acquired at school and strengthen my communication and project management skills. It is also a great job in terms of career-development opportunities due to how much interaction it involves with other teams at the bank, including Sales & Trading, Trade Floor Risk Management, Group Treasury, auditors and regulators as well as IT support teams.

100-word advice
While at school or on the job, do not be afraid to raise your hand and take on more responsibilities – this is how you get valuable experience and improve your self-awareness and understanding of what you like and where you want to move next. Be vocal and let people around know what you are passionate about and how much you have done to get prepared for the job – you never know where an opportunity may come from. Be yourself – we are all humans and work in teams, no matter how many acronyms follow our names. You are selected for an interview based on your skills and experience, but are offered a job based on your personality.
Rick KotickRick Kotick (MBA ’06)
Current Position: Head, Competitive Intelligence & Sales Enablement, RBC Global Asset Management
Past Position: Senior Analyst, Competitive Intelligence, RBC Asset Management
1. Why did I choose to pursue a career in finance?

In high school and through my undergraduate degree, I was always most interested in learning about how businesses operate – what product or service they provide, how they make money from it and how they build their brand. As I progressed in my education, I became increasingly fascinated with how one values such companies and how investors could profit from the success of a good business. This naturally led to my wanting to learn more about the dynamics of the stock market.
Once I knew where my interests lay, I tried to ask myself honestly if I had the strengths and characteristics to pursue a career in finance. I asked teachers/professors and the parents of my friends who were already in the industry what skills were necessary to thrive. I was told that you needed to be objective, have an analytical mind and be a good communicator. A healthy dose of curiosity helps, too!
You don’t necessarily have to possess all of these skills right away and I know I didn’t. So the courses I chose to take in my undergraduate and MBA programs were the ones that could complement my interests and teach me the skills that I was seeking. Some of my favourite Schulich courses included:
• FINE 6200 – Investments
• FINE 6100 – Financial Management
• ORGS 5100 – Organizational Behaviour
• MKTG 6300 – Service Marketing
• FNSV 6970 – Competitive & Organizational Strategies for Financial Services Firms

2. How did I get my first job to start my career? Describe the job.

My first job out of undergrad was working as a stock broker’s assistant at CIBC Wood Gundy. The term “stock broker” is a bit of a dinosaur term now – they are referred to as Investment Advisors these days. Anyway, it was not a glorious job by any means. I was getting paid $24,000/year (and no, it wasn’t that long ago) and I was doing things such as photocopying, filing, matching trade tickets to trade confirmations as well as filling out account set-up forms and account-transfer forms for my broker.

My older brother’s friend was a stock broker and, as his client list grew, he needed an assistant for the administrative work. That’s how I got the interview and, with my undergrad in business, the broker assumed I would pick things up quickly. I refer to that job as how I cut my teeth in the industry. It wasn’t a dream job, but it was an absolutely great way to learn the ins and outs of the investment industry from a broker/client perspective.

One thing I was told by family and friends was to ask a lot of questions. Be curious. People mostly enjoy talking about themselves and I’ve found they are usually open to answering any questions you have as long as you’re respectful of their time and let them know in advance what you want to talk about.

I would set up meetings, coffee dates, information interviews, etc. and ask the most basic questions to start. As my knowledge increased, I asked more advanced questions and always ended these meetings with a thank you and an offer to be of help in any way possible. Meetings are a two-way street and you have to give if you want to receive. People were generally very appreciative of this gesture and, not only did I learn a lot, I slowly started to expand my network of colleagues and possible future mentors.

3. How did I progress to my current job? Describe how that current job is.

After spending a year as a broker’s assistant, I was given the opportunity to run my own book of client business as a Financial Advisor with CIBC. I did that for five years before heading off to Schulich to pursue my MBA full-time. I knew there was a wider world of finance that I wanted to become more familiar with and I was confident that an MBA at Schulich would give me not only the breadth of courses I was looking for, but the opportunity to build on my knowledge base and work experience. I came to RBC Global Asset Management (RBC GAM) in June 2009 after spending a few years doing consulting work in trade finance.

RBC GAM is Canada’s biggest asset manager and, while it did some research on competitors,, it didn’t have any resources dedicated to competitive intelligence full time. Once RBC GAM decided to create such a position, I was able to position my previous work experience with clients, my Schulich education and my consulting experience as the perfect combination for the role.

Today, I’m the head of the six-member competitive intelligence team at RBC GAM. My role includes:
• Conducting research on competitor firms and products in the Canadian mutual fund and ETF industries.
• Speaking at internal sales conferences and industry events on trends and flows in the investment funds industry.
• Producing regular reports on a wide range of competitor activities.
• Providing materials tailored to advisors and branch personnel to support sales efforts.
• Coaching sales teams on the ever-changing landscape of investment products.

Our industry is so dynamic and it’s true the only constant is change. With change comes immense opportunity and no two days are ever the same for me. My role gives me constant exposure to advisors in client-facing roles, head-office staff as well as to those that support sales teams. My role has impact and influence, which is extremely important to me. Timely competitive intelligence benefits:

RBC GAM – by providing insight on sales trends as we position ourselves to offer new and innovative products.
Front-line sales staff – to retain and grow business from existing clients.
RBC Clients – to build trust and confidence in their advisors.

4. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?

A solid foundation in basic finance is a must. In addition, a CFA and/or an MBA are table stakes these days. Everyone has one or both. But, when I look for candidates to add to our team, technical skills don’t tell the whole story. What is valued most in our industry is the ability to communicate effectively, both orally and in the written word. Can you synthesize complex information and communicate it in a simple way? Can you do so in a timely fashion? Can you speak persuasively, get people to buy in to your ideas? Can you write concisely, without unnecessary jargon?
If the answer is yes to these questions, you’ll find yourself way ahead of those candidates that rely solely on their technical skills. I believe most people can be taught the technical stuff, but the softer skills are more difficult to master and more highly sought after by employers.

5. Latest developments that new candidates entering the field should be aware off?
If you’re seriously considering a career in the asset management industry, you absolutely must stay on top of the latest developments. Our industry moves fast on a bad day, but we’re going through a sea-change of events currently and any employer you speak to will be impressed if you understand:
• The burgeoning popularity of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Why are they popular? How are they used in retail and institutional portfolios? What effect, if any, will this have on mutual fund sales? Where are the next opportunities for ETFs to penetrate?
• The impact and future implications of blockchain technology and AI as a disruptor in financial services.
• How can we collect, organize and optimize the use of big data in our industry? Knowing how to automate data reporting and the ability to use coding skills is becoming increasingly vital in our industry.

100-word advice

Follow your passion and your career will never feel like work. Realize that, no matter how much you know, there is always more to learn. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, even the most basic ones. No one will ever fault you for asking questions, asking for guidance or suggestions on how to proceed.
Work hard to improve your soft skills; these are the true differentiators in your job search. The ability to communicate with confidence in a concise manner is something that will always be in demand. I wish you the best of luck in your career path and remember that fellow Schulich alumni are here to help!
Meggie LeeMeggie Lee (IMBA ’12)
Current Position: Senior Analyst, Statutory Transfer Pricing, Royal Bank of Canada
Past Position: Transfer Pricing Analyst, McCain Foods Limited
There are multiple ways to get your dream job. If the straightway does not work now, try different ways! If you think of changing your career, understand what you are getting into and how your past experiences can be transferrable. Networking will be a great help to understand your situation and where you are lacking. Remember that you do have transferrable skills to perform in a new job. Try to put together your story – what you have done and why your past experiences can bring new ideas to the team. Trust yourself! Good luck!
Tej kumar MehtaTej kumar Mehta (MBA ’12)
Current Position: Client Manager, Global Banking & Markets, HSBC Bank Canada
Past Position: Assistant Relationship Manager, Corporate & Investment Banking, ICICI Bank Canada
1. Finance Background and Current role:
I joined Deutsche Bank (DB) straight after university. While I studied Computer Science Engineering, I found myself working with the Private Client Asset Management team at DB where I assisted the bank in extending personal credit instruments to the bank’s private clients around mid-2008. Post Lehman Brothers (post-September 2008), the group was restructured and I started working with the Commercial Banking unit. It was here that I got exposure to commercial clients or small or medium-sized enterprises. I then got an opportunity to work with HSBC Commercial Banking for three years, which was my last role before I moved to Toronto to join Schulich. After Schulich, I worked with a small foreign bank (asset book of approximately CAD 5.6 billion) for a few years where I largely worked as an Associate within the Corporate & Investment Banking team. This led to my current role with HSBC Global Banking & Markets where I support the bank in covering Canadian pension funds, insurance companies and public-sector clients.

2. Three Questions:
Should a student approach me for coffee, the what, the how and the why about my role are the three questions they should ask. What is my role, how does it align with the overall group strategy, and why am I doing it?

3. Beyond the Finance courses:
Personally, sustainability has been a topic that stood out on my resume. I joined Schulich for its strong Sustainability program. I had started my career in 2008, amid a storm, and felt that sustainable business practices within banking would remain a focus area for future leadership roles that I would like to take. This has been a differentiating factor on my resume and has encouraged healthy discussions with senior management during interviews.

4. Industry:
The Capital Markets industry is well documented for its lifestyle. Of late, while the rigour has continued, there has been increased regulatory pressure, which is redefining the industry culture. I find more and more banks investing in their compliance programs and this has started to effect a change in the industry culture to a more risk-averse culture.

5. General Questions:
The Vault guide and other such documents cover these questions really well and I would point students to those guides.
Here is the link: Customized for Jason (, Practice Makes Perfect.
This book is designed to supplement the Vault Guide to Finance Interviews.

100-word advice
At school, you will have tons of opportunities to do many things. The key to choosing the right things is very simple. Focus on your long-term priorities and then ask yourself if the option in front of you will make sense five years down the line. Do this two to three times to be sure – you will know what you have to do. Be focused.
Having said that, pick up a hobby and go nuts! Add this hobby to your resume; make sure it is a differentiator. In case it helps, I picked up long-distance running. You can choose to pick up beer tasting (better be a champion at it). Doing this brings out your character. The street likes this – everyone has an MBA, CFA, etc. Character is unique and if you can align it with the position for which you are applying, you will have arrived
Greg PauGregory Pau (BBA ’88, MBA ’89)
Current Position: Lecturer in Finance, Schulich School of Business
Past Position: Senior Vice President, Corporate Ratings, DBRS Limited
1. Why did I choose to pursue a career in finance?
Periodic evaluation of what subject matters I enjoy most and how effectively I learn and apply the knowledge in real-life situations has been a very useful way of discovering my interests and strengths. Since high school, I have found myself attracted to and good at subject matters that involve logical thinking with strong causal relations (non-business subjects such as physics, computer science, meteorology and mathematics, and business subjects such as finance, accounting, quantitative analysis and economics). When I started my undergraduate program, I was choosing between business or computer science, both of which I found interesting, but opted for business, a field that I thought would not be as exposed to technological advancement and obsolescence.
Among the core courses at Schulich’s BBA program, it became clear that I could do very well in subjects and concepts that are logical and have clear causal relationships between them, particularly in the areas of finance, accounting, economics and quantitative analysis. My reading speed and ability to connect and apply concepts in these subjects were way stronger than in other subjects such as marketing, organizational behaviour, strategy and policies. In some ways, it was a process of elimination.
I chose finance because I find the subject interesting and this is a field where my strengths in logical thinking and numeric skills should help me compete well. Once I understood my strengths and interests, my objective in business education was to develop my competitive advantages so that I can perform to my strengths in my career, to the extent possible.

2. How did I get my first job to start our career? Describe how that job was.
Getting an internship or co-op position in one of the focused areas that a student is interested in and feels he or she has good ability and aptitude to learn is often an important and useful step toward career orientation. That’s what happened to me. In the summer before my final year in the BBA, I applied and was offered a summer internship position in the Credit Risk Management Department (CRMD) at Citibank, which was instrumental in my career orientation. Having completed an assigned project in developing a credit scoring model, I understood clearly that my relative strengths of being logical and numeric are particularly suited to a credit-risk analytical position and career path. Citibank apparently was happy with the job done and I returned to the final year of my BBA with an offer to return for a permanent management associate position in CRMD after graduation. Therefore, once the summer internship opportunity led me to understand that the credit-risk management area suits my strengths and interests, my learning process in the remainder of my business education, subsequent on-the-job training and career progression became focused. I essentially did not look back.
I understand that, as recovery in the job markets today is still fragile, it may not be as easy to find similar summer internship opportunities. Proactive research on the job types available (through discussion with CDC and alumni in the targeted areas, networking with professionals in targeted areas and internet search), thorough research on potential employers and job descriptions and emphasizing relevant experience and education in resumes before applying are very important to distinguish oneself from competing candidates.
In my first job, I would spend my days in CRMD providing financial analysis and modelling support and basic industry research to more seasoned credit analysts and performing relatively simple credit analyses. I also underwent regular training sessions on credit-risk policies, analytical tools, banking products and practices from time to time.

3. How did I progress to my current job? Describe how that current job is.
My career progression in the credit-risk profession involves continuous learning and applications on the job regarding credit-risk issues in relation to different Banking Segments (e.g., corporate banking, investment banking, commercial banking and retail banking), Geographic Regions (e.g., region-specific credit issues, legal, accounting and regulatory frameworks) and Industry Segments. In each of these segments, I had to learn over time (1) the various credit products and exposure involved, (2) key success factors affecting customers’ ability and willingness to honour their financial obligations and (3) how my firms’ interests and investments can be protected by contractual terms and under the relevant legal frameworks.
Through experience and knowledge acquired, I was able to progress when opportunities arose, advancing my career through different areas of credit risk (credit analysis, adjudication, risk management and ratings) and in different countries (Hong Kong, Singapore and Canada). While it was not in my plan, I realize in hindsight that my career moves (either transferring to a new location or advancing to a new position) worked best when my current skills and knowledge allowed me to perform approximately 70% of the requirements in the new job. This gave me the chance to immediately perform well in the new job while giving me time to learn the remaining 30%.
Until I retired last year, I was a Senior Vice President in Corporate Ratings at DBRS Limited. My job involved having primary analyst responsibility to ensure accurate credit ratings and publishing of rating reports of good quality for a portfolio of 15 to 20 credit ratings. In addition, I made rating decisions as a member of rating committees, produced periodic analytical research, responded and clarified queries on rating approaches by investors, participated in projects to improve overall rating and report quality and provided advice to management on major credit issues.

4. How did our Schulich degree (and what courses) prepare us to have a good start in our first and subsequent jobs?
Courses I took at Schulich were by themselves not sufficient to place me in a position to immediately perform in my first permanent job at Citibank and there was much to be learned. Yet, they have been instrumental in providing me the basic skills and foundation to facilitate the learning process and acquire the skills required to perform credit-risk analysis. Therefore, it is important for graduates to retain the eagerness to learn on the job and try to learn effectively.

The courses I consider useful for providing a good foundation for learning on a credit risk-related job are:

FINE 6200: Investments
FINE 6150: Advanced Corporate Finance
FINE 6100: Financial Management
FINE 6400: International Financial Management
FINE 6600: Corporate Financial Analysis
FINE 6800: Options, Futures and Other Derivatives Securities
FNSV 6700: Management of Risk in Canadian Financial Institutions
FNSV 6775: International Credit: Markets and Metrics
ACTG 5100: Financial Accounting for Managers
ACTG 6110/6120: Intermediate Financial Accounting I / II
ACTG 6130: Intermediate Financial Accounting for Finance Majors
ECON 6210: Economic Forecasting & Analysis
MFIN 5100: Capital Markets
MFIN 5400: Fixed Income Securities
MFIN 5800: Financial Risk Management

FINE 3100: Financial Management
FINE 3200: Investments
FINE 4150: Advanced Corporate Finance
FINE 4100: Financial Management
FINE 3810: Fixed Income Fundamentals
FINE 4400: International Financial Management
FINE 4700: Management of Canadian Financial Institutions
FINE 4800: Options, Futures and Other Derivatives Securities
ACTG 2010/2011: Introduction to Financial Accounting I / II
ACTG 3110/3120: Intermediate Financial Accounting I / II
ECON 2000: Applied Macroeconomics
ECON 3200: Economies of Business Management
ECON 3510: Applied International Economics
ECON 4210: Economic Forecasting & Analysis

5. How's the job like and what makes the job interesting?
The job required evaluating and understanding risks, presenting my recommendation or decision to internal parties (like credit committee in banks) or external parties (like readers of rating reports) and proactively designing protection and mitigants for the risk exposure. It involved both internal research and discussion with borrowers’ management and other industry experts.

What makes a career in credit risk management and analysis interesting are:
i. I never stop learning. Since every borrower is different (operating in different industries, countries and scale) and the risk exposure of each banking product is also different, there are always new things to learn through research and discussion with colleagues and professionals in the markets.
ii. The job involved continuous problem solving. Every credit analysis involves reviewing lots of information, understanding where the risks are and deciding if and how the risks should be taken and mitigated. Sometimes, I compared my job to that of a detective and the satisfaction of solving the problem is great.
iii. Teamwork is essential. I needed to keep a logical, but open mind because no matter how knowledgeable I am, other colleagues may have more updated information or alternative insights that could be important to the analysis.

6. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
Knowledge and skill sets required to perform well in credit-risk management include:
- Understanding of accounting principles as a user of financials statements.
- Financial forecasting and modeling skills, with particular focus on cash flow analysis.
- Business analysis, including industry, company management and operations, competition, customers and enterprise risks.
- Continuous updating on banking and financial products and the risks involved in them.
- Understanding relevant contractual laws, insolvency and security enforcement regimes.

Key personality characteristics required to perform well include:
- Very high level of professional integrity and ethics.
- Logical, numeric and able to interpret economic reality from financial information.
- Ability to scope and distinguish factors that are crucial versus those that are not.
- Thorough and details-oriented.
- Inquisitive and willing to go in depth to uncover the relevant issues.
- Team player and ability to evaluate others input and make his/her own judgement.

7. What are the key performance expectations and indicators? What is the career path and progression?
Performance expectations and indicators vary depending on the experience and levels in one’s career path as well as the employer’s corporate culture. At entry level (e.g., first one or two years), an incumbent is expected to be diligent in providing support to more seasoned analysts and learn fast about performing credit-risk analysis. At mid-career level (e.g., years three to ten), an analyst could be expected to focus on analyzing companies in particular industry segments, countries or risks related to specific banking/financial products. In the process, the analyst could be asked to broaden the coverage (into more segments, countries or products) once he or she has gained proficiency and shown performance in current coverage. At a more senior level (e.g., after ten years), the analyst could be given credit authority and become part of the credit-adjudication process. At that level, it is possible that he or she could be responsible for a team of analysts and have more regular working relations directly with other non-credit managers (e.g., business development, product specialists, internal operations, etc.).

8. What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
Employers of entry-level positions invest in entry-level employees by providing training, and it takes some time before the employee becomes fully functional. Therefore, in my view, employers would prefer candidates who (1) have the attitude and foundation to learn efficiently and effectively, (2) have the intention to stay focused on performance after they become fully functional and (3) are capable of working effectively in teams and with other non-credit managers.

While networking could help a candidate in the vetting process, in most cases, he or she still have to apply for the job through sending in resumes. I believe that it is important for the candidate to review the job description in detail and highlight in his/her resume the previous experiences and/or education (courses) that are relevant to the job. In addition, I would suggest the candidate express in the resume or accompanying letter his/her intention to remain focused in developing a career in the field concerned after he/she gains proficiency on the job.

9. Latest developments that new candidates entering the field should be aware of?
Credit-risk management is increasingly integrated with other risk-management practices within a bank (e.g., market risk, operation risk, legal risk) under Group Risk Management (GRM). In recent years, many banks have started graduate rotation program within GRM. In addition, financial products are becoming increasingly complex and involving multiple risk elements. Candidates looking for a credit-risk management position will need to be familiar with the interaction between these various risk areas and how these risk management practices interact with one another.

100-word advice
Follow your heart and mind when selecting your career path because you will learn fast and perform best on the career that suits your strengths and interests. If you choose a focused career in Finance, select your courses wisely to build your foundation to learn and seek internship opportunities. Evaluate job descriptions and highlight your relevant experiences to the job requirements in your resume before applying. Once you get your first job, keep absorbing knowledge like a sponge and be proactive in applying what you learn. All the best to your studies and good luck in your job search.
Raj RayRaj Ray (MBA ’09)
Current Position: Vice President, Precious Metals & Mining, Desjardins Securities
Past Position: Vice President, Precious Metals & Mining, National Bank Financial
My foray into the world of finance was a process of self-discovery and realization of where my strengths and interests lay. It will not be wrong to admit that Finance chose me rather than the other way around. Coming from an engineering background, numbers weren’t exactly my problem, but lack of exposure to other career options was. I worked for four years as a process engineer in India before deciding to do my MBA at the Schulich School of Business. Although, looking back, I think that was the one of the best decisions I ever made in my career, the beginning wasn’t always as smooth as I would have liked it to be.
Career counselors often say that, going into an MBA program, it is good to have some idea about the future career one intends to pursue. While I think that this definitely is sage advice, the fact is some of us do not have adequate information and exposure to choose one or the other career options in the first term of the MBA. Now, the positive side of not knowing what career to pursue is that one ends up taking every course with an open mind. That’s exactly what happened to me. I had some great professors for my organizational behaviour, marketing, strategy and operational management courses and I think they too had a significant contribution in my career progress to date, but the subjects that interested me the most were accounting, finance, economics and quantitative analysis. I realized that my skill level and aptitude was more suited toward courses that required logical thinking and numerical skills and that is also where I had a competitive advantage.
While choosing a career in finance, the second question that often befuddles students is, “What in finance?” because finance is a vast field. Fortunately for me, this wasn’t a difficult decision to make as, along with my newfound interest in the world of finance, I also wanted to work closely with the mining and commodities industry as that was my expertise. Here, I want to make an important point about the significance of having a strategy to market oneself effectively, especially given the scores of finance professionals in Toronto. While having good grades in my finance courses along with completion of CFA Level II showed my aptitude and interest in finance to potential recruiters, I also strongly highlighted my industry knowledge of metals & mining in my job applications and during interviews. In equity research in particular, analysts tend to focus on one particular sector; therefore, showcasing one's knowledge and interest of a certain industry (e.g., consumer discretionary, health care, energy, automobiles and heavy industries, financial services or real estate) can also be a successful mantra for landing that first interview.
Often times, I meet with current and potential students looking for career advice and the three things that I always stress are that landing your first interview or job in finance (especially for students who do not come from a finance background) requires preparation, perseverance and patience. I graduated in the winter of 2008 right in the midst of a global meltdown in financial markets and it took me a while to land my first job. However, it made me do two important things: (1) I knew that I needed extensive preparation so that if an opportunity came along, I did not miss it and (2) cast my net wide enough so that I did not miss out on a potential opening. For the first point I mentioned above, I regularly kept abreast with events in my sector (i.e., metals & mining). I also prepared a few brief equity-research reports and had a small virtual portfolio of metals & mining stocks that I tracked. Equipped with this, I would then reach out to every single equity-research analyst in my sector. The one important aspect of potential job openings in capital markets in Canada, and this relates to the second point I made above, is that a number of them do not get advertised in the right channels for a new student to be aware of it. Beyond the five big banks, there are a number of small boutique brokerages, so just prepare a list of all the analysts who cover your preferred sector/industry and reach out for informational interviews. But, as I mentioned above, when you do get an opportunity to meet someone, don't just show up with your resume. Bring your work along because that differentiates you from every other student who is looking for a job in equity research.
In terms of what recruiters are looking for when hiring potential candidates for an associate position in equity research, a strong interest and a passion for equity markets is valued. In addition, sound knowledge of a particular sector/industry is considered a positive. However, having a strong interest in stock markets and knowledge of a particular sector doesn’t mean much if you are not able to back it up with demonstrable skills in accounting, financial modelling, valuation, writing and excel.
The process and skill requirement that I described above also works for students looking for jobs in investment banking, although there tends to be not much of a sector/industry focus when recruiters are looking for potential candidates. Also in terms of interest, students looking for more of a transactional experience (i.e., M&A, equity/debt financings, etc.) tend to go into investment banking compared to equity research. Nevertheless, the skills are transferable, and I have seen a number of finance professionals, including myself, making the switch from one to other.
My first job in finance was in investment banking working with the mining team at Dundee Capital Markets. While I liked the transactional aspect of investment banking, my decision to switch to equity research was based on a relatively better work-life balance and opportunity to do more in-depth work on the metals & mining sector and individual companies.
The organizational structure in equity research is much flatter and involves typically two main levels – Associate and Research Analyst. The Research Analyst is the senior person. The entry level is the Associate position, which typically requires one to write industry- and company-specific reports, build and maintain financial models, prepare marketing presentations for the Analyst and occasionally go on site visits if the Analyst is unable to go. A successful Associate in equity research needs to have tenacity, motivation and attention to detail because some of the work can be repetitive and involve long hours, especially during reporting season. The tenure of an Associate varies, and career progression depends on: (1) Associate`s skill level and (2) potential vacancies at the Analyst level. I worked as an associate for 2.5 years before I got the opportunity to go on to the next level due to the departure of the Analyst I was working with.
I am currently working as an Analyst, Metals & Mining at Desjardins Securities. My job entails covering public companies within the Metals & Mining sector and making investment recommendations. Equity research is an important part of the brokerage business, working in conjunction with sales & trading to generate trading fees and commissions for the bank. One of my primary objectives is to generate executable investment and trading ideas and get institutional investors (e.g., asset management firms, pension funds, family office funds, etc.) to make their trades through the bank where I work. In coming up with my investment ideas, I take inputs from a variety of online resources, interview company and industry sources, visit various mining operations around the world and pair it with my own knowledge and understanding of the sector and companies.
As far as daily routine, when it's not reporting season, I usually get into the office around 6:45 AM and scour for any news stories that might affect my companies. The research, sales & trading morning meeting starts at 7:15 AM and I will make a brief comment in the meeting if there is any actionable trading idea involving my companies. After that, it's time to jump into longer-term projects, topical reports or initiation reports. Throughout the day, there are emails, phone calls and news events that may require quick analysis and write-up. I may be on the phone with a client who has a question about my model or who wants to know about my recommendation on a company that we cover or our take on a recent news event. In addition, when any regulatory filings are released or there are company news releases, it may mean a formal note needs to be published and sent out to all clients which means I'll need to draft that. If this happens after the market closes, it could mean a late night. On a normal day, though, I leave at about 6:00 PM.
During earnings season (two to three weeks every three months), the hours get longer, usually from 6:45AM to 10:00 PM and may also involve work on the weekends. Each company reports and holds a conference call, so we update the models and write a report on each company.
Despite some degree of repetitiveness, what makes a career in equity research interesting is the opportunity to continue learning. Every company is different in certain aspects, although they might be mining the same commodity. I keep learning about new mining technologies, regulatory structures, environmental policies and, last but not the least, various political regimes given that the companies I cover have assets in various countries around the world. In addition, I get to interact with top management of various companies on a regular basis, which gives me great insight into the different management styles and strategies. Occasionally, I also do get to travel around the world visiting different mines. In addition, equity research provides me with an excellent platform to establish my network across various disciplines in the metals & mining industry and geographies.

100-word advice
Success in any field requires preparation, perseverance and patience. In addition, it requires smartness to realize one's strengths, interests and competitive advantage and act accordingly. Make use of every single resource at your disposal and be proactive in your job search. Whether you are looking for an internship or a full-time job, it is important to cast your net wide enough to be able to catch every single opportunity that is out there. Stay focused and motivated and don't give up until you have met your objective. Best of luck for your studies and job search.
Ken ShenKen Shen (MBA ’03)
Current Position: Independent Management Consultant
Past Position: Manager, Strategy and Planning (Aftersales), BMW Canada
1. Why Finance? (Why did you decide to pursue a career in finance?)

Financial Management serves as a great foundation of knowledge and skills required to better understand the business and to make better decisions for literally every aspect of the business.

2. How did you get your first job to start your career? Please describe the job as much as possible which a job description doesn’t say but things you are willing to share. As well what did you like about the job.

My first job right after graduation was a Financial Analyst position with the Ontario Ministry of Finance where I gained tremendous experience in ERP systems and accounting principles and basic foundations. I like that job because it not only pays my bills, but also offers a great way to understand how the province operates and collects and spends tax dollars to serve Ontarians’ needs.

3. How did you progress to our current job? Describe how that current job is.

My current role is an Independent Management Consultant where I have been providing the management and strategy advisory as well as financial management and analysis services to a number of organizations across a variety of sectors. It is a natural evolution of my curiosity and passion to support customers to succeed by leveraging the experience I have gained from different organizations such as BMW Canada, RBC, Rogers Communications and the Government of Ontario. Some samples of my recent projects include supporting a medium-sized health benefit insurance company in Ontario to streamline its’ pricing strategy and internal process, where another project was a Senior Advisor role with the Province of Ontario to support the former Premier of Ontario Kathleen Wynne’s business mission to China in November and December 2017 by matching Ontario business delegates’ needs with their counterparts in China. I like my current role because of the variety of scope of the project (some are strategic in nature and maybe out of the defined traditional finance role).

4. If any student approached you for a coffee, what would be good three questions that a student should ask to find out about your work?
• What makes you passionate about this role?
• What are the skills and experience required to be successful in this role?
• What are key successful factors for this role from customer standpoint?

5. What courses or outside curriculum (i.e. Bloomberg certificate at Schulich helped to pursue your career or what you should have done to do better job in your role.)
I would strongly suggest taking the following courses and/or sharpening skills in the following areas:
• Communications – which includes all forms of delivering such as verbal, visualization of the presentation material, body language, active listening…the list goes on and on.
• Advanced skills and techniques in data analytics, such as excel VBA, SQL, SAS, R, etc.
• Basic consulting skills/case-study and problem-solving framework/project management.

The reason I highly recommend the above courses is that they can literally apply to every organization regardless of what function you are planning to focus on. Those fundamental knowledge and skills can help you better communicate business results and recommendations through a disciplined approach and strategic thinking. This way, you can know what you don’t know so that you can take a focused learning approach accordingly going forward.

6. What is the industry culture that students should be aware of?

The culture depends on the individual organization. Cultural awareness and business acumen can play a key role in successfully advancing your career.

7. How did we find out what your interests and strengths were and embark on the career path you have chosen?

It takes a bit of trial and error. That is why starting earlier at school to gain the career-planning and management skills is the advantage to the students. For me, I was in management in Sales, Marketing and Business Development in the high-tech/consumer goods industry in another country before earning my MBA at Schulich, and it makes sense not to purely focus on technical accounting and finance and choose the path of so-called “operational finance,” “business analytics and planning” or “corporate development.” In a nutshell, it is to support senior executives to make better strategic and operational decisions through data-driven financial and business planning and analysis. I found it has been a great journey and I love the interaction with people in the organization to make a positive impact.

8. How did we prepare ourselves to get the first job in our career journey?

Know your key strengths and passions, have a clear goal, take a focused approach for career planning and management, but also be flexible to navigate the path to get to where you want to be.

9. How did our Schulich degree (and what courses) prepare us to have a good start in our first and subsequent jobs?
It is a privilege to have a Schulich degree and it is a great foundation for overall career growth. Except for leveraging the knowledge and skills learned in school, the established business network with Schulich Alumni and mentorship program can definitely help and support your career if you are taking a win-win approach by trying to add value in the network at well. The business overview learned in school can also open the door for continuing education and progressing the career forward.

10. How the job like and what is makes the job interesting?

Working with fantastic people to make a positive impact makes the job interesting and meaningful.

11. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
Top niche analytics and planning skills, expert knowledge in ERP and CRM systems, coupled with strategic thinking and outstanding communication and leadership competency are key successful factors, among others.

12. What are the key performance expectation and indicators?
Deliver on promises and work cross functionally to meet and exceed the established target.

13. What is the career path and progression?
Career paths are not necessarily all vertical movements and promotions. Sometimes lateral moves, job enrichments, and taking on additional responsibility or interesting/challenging projects are also great ways to showcase your competencies and to progress your career accordingly.

14. What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
Whether the interviewee can think and act from the employer’s standpoint to put the employer’s interest and needs first. Particularly what YOU can do to make a difference.

15. Latest developments that new candidates entering the field should be aware of?
Big data, social media and digitalization.

16. Any other advice you may have to students today?
Start earlier, try to add value in every conversation and interaction with business contacts.

100-word advice
Congratulations on your completion of the successful academic journey at Schulich School of Business! To start and sustain a successful professional life, career-planning and management skills are definitely crucial. The CDC can help, but the ground work has to be yours. Similar to running a business, starting with a clearly defined vision and mission statement for your career will differentiate your form the crowd. However, it will be a journey, so do not be afraid to ask questions and sometimes make tough decisions. We have been living in a world with constant changes, and the inevitable changes may impact your professional career development and management as well, so I strongly recommend that you start early and step back and reflect on your key strengths and career positioning in the context of market demand and opportunity. Be flexible to adjust based on your unique situation and external environment.
Shiva SrikantanShiva J. Srikantan (BBA ’11, MBA ’15)
Current Position: Associate Relationship Manager, Corporate Banking, MUFG Bank
Past Position: Account Manager, Commercial Banking, TD Bank Financial Group
1. Why finance? (why did you decide to pursue a career in finance?)

I never envisioned going into Finance when I started my career. I initially wanted to go into sports management and was successful in finding a job at a not-for-profit provincial sporting body, but soon realized the climb into sports-executive ranks is a slow and steady process. Financial freedom was important to me and I wanted to achieve it at a young age. So I decided to go into Banking, initially in Commercial Banking, and I presently work in Corporate Banking.

2. How did you get your first job to start your career? Please describe the job as much as possible which a job description doesn’t say but things you are willing to share. As well what did you like about the job.

My first job in Banking came from a non-traditional source. I’m an avid basketball fan and played in a number of different leagues recreationally. From one of the leagues I used to play in, I met a branch manager from TD Canada Trust. Needless to say, the rest was history and that’s how I got my first start as a Bank teller (part-time) while pursuing my undergraduate studies full-time.

My personality fit as a “people-person” served me well early in my career and continues to do so. I like to be engaged and achieve results, but at the same time, believe in keeping things fun and light at work. This skill was really useful because Banking is very much about sales. So, when you have to “break the ice” with multiple personalities trying to sell different banking products, my ability to connect with people was helpful.

3. How did you progress to our current job? Describe how that current job is.

My current role is in Corporate Banking in the capacity of an Associate, Relationship Manager. The job entails coverage responsibilities for a diversified group of Corporates. Primary responsibilities include working with the Relationship Manager to ensure clients’ transaction banking needs are met. “Responsiveness” and “relationship-building” are key success factors in my work. Clients usually have numerous banks in their credit syndicate and if you’re not the first to provide solutions, you can easily be replaced. If anyone is interested, I will be happy to provide a more in-depth discussion over a coffee.

4. If any student approached you for a coffee, what would be good three questions that a student should ask to find out about your work.

• What are some interesting things you get to do in your day-to-day role?
• What gets you excited about your job?
• What are some practical things I should do to start my Corporate Banking career? (excel, Bloomberg, etc.)

5. What courses or outside curriculum (i.e. Bloomberg certificate at Schulich helped to pursue your career or what you should have done to do better job in your role.

• Bloomberg certificate
• Excel learning modules
• Navigating research platforms (S&P, Thompson Reuters, etc.)
• Corporate Financial Analysis (this is a good Schulich course to take)

6. What is the industry culture that students should aware of?

• Expect to leave your ego at the door (especially when you’re starting your career).
• Relationship-building involves after-working hours (attending industry-networking events, building a “centre of influence” network consisting of Accountants, Lawyers, Bankers, etc.).
• Be ready to sacrifice some weekends (not a typical 9-5 gig, then again what job is?). If a deal is live, deadlines don’t change, so you have to accommodate your schedule to get the deal done!
• Learning never stops. Always look into improving your skills (work like someone out there is looking to take your job, and it’s probably true!).
• Finally, have fun. If you don’t like what you’re doing, it’s tough to spend long hours trying to get better at it!

7. Advice
There’s no one way to do it, so always learn and continue improving day by day at whatever you do! Your education gives you a level playing field and what you do with it after dictates how far you go in life with a little bit of luck. I come from an immigrant family, so I work with an attitude that I have been afforded opportunities that people who are a lot smarter and more hard-working than me have not been given simply because of circumstances in life. So, it’s only right that I fully leverage my opportunity at success to better myself and keep “paying it forward.” Finally, I won’t say find your passion and make it a career because many of us don’t have the luxury of time to find our life’s calling. So, find something that you’re at least a little bit interested in and keep getting better at it. Always remember “success” is different to each person, and make sure you find your own definition and not what’s advertised! Good luck to you all.
Andy ThiAndy Thi (BBA ’12)
Current Position: Credit Analyst, Fixed Income, Foyston Gordon & Payne Inc.
Past Position: Assistant Vice President, Global Energy Corporates, DBRS Limited
1. Why did you choose to pursue a career in Finance?
I pursued a career in finance as it was the field that best fit my strengths and my interests. I had originally enrolled in Schulich with the intention to specialize in Finance; however, during the first two years of my BBA program, I kept an open mind and explored the different conventional business streams: Finance, Accounting, Marketing and Consulting. After taking the introductory courses, participating in different case competitions and talking to upper-years/alumni who worked in the different fields, I soon realized that a career in finance was the best fit for me. Reflecting on my strengths, I knew that I had a competitive advantage with my affinity with numbers and analytical approach. I also found myself more interested in reading finance-related materials and news compared to the other streams – flipping through the finance textbooks did not feel like a chore. As such, I felt that by finding something that I both excelled at and that I had a genuine interest in, it would put me in the best position to succeed in a professional career after graduating from Schulich.

2. How did you get your first job to start your career? Describe that job.
I was able to get a summer internship with DBRS, a credit rating agency, before my final undergrad year after applying for the position through a CDC posting. During the interview, I made sure that I was able to express to the interviewers my technical knowledge, prior experience (both extra-curricular and volunteer) and more importantly, my enthusiasm to learn more about the niche credit rating industry. After successfully securing the position, I treated the four-month internship as an extended interview for a full time offer and worked hard to build my reputation within the firm to obtain the full time offer prior to returning for my final year of school.
I started my full time career as a financial analyst and was responsible for assisting the lead analysts within the Energy team at DBRS with financial modelling, industry research and reviews of debt documents. I initially worked very closely with the different lead analysts during the credit rating process and eventually was able to progress into a lead analyst role myself. The job required a significant amount of due diligence work (reading, writing and financial modelling) in order to come up with a rating recommendation to our internal rating committee. As an analyst, we are then responsible for communicating the ratings and the supporting rationale to the investment community by writing research reports and participating in investor calls/meetings.

3. How did you progress to your current job? Describe your current job.
I am currently a fixed-income credit analyst with Foyston, Gordon & Payne Inc., a buy-side firm. After working at a credit rating agency for about four years, this current opportunity felt like a natural progression for my career. At the rating agency, I focused on learning and gaining as much experience as I could with fundamental credit analysis. With the buy-side firm, I am building on that experience and incorporating additional analysis on pricing, terms, relative values, etc., in order to provide investment recommendations to my portfolio managers.

4. How did your Schulich degree (and what courses) prepare you to have a good start in your first and subsequent jobs?
The Schulich degree and courses provided me with the fundamentals for my career progression. From a knowledge basis, the finance, accounting and economic courses ensured that I knew at least the basics to get my foot in the door. However, more importantly, I found that the student/alumni community at Schulich was the most beneficial for me. During the summer recruitment process, I was able to lean on the upper-year students for invaluable advice and preparation. What’s a better way to prepare for an interview than to do a mock interview with someone that went through the interview process the year before? Being able to build that network and surround yourself with like-minded folks, such as by participating in student clubs, is something that I highly recommend for incoming students.

In terms of courses, some finance students do not realize that accounting is an integral part for many jobs in the finance sector. Accounting is the language of business and being able to understand the accounting definitely helped me better understand the companies that I was analyzing. If you are interested in finance (undergrad), do not think that third and fourth year accounting courses are only for CPA students.

5. How's the job and what makes it interesting?
For my job, I am responsible for making investment recommendations to my portfolio managers during the investment process and to keep up to date with the companies and industries that I cover. In order to come up with a recommendation, I spend a significant amount of time reading and analyzing to better understand the industry, the company specifics and the risks/opportunities. After the due diligence process, I summarize my recommendations and the supporting rationale through a detailed research report that is then presented to our internal investment committee. About 50% of my time is spent doing independent research while the other 50% is spent bouncing ideas and discussing with the team. We have a very small fixed income team of five at my firm which encourages the collaborative environment.

Being on the buy-side is a very rewarding experience as you can specifically see the impact that your work has on the fund’s performance (for better or for worse). Every day is a learning experience as there is always something new out there that you can learn and read about to help build your knowledge and refine your assumptions and analysis. As your performance is easily observed, that drive and motivation to do better every day is a challenge that makes the job interesting.

6. What knowledge, skill sets and personality are needed to be successful in your field?
As a credit analyst, the drive to learn and the patience to read are two very important traits. You will also need to be able to think critically and have an analytical mindset. A significant portion of your day is spent reading, processing and analyzing information in order to formulate your thoughts and investment thesis. If you are a person that just reads headlines and regurgitates what you read, your probability of sustained success will be very low. At the end of the day, you are in the role because your technical knowledge and your thought process are valued and are expected to contribute to stronger fund performance.

7. What are the key performance expectation and indicators? What is the career path and progression?
As an analyst, your main output is the research reports and notes that you write. As such, the quality of the reports and your presentation to the internal committees are a reflection of your capabilities, work ethic and development. On the buy-side, the expectation is that your investment recommendations will lead to incremental performance for the funds (i.e. alpha) and this is very observable – your investment returns numbers over time is essentially your report card.

In terms of progression, the analyst role supports the portfolio manager(s) by contributing investment ideas (buy/hold/sell). The next level would be the role of a portfolio manager, who is responsible for the investment decisions and allocations. The organizational charts are relatively flat unlike other organizations where you might have more middle management roles. As a result, progression may not necessarily be correlated with the number of years in the industry but more with performance. There are also many people who choose to remain in an analyst role longer term if they do not have any interest in portfolio management responsibilities.

8. What do interviewers look for in potential candidates?
When interviewing for an entry level position, it is often assumed that the student would have the basic finance knowledge through the courses they take (marks are often an easy screener). Therefore, during the interview stage, students are often asked questions beyond the textbook to test their grasp of the topics and their ability to think critically. It is important to not just memorize what you read, but to understand it. In addition, “fit” is just as important. Can this person work in a team? Is this person willing to learn and put in the work? An employer is essentially investing their time and resources in a potential candidate so finding the right candidate that would fit into their work environment is critical.

100-word advice
To find the right career path for you, it is important to be honest with yourself and to truly reflect on your strengths, weaknesses and interests. What are you really good at? What do you find challenging that others might be stronger at? What do you enjoy reading about? What excites you? By answering these questions honestly, you will be in a better position to find a career path that you are genuinely interested in and that aligns with your core strengths – hopefully leading to a long and successful career.
June WangJune Wang (MF '11)
Current Position: Senior Financial Analyst, Valuation Analytics, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan
Past Position: Senior Consultant, Financial Risk Management Consulting, Ernst & Young
100-word advice:
I started my career as a consultant in a Big Four accounting firm. The opportunity allowed me to gain experiences in derivative valuation, risk management and capital adequacy through international engagements and to become a subject-matter expert over the years. Keenness to learn, willingness to work with others and persistence are the key skill sets which consulting firms, or any firms, are looking for from their employees. Long hours and travel outside country for long-term projects can be exciting yet challenging depending on one’s lifestyle and other commitments. My advice to students is stay connected, be humble and always be willing to give.