Carmen Quiroz’s advice for new grads is simple: work hard and get used to learning quickly.
Quiroz (MFRM ’17) needs to do both in her role at Scotiabank, where she’s a senior manager with the team overseeing the institution’s compliance of the new set of international financial reporting standards, IFRS 9. Every day she’s keeping an eye on financial markets and making code changes to one of the bank’s calculators so that the institution can determine their allowance for credit losses, or ACL, faster and more precisely.
“Basically, my day is spent keeping pace with the changes that are occurring,” says Quiroz.
By now, Quiroz, who landed this senior management role just 15 months after graduating from the Master of Financial Risk Management program at the Rotman School, is used to change. Before taking on this role, she had already been promoted once before at the bank, from a senior analyst to a manager in credit risk.
She is one of several students from the inaugural MFRM class who has advanced to leadership positions at major financial institutions. Now — 18 months after graduating from Rotman — these MFRM alumni are ready to look back on their time in the program and offer advice to current student and new grads eager to enter the job market.
“Want to get ahead in your career? Think fast and work hard.”
-Carmen Quiroz, MFRM ’17
In Quiroz’s experience, being comfortable with change has been most important.
“I constantly need to acquire new skills and grasp new topics quickly,” says Quiroz, suggesting students and new grads work on becoming fast learners.
“Luckily, the MFRM will give students eight months of that fast-paced learning.”
Keep an open mind
Cameron Pituley (MFRM ’17) empathizes with current students who are anxious about their professional paths after graduation. He stresses the importance of keeping an open mind when it comes to career planning.
It’s a strategy that has worked out well for Pituley, who is now a senior consultant in central reconciliations with the capital markets operations team at CIBC. He’s been promoted twice since starting at the bank over a year ago. Shortly after graduating from the MFRM program, he started with the bank’s OTC derivatives regulatory operations team as an analyst. Ten months later, he was promoted to a project and technical lead role. Four months after that, he landed his current role.
How has he managed to progress so quickly?
“It goes without saying that I have supportive managers and mentors to thank for this progression — but it’s helped that I’ve been willing to pivot and step outside my comfort zone and my main areas of expertise,” explains Pituley.
“Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone and explore new opportunities.”
-Cameron Pituley, MFRM ’17
Though his work at the bank has primarily focused on reporting and analytics, and is somewhat removed from the subject matter he focused on in the MFRM program, he credits the program for helping him acquire the right technical mindset for taking on new projects.
“The technical skillset that you develop in the program is really applicable anywhere you go. I think that was a major attribute that made me stand out during the job-hunting process,” he says.
The less-technical teachings also came in handy too.
“The focus on communications is the most important aspect of the program,” says Pituley. “If you’re able to summarize the business and technical aspects of a project in a clear way, you’re set.”
Pay attention in class
For a few MFRM grads, like Yang Zhang (MFRM ’17), career progression has been very steady.
“I’ve been very lucky,” says Zhang who was recently promoted to a risk manager at RBC. “Each opportunity felt like it came up naturally.”
Zhang completed his MFRM industry project at RBC. He made a strong impression with the team and successfully interviewed for an analyst position with the bank’s risk management group, which he started immediately after graduating from the program. After a year in this role — during which he took on more and more leadership responsibilities with the bank’s risk and recovery planning — Zhang was offered a managerial role on the team.
Still, he doesn’t feel too far removed from Rotman. He often returns to some of his learnings from the MFRM program — notably Professor John Hull’s Regulation and Risk Management class.
“I often look back on at what I learned and I’d suggest that students pay attention in class and keep good notes — they could definitely be useful to you one day.”
Because the bank’s standards on regulations are high and his work is so technical, he knows he needs to maintain a handle on financial risk issues.
Still, it’s been an exciting time.
“I’ve met so many people and learned so much about business and the inner workings at a major bank,” he says. “It’s been a great start to my career.”
Written by Rebecca Cheung | More Student Stories »