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Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing
Canadian investment icon Ira Gluskin led panel discussion on careers in finance
Ira Gluskin, a legendary success in the Canadian investment world, spoke to a packed gathering of Wilfrid Laurier University business students in the Senate & Board Chamber on November 6.
Gluskin is the co-founder and vice-chairman of Gluskin Sheff + Associates, an independent wealth firm that manages portfolios of $3 million or more for select clients and institutional investors. He was joined on the panel by three highly successful Laurier business alumni: Bill Webb (’86), executive vice-president and chief investment officer at Gluskin Sheff + Associates; Brad Dunkley (’98), co-founder of Waratah Advisors, and Joe Overdevest (’02), portfolio manager for Pyramis Global Advisors, a Fidelity Investments company.
Dunkley and Overdevest spoke warmly of their learning experience as business co-op students, and then full-time employees, at Gluskin Sheff + Associates.
“It’s the reason I came to Laurier,” said Dunkley. “The experience of Laurier co-ops has been fantastic,” agreed Gluskin, who mentored the three other panelists through the early days of their careers.
Eleven Laurier alumni currently have positions at his firm, and Gluskin Sheff + Associates has employed over 100 Laurier co-op students.
After sharing their personal history of finding their way into investment banking, the panelists offered practical advice to the students. Collectively, they warned the students that although a career in finance had great financial rewards, it also requires very hard work among tough competitors. They told the students to discover where they belong in the investment field by gaining work experience through Laurier’s co-op opportunities, student-run investment funds and business groups. Gluskin also suggested opening up a brokerage account, adding “You’ll find out soon enough if you have the passion to make it in this business.”
“Follow your passion” was the overriding message of the panelists. The students were also advised to consider their personality type when choosing their finance career options. Not everyone has the same tolerance for risk, Gluskin noted, and investors have to get along with the comfort level of their clients and their company.
“There are lots of ways to skin a cat,” said Webb. “Investment is a bit of an art form as well as a skill.”
The students were advised to maintain a strong reputation for integrity, respectfulness, and consistency.
“Everyone knows everyone on Bay Street,” said Overdevest, “so never speak badly of others. It will get back to them.”
He told the students to take the time to make authentic connections, to pick up the phone instead of emailing, and to write thank-you notes by hand. Dunkley encouraged the students not to be afraid to stand out, and warned them that their Twitter, Facebook and website comments are likely to turn up on a potential employer’s Google search. “It’s the first thing we do when we’re looking at a possible hire.”
The event was hosted by the department of Development & Alumni Relations at Laurier.