May 19, 2022Print | PDF
At the most recent Lazaridis Master of Finance Alumni Speaker Series, we were joined by Grace Tian (MFin ’17), senior associate at Canadian private equity firm Northleaf Capital Partners, and Annabelle Luo (MFin ’13), finance manager of valuations at TD Securities. Moderated by Tony Tang, Master’s of Finance (MFin) program director, Grace and Annabelle spoke to Lazaridis students and prospective master’s program students about their career paths and experiences.
Hearing from successful Lazaridis alumni is one of the ways the Laurier community helps students explore the numerous opportunities in business and financial sectors.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you in your role?
Grace: My role is a middle-of-the-office role. In private equity, every two or three years, the sales team will pitch and try to raise money from clients to invest in a new product. On the other side, you have the investment professionals who will be originating the deals—they will invest the money into investment opportunities. I sit in the middle and match the funds coming in and coming out to make sure each bond delivers what it promised. The role is a balance of social skills and analytical skills. I talk to external parties, bank staff, and more. Then there is a great deal of analysis required. That’s pretty much my day-to-day.
Annabelle: As manager of finance valuations, I contribute to the strategic direction of the finance function by executing the governance of valuation adjustments and independent price verification. Valuation adjustment is a very fast, evolving topic. We constantly deal with changes. It is one of the most demanding roles I’ve ever taken.
Q: What are the most challenging aspects of your job?
Grace: In my line of work, and I see this in other people’s careers too, the further you go down the road, the more it is about managing relationships and communicating with various parties. At some point in your career, that becomes a challenge.
Annabelle: The most challenging part is that it requires everything. It’s a very well-rounded position. You have to be very technical and analytical and communicate well. You must be able to explore a vast amount of data and evaluate it.
Grace: I would like to add one more point. I think another challenge is to be confident. I guess it’s easy to be confident, but it can also be tough to be confident. But that’s highly required in every single role. When you first start a job, you’re never confident deep inside because there’s so much you don’t know. But it takes time and knowledge for a lot of us to build up confidence. So, it’s going to be a long, long battle. But one day, you will get there and conquer the obstacle.
Q: What advice would you give to MFin students to help them prepare for their first term in the program or their first co-op?
Grace: You have to never forget what you’re good at. Because of that, you are where you are today. Those qualities of yours will get you to wherever you want to be.
Annabelle: Doing your first co-op, learn as much as you can. Be curious and be positive and always show you’re eager to learn. Don’t be afraid of showing that you don’t know because it’s normal. Don’t be shy about asking for help because, you know, Canada is a very friendly environment. People help each other. I got a lot of support along my way.
Q: What advice do you have for students for networking, job searches, and landing your first role?
Grace: Over the last few years, I’ve had people reach out to have a coffee or chat to get to know the industry. Before you do that, I find that it is beneficial to understand yourself—what you are good at and where you might potentially fit in the industry. Make it an interactive conversation instead of just receiving information.
Annabelle: I would say to get good grades. Don’t underestimate how important it is!