As a child immersed in the discipline and chaos that came with military life, Andrea Lavergne, BComm (finance) 95, moved frequently throughout her formative years. When it came time to apply to universities, she wanted ensure that whatever she studied could be practiced anywhere in the world.
“Moving around as part of a military family influences you, but it also influences your choices,” says Lavergne. “I have a very global and flexible mindset and I wanted to make sure that I could work in London, Paris, Japan or New York.”
Lavergne, who holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, recently joined Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital (CC&L) in Montreal, as vice-president and investment manager.
“The CFA designation is the only designation that’s portable worldwide, without recertification,” she adds. “That was extremely appealing to me, because I come from a family where my mother followed my father to all of his different military postings and could never hold a steady career.”
Prior to joining CC&L, one of the largest, independent discretionary investment-counselling firms in Canada, Lavergne held senior positions at Fiera Capital Corporation and Heward Investment Management Ltd.
Her career in the financial industry spans 25 years, yet took flight as a student at Concordia, while working full-time in accounting.
“The reason I chose Concordia is because it allowed me to pursue part-time studies while gaining valuable work experience during the day,” says Lavergne. “The flexibility was key because I could build a schedule around my life, instead of building a life around my schedule.
“I took four classes at night while working full-time, so I was always super busy and would finish at around 10 or 11 at night.”
Paving the way
Lavergne is only the second person in her family, after her aunt, who also worked in accounting, to attend university.
“Maybe my aunt was my inspiration, but I discovered finance though a great professor named Arshad Ahmad,” says Lavergne. “I had a eureka moment and realized that I didn’t want to prepare financial statements, I wanted to analyze them. I enjoyed the analysis more than the accounting, so I switched to finance.”
As the only woman in the CC&L Private Capital sales team in Montreal, and in a senior role in a male-dominated field, encouraging young women in finance is something Lavergne takes to heart. She returned to Concordia in 2002 as a lecturer at the Goodman Institute of Investment Management, as part of its Master of Business Administration (MBA) program.
“The course was given simultaneously in Montreal and Toronto via teleconferencing, when the technology first came out,” says Lavergne. “I would teach the course from either city on a weekly basis.”
The opportunity made her realize how much time and knowledge actually went into designing a course and gave her a greater respect for the professors she admired during her student days.
“The professors I had in accounting and finance were fantastic,” says Lavergne. “Funnily enough, one of the skills I learned in marketing was to create presentations, and teaching at the university helped me hone the presentation skills I first developed there.”
Lavergne also returned to her alma mater in 2019, to volunteer as a judge for the Engineering & Commerce Case Competition.
Despite the mobility her CFA designation offers, Lavergne lives happily in Montreal with her three teenage daughters. She hopes more women choose finance as a career and is grateful that industry veterans give back to universities. Those resources, she maintains, will help groom the next generation of investment managers.