‘The opportunities are boundless’

Meet four alumnae who credit their success to Concordia’s Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program
August 23, 2021
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By Molly Hamilton

four female Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management grads Concordia’s Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program (KWPMP) is taking steps to improve the gender balance in the world of finance and investment.

While progress in recent decades has been made to advance gender equality in the workforce, the road toward true parity continues. In the world of finance and investment, this rings particularly true.

Bloomberg recently reported that in 2020, women accounted for only “14 per cent of the 25,000 portfolio managers globally” — the same numbers as 20 years earlier. And, according to the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute, there is no single country in the world where women make up at least half of its CFA members.

Concordia’s Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program (KWPMP) is taking steps to improve the landscape, with many of its alumnae making headways in the industry. In 2019, the John Molson School of Business also named Sukyong Yang as the program’s director and adjunct professor.

“It is my goal to create future leaders of the business community who are outstanding in their field while maintaining their humility and grace,” says the former portfolio manager who joined Concordia with 30 years of industry experience in consulting, audit and portfolio management.

“I also want to encourage young women to consider a career in finance as the opportunities are boundless, and the Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program helps them reach their potential.”

Working with industry professionals who teach unique courses created for the program, the KWPMP provides students with the opportunity to work with a real-life portfolio worth over $3.8 million. Yang also invites industry professionals to speak at weekly seminars.

Launched in 2000 — with a visionary $1-million gift from Kenneth Woods, MBA 97, LLD 17 — the program is the first of its kind in Quebec and has provided more than 150 finance students with hands-on investment management experience.

Meet four alumnae paving the path in the world of finance and investment.

Andreea Constantin, BComm 02

Andreea Constantin, BComm 02

Growing up in Romania under communist rule, Andreea Constantin, BComm 02, knew very little about portfolio management when she immigrated to Canada at the age of 19.

“When I saw the description of the program, I thought this was exactly the type of program that I wanted to be part of, to really have an edge in my career,” says Constantin. “The combination of managing a real portfolio, receiving guidance from outstanding mentors and working two internships gave me the skills and insights necessary to hit the ground running at my very first job.”

The Kenneth Woods program provided Constantin with the foundation she needed for a successful career. Her resume includes roles at Standard Life Investment, Bank of Montreal and GMP Securities. She additionally gained international experience working for Scotiabank in Lima, Peru.

Most recently, Constantin worked at RBC as vice-president, Capital Markets, Fixed Income and Currencies, as well as on projects with RBC Wealth Management and Global Asset Management until she decided to devote her time to being a mother — her “favourite role” as she describes it.

While she’s stepped out of the financial world for now, Constantin acknowledges there’s still work to be done in her sector.

“The finance industry is a difficult environment for women, and challenges such as work-related harassment are still an issue that affect women more than men,” she says. “I believe that having better representation in the workforce will allow the new generation entering the industry to feel more supported and hopefully not face the same reality.

“Ultimately, I think the more women are represented in the industry, the more equitable and sustainable the environment will be for both men and women.”

Chaoyang Shen, BComm 18

Chaoyang Shen, BComm 18

Born and raised in China, Chaoyang Shen, BComm 18, embarked on her undergraduate degree in electrical engineering in her home country until she transferred to Concordia in 2014.

“I wanted to be a part of the KWPMP because we were able to manage real money and gain investment experience,” she says. “The internship opportunities that came along with the program were also something that attracted me.”

Since graduating from the program, Shen has worked as an analyst at Canadian Pension Plan Investments and is now an associate for global emerging markets at British Columbia Investment Management Corporation.

“As an international student, the internship experience helped me better integrate myself into the North American professional world, which is very different compared with where I came from,” says Shen. “The experience I gained from the program prepared me to excel in the investment management industry.”

As a recent graduate, Shen’s advice to young women interested in the industry is to not be afraid to use your voice.

“Coming from a background that values being thoughtful and always thinking twice before speaking or acting, adapting to the North American culture was not an easy task,” says Shen.

“My advice for young women is to not be afraid to express your own opinions even though you may not be 100 per cent sure. Speak up whenever you need any help or advice.”

Evelyne L’Archevêque, BComm 10

Evelyne L’Archevêque, BComm 10

Having graduated in the years following the 2008 recession, Evelyne L’Archevêque, BComm 10, credits her ability to enter the workforce at that time to what she learned in the KWPMP.

“By having internships available — along with the first-hand knowledge — I was able to land my first job at National Bank, right in the middle of the global financial crisis, when people were having difficulty finding work,” she says.

During her time in the KWPMP, L’Archevêque was only one of four women in her cohort. It wasn’t until she entered the workforce, however, that she realized that women were so underrepresented.

“I’m not sure if it became more obvious because there was also a stark age difference when I entered the industry,” she recalls. “I’d say that's much more intimidating than applying to business school or embarking in the KWPMP.”

L’Archevêque has since worked in portfolio management at Jarislowsky Fraser Limited and Monstrusco Bolton. Her current role is as an investment officer at CN Investment Division.

“As a woman in capital markets I felt like I was a minority,” she says. “It wasn’t until after graduation, when I was meeting people with 30 years’ of work experience, that I felt more intimidated.

“I credit the KWPMP experience for boosting my confidence to be better prepared for the workplace.”

Liliana Tzvetkova, BComm 09,

Liliana Tzvetkova, BComm 09

A native of Bulgaria, Liliana Tzvetkova, BComm 09, completed her first bachelor’s degree in math and computer science. Shortly after her family moved to Canada, she decided to pursue a degree in finance.

“It ended up being a great fit for me,” she says. “It’s something I really enjoy doing every day.”

Though she was one of only two women in the Kenneth Woods program — and despite coming from a background in math and science which is also male-dominated — Tzvetkova shares that she never felt left out as a KWPMP student.

“I never really felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously or that I was any different,” she says. “I felt more as though [classmates and instructors] were appreciative of the different point of view that a woman can bring.”

Since graduating from the KWPMP, Tzvetkova has worked at Industrial Alliance Securities, Dundee Capital Markets and CWB Wealth Management, where she is currently a portfolio manager and co-head of U.S. Equities.

“I am so grateful for this program giving me the chance to be where I am now,” says Tzvetkova. “If there was one life-changing event in particular, career-wise, it was being chosen to be part of the Kenneth Woods program.”

 

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