Assistant Vice President Investment Compliance
Canada Life (Great West Life Assurance Company)
CFA Charterholder since 2006
Speaking Polish isn’t a requirement for a career in Finance, but if you’re Shaila Ekramoddoullah, you use your commute time to work productively and teach yourself a third language. Whatever the obstacle or opportunity, Shaila has risen to the challenge and forged ahead to the next. She readily admits to being ambitious, goal-oriented, entrepreneurial and highly organized and using these traits along with a natural love of math to pursue her Bachelor of Commerce degree in Finance.
It wasn’t until University that Shaila was drawn to a career in Finance, in particular courses in International Finance and Mergers and Acquisitions, realizing the field offered more significant opportunities to affect change in the organizations in which she worked.
“If I had known about the CFA program, I would have pursued the designation earlier in my career.” "Things have changed," says Shaila.. It wasn’t until her role as an Associate Manager Pricing and Corporate Actions with Investors Group (now IG Wealth Management) when she learned about the CFA program and decided the additional knowledge and abilities would provide her with the tools to excel in her career.
Like many working mothers, Shaila needed to juggle her personal and professional responsibilities while earning her CFA designation and still sees this accomplishment as one of her greatest achievements. ”I don’t think that young women are aware that there are career options for them in finance, especially for those who are good in math, are analytical, like the challenge of puzzles and are problem solvers,” says Shaila. “For students who excel in math, particularly calculus, working in finance puts to practice many of the theories learned in high school. For Shaila finance makes math practical. “When you take calculus in high school, you don’t know how to apply it to daily life, but in finance many of the formulas for stocks, bonds, interest rates are a combination of calculus, algebra and statistics. Finance brings calculus alive!”
As Assistant Vice President, Investment Compliance at Canada Life, Shaila leads a department that provides independent oversight of the processes, systems and procedures of the investment division and acts as the liaison between the Investment and Compliance groups. “It’s a dynamic industry where the only constant is change. You need to be smart, quick thinking on your feet, be able to articulate and defend your position and have the conviction to challenge the actions of management where they differ from the approved compliance framework.”
Shaila has volunteered with CFA Society Winnipeg to recruit future female CFA candidates by raising the CFA program’s profile, starting in high school by ensuring both counsellors and students are aware of the Institute and its global recognition.
Earning a CFA designation opens up a world of opportunities as it is an internationally recognized designation requiring no equivalency requirements, allowing charterholders to work globe-wide. “There’s a whole world of opportunities out there for those who want to be challenged in a field that’s dynamic and always changing,” she says. “I’ve had the opportunity to participate on committees working with the government to help shape what the new rules for oversight will be moving forward, which I have found to be extremely rewarding and for which I’m very grateful.”
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