People and Perspectives
BSS links to the city it calls home
Chair of the BSS Board of Trustees and father of Sophie, Grade 8, Jonathan Hunter is unequivocal about the competitive advantage of gender diversity in the workplace. As Global Head of Fixed Income, Currencies and Commodities for RBC Capital Markets, Mr. Hunter is actively involved with RBC’s diversity efforts worldwide. He is at the forefront of reshaping investment banking to make diversity the norm, which includes ensuring women are in key decision-making roles on his international team.
“The outcomes associated with diversity are undeniable and undisputable,” he explains. “The world is changing at an incredible pace, so you have to look at things through a different lens to create innovative solutions. If everyone on your team has the same background and perspective, you will fall flat on your face.”
Given his close association with BSS, Mr. Hunter sees firsthand how the school prepares young women for the opportunities awaiting them in the world of work.
“BSS has a superb record of setting the girls up for success with the skills they develop, such as fluency with technology, critical thinking, and understanding how to approach a problem,” he says. “As one example, the collaborative nature of the STEM curriculum involves group work that is in line with what an investment bank is like: a joint effort across multiple areas to solve a problem.”
Mr. Hunter also points out that skill development must be accompanied by a strong belief in your own abilities.
“Often, something gets lost in the space between skills and confidence,” he says. “You have these women with fantastic abilities and experiences, but they are not always willing to be heard in a group or put their name forward for a new challenge. They feel they have to check every box before they can make a move. BSS grads have the leadership and confidence to carry themselves forward.”
Maryam KHALID ’08 embodies those qualities. In just ten years, she has graduated from McGill and the Osgoode Hall Law School, published a book, and landed the role of Legal Counsel to the Ontario Ministry of Finance.
“Resolving complex legal problems and managing clients while working with very strong personalities requires a high level of confidence in one’s own abilities,” she says. “You have to be able to persevere if you want to succeed in highly stressful situations.”
Looking back, Ms. Khalid credits BSS with giving her the self-assurance that has helped her to excel.
“Beyond the academic education I received in my 14 years at BSS, the greatest lessons I learned were to be tenacious, not doubt myself, and have a strong work ethic,” she says. “These things helped me through the challenges of university and law school and have been critical in my career.”
The value of a BSS education is also evident in second year student Katrina MARSDEN ’16, who was given advanced entry status at Western University’s Richard Ivey School of Business when she was in Grade 12. She will enter the business undergraduate program next year when she completes the first two years of complementary study required by the program.
Known at BSS for her involvement in projects like the Moral Courage work that led to the Girl Talk ad campaign and the Honour Summit, Ms. Marsden has continued to get involved with a variety of initiatives at Western. She is a political analyst for a think tank publication called the Leadership and Democracy Lab, has moderated election debates for the university council, and joined the Western Investment Club.
“I would never have become who I am without BSS,” she says. “It is such an empowering environment. It instills the idea that you can do anything you set your mind to.”
Ms. Marsden also embodies the confident pursuit of opportunities that Mr. Hunter sees as critical to success. Soon after she started first year, she began pursuing an investment banking summer internship. Rather than rely only on the BSS network, she independently cold contacted over 80 investment banks of various sizes.
“I knew I wanted to do it on my own,” she recalls. “I was very confident in my abilities, so I just emailed the CEO or Vice Chairman. It was a great experience. Some people were not receptive, but others were.”
Ultimately, Ms. Marsden’s persistence landed her an opportunity unique for someone her age. She worked as an analyst for Marlin & Associates, splitting her time between the Toronto and New York offices.
Mr. Hunter would advise all young women to follow the examples of Ms. Khalid and Ms. Marsden. Most industries have made a deliberate decision to be more inclusive and are attracted to the kind of spirit and determination shown by these alumnae.
“Throughout the financial services industry, firms are leaning heavily into recruitment,” he says. “Take advantage of it. Companies are looking for gender diversity. That’s a door opener. Embrace this culture shift. Say ‘that’s great – that’s my opportunity.’”
Warren Lang, M.Ed. is co-owner of the freelance writing company Sumner & Lang.