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News & Press: Ascend Canada National News

Students pick up career insights at Aspire Panel

Tuesday, December 5, 2017   (0 Comments)
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By Yilin Tian – President, Ascend University of Toronto


Willingness to learn.

Ability to communicate effectively.

Strong work ethic.

These three qualities were repeatedly mentioned as keys to a successful career by speakers on the Aspire Panel, a recent event hosted by the Ascend student chapter at the University of Toronto. 

Earlier this month, more than 60 students took part in the 3rd annual Aspire Panel speaker series, designed to help students connect with people in different industries and to gain insights on how to launch their careers. Kevin Vuong (a Queen’s Young Leader, social entrepreneur, and military officer) moderated a lively discussion with seven Ascend Canada representatives from various organizations. Hot topics ranged from workplace diversity and inclusion, to the importance of volunteerism, to advice for getting your foot in the door.

Students were encouraged to be bold, explore new opportunities, and find their fit within the workforce. “I didn’t enjoy going to work when it was dark outside, and coming home when it was dark again,” said moderator Kevin Vuong, as he shared his experience of transitioning from the private to public sector and becoming involved with various city-building initiatives. The importance of finding your own niche was echoed by Jack Yu, Business Law Associate, Fasken-Martineau DuMoulin. He completed a degree in biochemistry and philosophy before deciding to pursue a career in business law.

The panelists also spoke to students about their unique backgrounds and the paths that led them to where they are today. They provided career advice regarding what they learned along the way, and why they became involved with Ascend Canada. What resonated with me was the idea that although there is no perfect recipe for success, we must be willing to take risks to get there. Doing so allows us to open doors to unforeseen opportunities, and it is important to be willing to learn and adapt to these changes. The panelists unanimously agreed that joining Ascend has been a great way to connect with students at events such as the Aspire Panel, and help build future leaders.

Following the panel, students had the opportunity to network with professionals and find out more about select industries during an open networking session. We received great feedback from the students, asking for even more networking time and expressing their interest in attending future events. “Listening to the different journeys of successful industry professionals gave me more in-depth knowledge of their jobs and career paths, inspiring me to work towards my goals,” said Carmen Lee, 3rd year Rotman Commerce student. A huge thank you to Ascend Canada and student volunteers who made this a successful event!

Thank you to our expert panel of representatives:

  • Jack Yu, Business Law Associate - Fasken-Martineau DuMoulin 

  • Sakshi Daral, Digital Channels & Technology Audit – TD

  • Kunwar Khan, Senior Staff Accountant – EY

  • Natasha Brainerd, Digital Collaboration and Communications Manager – RBC

  • Saqib Nazir, VP, Risk Measurement and Funds Transfer Pricing – RBC

  • Kanuj Gupta, Senior Manager, Data Governance, Chief Data Office – CIBC

  • Jaishal Kotak, AVP & Managing Director, Strategy and Business Development – Manulife

(From left to right: Jack Yu, Sakshi Daral (hidden), Kunwar Khan, Kevin Vuong, Natasha Brainerd, Saqib Nazir, Kanuj Gupta, and Jaishal Kotak)


(Sakshi Daral talking to students during the networking portion)



about Ascend

Ascend Canada was founded in 2012 to enhance the presence, visibility and influence of current and future Pan-Asian business leaders. Today, with the support of our more than 3,000 members and numerous corporate partners, our objectives are to develop the full potential of our members by leveraging our networks and providing programs and events that inspire, as well as educate. 

Vision: To have a diverse and inclusive Canada where pan-Asian talent can achieve its full potential.

Mission: Partner and progress with Canadian Organizations to develop and advance pan-Asian talent.

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