Careers: Leading The Way

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For hundreds of years, immigrants have been leaving the Old World and starting a new life in the New World. But the frequency doesn’t make the challenge any easier. Leaving your home and succeeding in a new country is hard work.

When you talk to Ismat Malik, you quickly realize “hard work” is her theme and the main ingredient of her success.

She and her family arrived in Canada in 2002. Malik acknowledges, “My husband left a very good job back home, but he was confident and convinced he would get a good job in Canada.” Moving his family to Mississauga, her husband Raghib was working very hard to establish himself in the transportation business.

Concentrating on her three sons’ upbringing, Malik had never worked outside her home in Pakistan; still, she wanted to help.

Her first job was as a part-time teacher, but as Malik was studying to be a full-time teacher, she continued to look for other employment experiences. In June 2003, an advisor asked her to help him book appointments. He was so impressed with her performance that he invited her to join the team at Sun Life Financial’s Mississauga Financial Centre. Malik passed her exams and became an advisor a few months later.

Because her children were still young, Malik was attracted to the flexibility of this new career. “You can move into a career as an advisor from any walk of life, even with young children.”

Over the next four years, Malik learned the skills to enable her to move into the next phase of her career. She mentored an advisor in her second year in that role, working with other managers to help this new advisor make appointments and establish a business.

Her manager saw that she enjoyed being a teacher, tutor, and guide.

In her third year as an advisor, she had the opportunity to mentor another advisor, who did very well. “I believe in the business so much that I saw myself as being able to motivate others to do well in business. When you like something, you try to learn about it inside and out.” That leadership led a senior manager to ask Malik to become a Sales Manager in September 2007.

Her role today is to recruit people interested in joining the financial services industry, introduce the career to them, train them, and help them establish their businesses.

She looks for people who believe in themselves. “For this community – India, Pakistan, and the Caribbean in particular – I would say we are very good at building and sustaining

relationships. This is where our strength lies. If you keep working on building trust, you will have the best relationships.

“Canada is the land of opportunities. It only needs people who are willing to work, and they’ll find their way. Whatever you want to do, there is a field for you. You can do it!”

Her company’s head office knows about Malik’s accomplishments and mentoring successes. Jacqueline McMullen is the Assistant Vice President of Career Sales Force Recruiting and Selection at Sun Life Financial. McMullen has known Malik since she became an advisor: “I also started my career with Sun Life in the Mississauga Financial Centre, working directly with Ismat. Not only is Ismat always professional, focused, and driven, but she is also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet!”

Malik recently returned from a trip to Pakistan, where she attended her oldest son’s wedding. Zain, 22, became an advisor earlier this year in May and has qualified for an early sales success program. “You always want the best for your children.

I totally, strongly believe in this career so much that I wanted him to join us.”

And what about Malik’s future? She is studying to become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), to add to her Certified Life Underwriter (CLU) and Registered Health Underwriter (RHU) professional designations.

“I see myself as a Financial Centre Manager in another five years.”

Ismat Malik is a role model for women, new Canadians, and new advisors, demonstrating by example that with hard work and conviction, they can succeed in the financial services industry. “If you show them, ‘This is what I do; this is how I help people achieve lifetime financial security,’ then they see how to build relationships in the community.”

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