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Gabriela Sanchez first started working at AIMCo as an intern and is now its senior analyst, sustainable investing.Supplied

Gabriela Sanchez had been a full-time employee at the Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) for just a few months when she realized she had made the right career choice.

At the time, AIMCo was working on a project to develop a system to evaluate the climate impacts of current and potential investments. Sanchez was a recent university graduate, but her manager showed confidence in her abilities and allowed her to take a lead role in the important project.

“I learned so much,” she says. “I was able to collaborate with different investment teams in the organization. Even though I was very early in my career, I was able to participate in a project that was so important to our sustainable investing program and to the company, in a significant way.”

As one of Canada’s largest and most diversified institutional investment managers, AIMCo must stay on top of new developments in the financial industry, says AIMCo’s chief people, culture and engagement officer, Krista Pell. “We are the investment managers for a significant number of Alberta’s pensions and many of the province’s large trusts. Our focus is to create financial success for these funds and we use a variety of tools to do that.”

One tool is a culture that nurtures young employees and makes full use of the ideas and talent they bring into the company. “We consider our young employees like all of our employees,” says Pell. “We have something called ‘structured excellence’ that is a core component of our culture. A new employee joining the company will be given a very structured work environment, so they can learn what ‘great’ looks like.”

AIMCo offers a series of rotational programs, including an 18-month fiduciary management program and a three-part investment management rotational program. A 30-month chartered professional accountant rotational program is also popular.

The company runs summer internships and full-year co-op programs to identify and recruit young talent. “We target approximately 10 per cent of our workforce in our new employee student program, which is high compared to many other firms,” says Pell.

Sanchez connected with the company while working on her finance degree at the University of Alberta. She was developing her third-year thesis on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues when she reached out to AIMCo researchers. When the opportunity opened up for a summer internship in 2021, she jumped at the chance. “As soon as I graduated the next year I joined the company full time,” she says.

Today Sanchez appreciates the company culture and the people at AIMCo. She also takes advantage of the company’s Work Our Way program, a hybrid work program that gives employees autonomy over where and when they can work. She’s stepped out of her comfort zone and joined an employee resource group called Women and Allies for Gender Equity, where she played a significant role in the planning team for an International Women’s Day event.

The company gives every employee up to $5,000 every year to be used on conferences, certificates and professional designations. Sanchez has already attended two major financial conferences in New York and is pursuing her chartered financial analyst designation with AIMCo’s support.

“There’s a tremendous value in being a great employer for young employees,” says Pell. “We’re developing investment talent, not just for us, but for Alberta as well.”

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