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The long road from Ukraine to corporate banking in Canada

Viktoriya Gruzytska, an executive director of corporate credit products at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce.

Viktoriya Gruzytska

What is your full name and title? And how long have you been in this role?

My name is Viktoriya Gruzytska and I am an executive director of corporate credit products at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. I joined CIBC 12 years ago as an associate and have since taken on roles with increasing responsibility to achieve my current position.

What exactly do you do?

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Corporate banking. We lend money to large corporate clients. Since 2004, I have managed credit relationships for a portfolio of major Canadian real estate companies.

Describe what you do on any given day.

For me there is no typical day. I work in a fast paced, deal-driven environment.

On any given day, I could be talking about new opportunities to clients, helping them problem-solve issues, visiting a client's facilities or meeting with potential clients.

No two days are ever the same.

What's your background and education?

I was born and raised in Ukraine, where I obtained a BA in Economics from the Kiev Economic University, then moved to Canada on my own at the age of 23 to obtain my MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. I have also earned my Chartered Financial Analyst designation.

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How did you get to your position? Give us some details about the path that has led you to your current role.

It wasn't a straight road! I worked in taxation for a bit before moving to Canada, and enjoyed the fast pace of it given it was the time when the Ukrainian tax system was being established.

I was determined to work in taxation in Canada as well, but after working for about a year in taxation after obtaining my MBA, I realize that I wasn't prepared to commit to a highly specialized area so early in my career.

My decision to move to corporate banking was strongly influenced by a friend who was already in the field and without her encouragement I would not had considered a career in capital markets.

Working at CIBC in corporate banking has allowed me use both my economics degree and my MBA and allowed me to expand my business focus.

What's the best part of your job?

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The best part of my job is that it is intellectually challenging and fast-paced.

I work with extremely bright people both within CIBC and with my clients, from whom I learn a lot.

I particularly enjoy the balance between the analytical side of my role and the client relationship aspect. I also like that I can add value to the client by suggesting solutions and ultimately providing financing, without which the client's business cannot function and grow.

What's the worst part of your job? Be honest.

I have never liked the routine. So administrative tasks such as the annual reviews of existing loans can be routine but are important.

What are your strengths in this role?

I have strong quantitative skills but to succeed and progress in this industry, you need to take initiative and be proactive.

In my view, it comes down to taking leadership and but also collaborating with partners from other parts of the firm.

What are your weaknesses?

I am very detail-oriented, and you have to be in this job, but at the same time it is also very fast moving because of the time sensitivity of the transactions. Sometimes it is hard to combine the desire to focus on the smallest detail and to move quickly.

What has been your best career move?

Moving to corporate banking. It's been a great fit for me – demanding, challenging, fast-paced, but it also allows me to balance my career and family life with three young children.

What has been your worst career move?

I don't regret any of my career moves, but rather things I haven't done or opportunities I haven't taken advantage of. There is always something that can be learned from any experience, and I truly believe that almost any obstacle can be turned into an opportunity.

What's your next big job goal?

Recently, I have been asked to help with CIBC corporate banking activities outside of Canada. This unique role will require me to work with our international offices, be involved in setting strategy, establishing a strong set of operational controls and even creating my own job responsibilities. While very different from my previous client-focused roles, this role will be more strategic and allow me to broaden my knowledge.

My goal is to continue advancing my career by taking on new responsibilities and leadership challenges.

What's your best advice to others who might want to follow in your footsteps?

Be prepared to work hard, take initiative and create your own "career advisory board" comprised of people to whom you can go for advice on career possibilities and challenges.

Do you know an executive or leader who has an interesting career story for My Career? E-mail

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