It's been seven years since Hanna Naiman walked onto her first trading floor at TD Securities. She was only 18 years old, but it still stands out as one of the most significant career opportunities she was given.
"It was like standing on a huge football field, full of activity and with a ton of flashing screens everywhere," says Ms. Naiman, who is now an associate at CIBC capital markets' business. "I had never imagined work could be like that and it was completely mesmerizing for someone as young as me. It was on that day that I realized that this could be the place for me."
Ms. Naiman was one of 30 female students who had the chance to sneak a glimpse into the world of Bay Street back in 2008 as a participant in the Women in Capital Markets (WCM) annual job shadow day.
Today the event has grown in size to include 90 female Grade 12 students from across the Greater Toronto Area, who have applied to a business or related university program to learn first-hand about the different career opportunities in capital markets. The event, in its 12th year, takes place on Friday.
During the job shadow day, students will have an opportunity to hear from high-profile women working in the industry, and job shadow a capital markets professional at one of the participating institutions, which include BMO Capital Markets, CIBC Wholesale Banking, National Bank, RBC Capital Markets, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, and TD Securities.
"When you are in high school, a lot of the jobs you hear about are lawyers or doctors but you don't hear a lot about the investment industry," Ms. Naiman says. " I felt this could be an opportunity to let me see what was out there beyond that."
Hosted this year by TD Securities, the event will allow students to attend interactive workshops that focus on the various careers available in the capital markets.
"One of the big hurdles for me coming into the industry was having access to information about the careers that are available in capital markets," says Deborah Grosdanis, chair of the High School Liaison Committee for WCM and an associate director in corporate banking at Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets. "I thought a banker was a teller until my second-year university because I wasn't growing up with anyone I knew in the industry and access to the industry certainly isn't as prevalent as it is today."
"Girls make so many decisions early on where they close doors on a lot of fantastic career opportunities" says Jennifer Reynolds, president and CEO of WCM. " So we have to make that connection for them and explain to them why it is important to stay in classes such as math, and we need to be providing them with real life examples not just what they see on TV."
Ms. Reynolds has aggressively been advocating for more women to enter into leadership roles in the industry. She believes the education has to start earlier than university. In addition to the job shadow day, WCM has programs that target younger females from grade 9 to grade 11, as well as a student buddy program between high school and university students, and a high-school business case study competition in Ontario.
"All the banks are very focused on ensuring that they have a diverse group of new hires each year that includes women and they are working to change the perception of the industry to attract more women," Ms. Reynolds says. "We are seeing the numbers improve at junior levels and the challenge ahead is to ensure that talented women rise into senior roles and have an impact on the leadership of the industry."
For Ms. Naiman, the job shadow program introduced her to several senior level professionals and in 2011 she landed a summer internship on the CIBC capital markets' trading floor.
"During those four months I was able to work with many individuals who made sure I got involved in every aspect of the business," Ms. Naiman says. "That summer confirmed for me that this was a place where I knew I could succeed."