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From Bay Street Back to School

Submitted on Monday, June 04, 2018

Students Shawn Jung (Class of 2019) and Sukanya Srichandra (Class of 2018) in Toronto’s financial district, where they both work

Neither Shawn Jung nor Sukanya Srichandra studied business for their undergraduate degrees, but they both ended up working in Toronto’s financial services sector immersed in data. And when they later decided to go back to school part-time to acquire additional skills and upgrade their credentials, they both chose the University of Toronto’s Master of Information Program.

As home to Canada’s big five banks, the vast majority of foreign banks operating in the country, and the Toronto Stock Exchange, Toronto is North America’s second largest financial centre and a major employer of university graduates.

With a degree in economics and international studies, Srichandra landed her first post-university job in 2010 at the Investment Funds Institute of Canada before moving on Franklin Templeton Investments and then to Central 1 Credit Union where she is now a securitization and funding manager.

After completing his undergrad in math and philosophy, Jung started work as a business analyst at CIBC in 2010, where he has since climbed his way up the ladder to a senior manager position in the bank’s private wealth management division.

Jung originally contemplated further studies in computer science but while looking for a summer course, he discovered the Faculty of Information by “pure luck.” After some further research, he decided the Information Systems + Design (ISD) concentration was the right program for him. While Jung enrolled in 2014, he also became a father along the way which has limited his study time. He’ll graduate in 2019.

Srichandra, who’s also in the ISD concentration, was attracted to the MI program because “it had the computer science component and it also had the humanities component.” Both she and Jung had done coding courses and picked up further programming knowledge in their jobs, but neither of them wanted to move completely to the tech side.

Describing the MI program, Srichandra says, “It’s given me what I need to understand information systems design process. The Python course really formalized some of the concepts that I knew a bit.”

 In her current role at Central 1, Srichandra has been heavily involved in process automation, drastically reducing the amount of time needed to perform certain tasks from days and weeks to mere hours. She sees herself as a bridge between finance and IT at a time when “a lot of the roles are becoming a lot more data and information focused.”

Jung makes a similar point, emphasizing that companies are looking for candidates who “can narrow the gap between business and technology” by communicating the business side’s needs and understanding how a data project might be implemented by IT. “I enjoy dealing with the data,” he says. “I feel very happy if what I produce plays a role by bringing down costs or supporting campaigns. I see my role as more supportive.”

“Any issue that arises these days is never solely business and never solely technology,” Srichandra says, describing herself as a “hub” or “node”” and stressing that she doesn’t want to lose her “interdisciplinary mindset.”

Both she and Jung have appreciated the new perspective that going back to school, after years in the workforce, so often provides. But getting a Master’s degree is not without its stressful moments. Finding a course to fit the work schedule. Juggling life with a young family as Jung did. And completing the program in two years as Srichandra did.

With graduation now on the horizon, the pair are imagining what it will be like to get their lives back, And how much easier working on Bay Street will be without homework.