The Associate program is a 2-year program with 4, 6-month rotations in different departments of TMX Group, primarily CDS for the time being (The Canadian Depository for Securities Limited). The benefit to the Associate is receiving exposure to various facets of the organization and a conception of how different pieces commingle in a cohesive manner. The benefit to the organization is to foster and nurture young talent (and leaders of tomorrow) to drive positive change/results in a time of great technological fluctuation and uncertainty. I just completed my first 6-month rotation in the operations department (entitlement information) and thought I would share some lessons I garnered throughout my tenure:
1) Learn while working: One aspect of this department which many find challenging is the volume of paper that is printed and dealt with on a daily basis. Every morning, I would spend anywhere between 1-2 hours printing feeds of information necessary to code things such as dividend and interest payments which investors are entitled to. This to the normal person would seem dull, but I figured a fun alternative to doing this task and being productive at the same time. So, I would listen to e-books, TED talks, seminars, interviews etc. anything I could get my hands on (using YouTube) to stimulate my mind while I printed the endless papers. Pumping myself up at the start of the day provided me with a consistent dose of stamina, energy, and drive. There are learning opportunities in every task, activity, department, and team you encounter and engage with. It’s easy to quickly be discouraged and give up, but it takes effort to find ways of enjoying and making the best of what you have.
2) Respect the culture, work with the team, but constantly challenge status quo: A workforce that finds ways to consistently add value is the ultimate ROI (return on investment) an organization can receive. Finding ways to automate processes, generate executable ideas, and even little things such as bringing a positive attitude to work, showing empathy to your colleagues, and being reliable with everything you do are all great tools that enhance the workplace.
3) Don’t bite off more than you can chew: Starting in a more day-day oriented department, I was also anxious and excited about taking on many projects – trying to learn as much as I can in as little time possible. Although having this passion and motive is great, it can be a hindrance with regards to the quality of work one provides in each individual piece. It was a great lesson for me to make sure I consistently execute on what I promise (is expected of me) and not default on my obligation to stakeholders who anticipate satisfactory work.
4) Always take accountability for your mistakes: It was really comforting to know prior to commencing my rotation that mistakes (especially for a new comer in entitlements) are inevitable. Knowing this was important, because although mistakes/errors should be minimized, everyone is prone to hiccups along the way. Mistakes are beneficial to those who learn from them and find ways to reduce their occurrence. Adjusting to the volume of work, variability in scenarios, awareness of emails, and transparency with the team/clients was definitely challenging at first, but a great learning curve. Taking immediate accountability, without making excuses, and apologizing to those affected, will ensure your reputation remains positive.
All in all, it was a great experience and an awesome place to start the program. Having learned the foundations of what CDS does and how it operates within clearing, settlement, and depository services I feel more comfortable moving into my second rotation, product management, and hope to continuously add value to TMX Group.