RBC International Women’s Day 2012 – Career Snapshots

Azmina Jiwani

Azmina Jiwani

Vice President & Appointed Actuary, RBC Life Insurance Company
Group Risk Management – Insurance


Why did you decide to enter the financial services industry? Was there a particular person or moment that influenced you?

It was mostly driven by my career choice – most actuaries are employed by the financial services industry. I had a great calculus professor who inspired me with math applications such as actuarial science to solve business problems. The same year, I attended a career fair held by a major insurer, learned more about the profession, and I never looked back.

If you were talking to someone who’s never worked in your RBC business group, how would you describe what you do and what you like best about your job?

Our insurance policyholders trust us to pay claims in times of need. I have to ensure that the company has set aside enough assets to pay claims and expenses for as long as the policies exist. I also partner with all levels of management to put risk/reward into perspective and provide guidance for profitable, sustained growth. My greatest satisfaction is seeing all areas of the organization working together to realize business goals.

What's been the greatest challenge of your career to date and how did you deal with it?

Being able to think outside of self imposed limits on ‘what can be accomplished’ is important. I deal with it by challenging my own thinking and beliefs and being open to new ideas. My nine year old son reminds me that dreams are free.

What's your definition of a great leader?

Someone who is able to engage, inspire and motivate people to a greater calling then they could have imagined.

How about a great employee?

Someone who is self-motivated, trustworthy, is a few steps ahead of me and champions others.

If you could travel back in time and speak to your younger self – what’s the best career advice you could give her?

You are doing all the right things, enjoy the present. Stay the course and be confident that the experience and knowledge that you are accumulating will help you later, even though it doesn’t seem obvious now.

A lot of our readers have told us they would enjoy hearing a little bit more about your life when you’re not at the office…

I love being outside. I have an affinity to water and nature. I like to go for long walks in the woods, swim in the lake, and go cross-country skiing with my family on a sunny winter day on freshly fallen snow that no one has touched.

Aside from spending time with family and friends, what’s your favourite thing to do when you have time to yourself?

Catch an energetic fitness class. It gets rid of the work day stress, energizes me and boosts my confidence to take on new challenges. I also like to curl up with a great book, although that is more likely to happen when I am on vacation.

What book is on your nightstand right now?

A few trade journals that I strive to keep up to and the newspaper. Waiting to be cracked open is The Progress Principle. Half read is a book about cognitive behaviour. I save the fiction for extended holidays.

Who’s your favourite singer or band?

I don’t have a strong opinion on this. I listen to classical music to relax and think.

Best vacation you ever took?

I have never had a bad vacation. My best family vacations are always the ones at the cottage because I get to connect with my husband and kids far from city distractions. The ‘non cottage’ vacation that stands out for me is a trip that my husband and I took to Newfoundland, before we had kids. We drove about 3,000 km chasing icebergs and taking in the natural beauty. I have a big map of Newfoundland with all the scenic sites as a constant reminder, in my house.

Finally, who has been the most inspiring women in your own life and why?

I am in awe of the big political and religious leaders for what they have been able to accomplish. However, my daily inspiration comes from family and the women I work with. I see strength of character, personal sacrifice, constant juggling, adaptability - all while maintaining composure. They are my superheroes.

Any other comment, words of advice or favourite quotes you would like to share to inspire others?

“We can do anything we want to do if we stick to it long enough." - Helen Keller