The Young Donor of the Year Award is given to one extraordinary alumnus or alumna each year who has set an incredible example in giving back to the Telfer School of Management early in their career. This year’s recipient, Kim Angèle Vallières, the Vice President of the Risk Management Segment at NFP Canada, has been a dedicated member of Telfer Nation since her studies. Vallières was an actively involved student during her studies in the Bachelor of Commerce program at Telfer from 2013 to 2017. Her unwavering commitment to giving back to the School and supporting a new generation of business students and her commitment to paying it forward to future business leaders led her to receive this recognition.
Giving Back to Students
Vallières fully supported herself when studying finance at the Telfer School by working three different jobs. During this time she spearheaded the Financial Open — the largest academic Case Competition in finance and accounting in the country — and participated on the executive boards of two student clubs, the Telfer Accounting Club and the Telfer Entrepreneurs’ Club; all at the same time. Working full-time hours while also studying full-time and volunteering in extracurricular activities is no easy feat: “It’s a vicious cycle — to get financial aid, you need grades; to get time to study, you need financial stability; to do extracurriculars, you need more time,” shares Vallières.
Scholarships and grants are vital to make education accessible and open employment opportunities to many students like Vallières, whose parents could not afford to send her to university. Persevering through resilience, she paved her own way and has now been paying it forward by giving back to students who may have similar experiences to hers.
Vallières believes that education and opportunities provided at university should be accessible to students regardless of income: “Telfer was a great experience and I enjoyed my time there. I told myself that when I graduated, I would give back,” she shares.
One of the ways Vallières is giving back is through the establishment of a scholarship she created with no grade requirement, so BCom students can focus on their studies and extracurriculars without additional stress when completing their programs. This generous dedication to her alma mater and compassionate support of the new generation of students is the reason why Vallières was named the Young Donor of the Year.
Developing Invaluable Soft Skills Through Student Experience
In 2017, Vallières hosted the Financial Open Case Competition, which to this day, remains her favourite student experience at Telfer. Presiding over the organizing community, she worked with a team of fellow Telfer students to bring together 400 participants from 11 different universities all over Eastern Canada. During the Financial Open, students competed to solve cases in finance and accounting, followed by a presentation of their findings to a panel of expert judges. Grateful for the support of the Telfer School to host this event, she was happy to show her Telfer pride and represent the School while gaining invaluable student experience. This Telfer Nation passion is a big part of Vallières’s outlook to this day.
Case competitions, especially in students’ specializations of choice, are instrumental in developing skills in leadership, budgeting and sponsorship management, as Vallières learned. “Soft skills gained during my student experience really made a difference in my career — most of the job is client-facing so it’s learning how to talk to different people, making presentations to people who have different experiences. You will always have different people doing things differently and you need to know how to work with them and adapt,” shares Vallières.
After completing her BCom degree, Vallières continued to participate in the student body and in case competitions, taking on the role of the Vice President of Competitions at the Students’ Association of Management Faculties in Eastern Canada (RÉFAEC). Then, she became the president of the entire organization and represented more than 40,000 business students in Eastern Canada, all while beginning her career at Marsh Canada.
The Importance of Studying and Getting Involved
Outside of student experience, Vallières also placed a big emphasis on earning high grades in order to excel in her future career and meet the requirements of potential employers. In hindsight, she realized that while grades are very important and many organizations do pay attention to cumulative grade point averages (CGPAs) when assessing resumés, soft skills like presenting oneself confidently and demonstrating an understanding of a business also matters. She often refers back to the knowledge she gained in her classes in her current role, recalling the presentation practice she earned in her Business Communications Skills (ADM 2381) course that allows her to make concise and engaging presentations to C-Suite members.
Connections Are Everything
Today, Vallières works in insurance and risk management, enjoying the challenges each day brings, and working with clients in a variety of verticals (aviation and manufacturing, passenger rail, sports, and entertainment). She has learned something new every day for the last five years and is looking forward to continuous learning in her dynamic work environment.
Vallières earned this opportunity to establish her career with Marsh Canada in part thanks to her formal education at Telfer: “Telfer treats students like adults, like equals. François Julien, the Dean at the time, gave us access to important connections when I was working on the Financial Open.” She wsa about to gain new skills and connections through the program that she cited as helpful drivers in her career. In addition to her extracurricular student experience, Vallières was chosen to participate in the Executive Mentorship Program at Telfer, pairing up with two different mentors for two years, which also had a huge impact on her career. Today, Vallières feels a sense of family and support with the School and wishes the best for her fellow alumni.
It is this sense of connection and desire for giving back that she feels is paramount to establishing a happier society — aligning with one core pillar of Telfer’s Vision for a Better Canada. She feels that in a happier society, other key pieces naturally fall into place. If individuals find happiness, then it can lead to their ability to focus on their careers and work towards building familial wealth.
Looking ahead to the future, Vallières is excited to continue growing in her role at Marsh Canada and progress to more senior roles, now with the Young Donor of the Year Award added to her impressive list of accolades. We look forward to seeing just how much more she will accomplish in the future and thank her for giving back to the student experience at Telfer.