Name: Terry McCullough
Years of experience: 5
Occupation: Professor, George Brown College, Centre for Financial Services Education, School of Business and Design
Q. How did you get started in your industry?
A. I had been involved in the financial services industry for the better part of 15 years and was approached to teach a summer course at the college. The experience was extremely satisfying, to the point that I made a decision to teach as a career and joined the college on a full-time basis in 2004.
Q. Describe the ideal qualities a person should have to succeed in your industry?
A. The profession of post-secondary education demands a commitment to continuous improvement and George Brown College has a mandate to providing teaching excellence as part of their academic strategy. To be able to function at a high level, teachers must be empathetic to the student population — which today is extremely diverse in culture and individual needs.
Q. What kind of background, either educational or other, best suits someone starting out in your industry?
A. The minimum requirement to teach at the college level would be a master’s degree in the particular field of study and additional education. In the case of personal finance, that would also include the Certified Financial Planner designation administered by the Financial Planner’s Standards Council. Continuing education is a cornerstone of developing within the profession and it is common for a professor to enter with a master’s degree and during their tenure complete a doctorial degree.
Q. What do you like most about your job?
A. Unquestionably the greatest reward is to observe and be part of the personal growth of the students. It is a wonderful feeling to have an employer call and request a reference about a specific student; it is at that point you know they have just landed a great position and it is all the more satisfying in light of the industry being extremely competitive.
Another great perk about the job — and it is hard to call this a job when you love going to work each and every day — is that you get paid to learn.
Q. What are the most challenging aspects of your industry?
A. Finding and establishing a balance between work and home life is the most challenging goal. Juggling the demands of teaching, personal improvement, and the everyday challenges on the home front requires organizational skills. Dropping the ball on one front will affect the flight of the others.
Q. For newcomers to the industry, what tips would you offer them?
A. It is my belief that getting your successful career underway starts before you enter the industry. I would suggest individuals look hard to find a career they are passionate about and set well-defined strategies to achieve entry into that field.
There is a big difference between a job and a career. The former provides a paycheque while the latter provides intangibles such as self-satisfaction, enjoyment, and the formation of friendships. If going to work feels a bit like going home, then it is probably a family atmosphere. If you have that feeling, then your career is probably on the right track.
Q. What kind of local associations/organizations/volunteer activities would you recommend?
The financial services industry has a structure for those entering the industry. Taking the initiative to complete the Canadian Securities Course positions one to enter the industry, and after that, obtaining the Certified Financial Planner designation opens many doors to furthering your career.
I am always impressed when I see volunteer activities on a resumé. It is a clear indication that the individual not only has developed some team building and communication skills but is also organized. Finding time to help others when life is full of other demands shows a strength of character.
'Big difference between job and career'
Name: Terry McCullough