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By Sasha Milam, Gustavson Content Curator

Meet Zack Poirier, BCom ’18, one of the inaugural class of nine student portfolio managers in UVic’s newest applied learning initiative: the Applied Portfolio Management Program (APMP). With oversight from an investment advisory committee made up of industry professionals and UVic faculty, the first cohort of APMP students managed a portfolio totaling just over $500,000. (This fund has since grown to over $1.1 million, thanks in part to an additional $500,000 that students invest on behalf of a British Columbia Investment Management Corporation client.)

Says Zack of his time at Gustavson: “BCom provided a really well-rounded education, which prepared me well for a role that requires strong quantitative skills, as well as writing and interpersonal skills that I developed during my pre-core and core courses. I graduated with an unspecialized BCom degree, where I was able to take finance electives in fourth year at UVic and on exchange in Poland. The COM 405 program also supported my successful attempt at writing the CFA Level 1 exam during my final semester at Gustavson.

“My experience as an APMP portfolio manager helped me tackle the challenges of my co-ops and my current role as a corporate finance analyst at Gibson Energy,” says Zack. “The cross-disciplinary nature of APMP catalyzed experiential learning in macroeconomics and financial mathematics, as my fellow portfolio managers outside of BCom dove deeper into these topics during their third and fourth years at UVic. While I didn’t end up working in the investment industry or financial services, the equity analysis skills I developed in the UVic APMP are highly transferable to my current role on the corporate side of finance.”

He also found the APMP program helpful in lending insight to what a career in the investment industry could look like. “The mentorship component of APMP was another incredible experience. I was lucky enough to be matched with a mentor who shared some of his wealth of experience, provided coaching and invaluable advice, and indulged my curiosities about the field of finance.”

Before his graduation in November 2018, Zack completed two co-op terms at Gibson Energy that eventually led to his current full-time role (“The co-op program was by far the most critical part of BCom in terms of getting hired full-time after graduation,” says Zack). He spent a semester on exchange at Kraków University of Economics, and earned a Jamie Cassels Undergraduate Research Award for his paper on the social and political context of energy infrastructure in Poland.