Her story of embracing the uncomfortable

Fate Saghir, Head of Sustainable Investing at Mackenzie Investments, doesn’t shy away from being in uncomfortable situations — she seeks them out. Today, she brings energy, passion, and resilience to an environment where, for the first time, she is working for a company that mirrors her values. Here’s her story.

Explore less-travelled paths

Growing up in an immigrant household in a small city in southwestern Ontario, my career options seemed limited, but I was determined to carve a different path for myself and was willing to work for it. Upon graduating, I applied for a manager-in-training position at a construction company in Toronto, Ont. This wasn’t my dream job or industry, but it would get me to the “big” city. My exciting first day would be tempered by an executive who reminded me that they generally didn’t hire women into business roles, especially women without engineering degrees. I recall being hurt, but managed to keep it together and replied, “Don’t worry, I’m going to prove you wrong.” I knew it was about the long game and that these experiences would build resilience. That same executive would become one of my biggest champions.

Leap from challenge to challenge

I spent my mid-career exploring different avenues and defining my identity. I had an opportunity to work on an analytics project that brought me to northern Virginia, USA. Two weeks into the project, my leader quit and I found myself leading about 20 business analysts and developers, all experienced and passionate about the world of data. I learned more from them than they did from me, and I had to constantly remind myself of my strengths — I could translate data into insights, build consensus, and lead. My next leap brought me to the Middle East, where I used strategy development and advanced analytics to build new sources of revenue. I struggled during this journey; the cultural differences and gender inequalities made me miss my days on construction sites. At the same time, I refined the skill of defining the ambiguous and the unstructured.

Lean in to overcome obstacles

I returned to Canada with a vision for my life, clear values, and focused expectations. I honed every role to align with my values, put my hand up for new assignments, and kept at it. It wasn’t always easy, but you learn, reflect, and refine — that’s resilience. Today, I have my dream job in an organization whose values align with mine. I’m surrounded by women who advocate for my work and men who believe I can deliver. Diplomacy, collaboration, and determination are helping me build Mackenzie’s sustainable investing business and, just as importantly, allowing us to bring broader awareness of sustainability to the market.

I continue to acknowledge my fears, accept the challenges, and learn to be more resilient.

Watch for the next article in this series in October 2021.
Read our previous article in this series.

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