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Five questions with Daniella Carrington

Ontario Teachers’ Managing Director of Pension Risk speaks about Black History Month, organizational culture and personal career journey

Daniella Carrington

In honour of Black History Month, we sat down with our new Managing Director of Pension Risk Daniella Carrington to talk about her new role at Ontario Teachers’, what she values most about working here, and the importance of fostering an inclusive culture. 

Tell us a bit about your time at Ontario Teachers'. What motivated or attracted you to join Ontario Teachers’? What do you love most about working here?

Daniella Carrington: I joined Ontario Teachers’ last year as Managing Director of Pension Risk. It was a great fit for my experience and future goals. As I learned more about the organization and met more people through the interview process, I was motivated by its clearly defined and communicated organizational values which genuinely aligned with my own.  Since then, I’ve been continuously impressed by the commitment to living these values day in and day out. What I love most about working here is the people: the diversity of perspective, skills and experiences are truly remarkable.

Tell us about your journey into the investment world and how you got started.

DM: I was born in Trinidad and Tobago and came to Canada at age eight with my family, settling in Kitchener-Waterloo. Growing up, Kitchener-Waterloo felt like a hub for actuaries. The University of Waterloo has an actuarial science program, and a few large insurance companies have head offices in the city, where my parents worked. While they weren’t actuaries, they were familiar with the profession. I was good at math and when they suggested I explore it as a career, it all seemed to line up. After university, I moved into actuarial consulting to pension plans, and then into investment consulting as well. I enjoy problem solving and helping people – both of which I can apply to pension risk management.

“In relation to the workplace, people show up best when they can be themselves. Sharing, recognizing and celebrating their own culture is fundamental to this.”

What advice do you wish you told your younger self that you now provide to people starting their careers?

DM: I would say “don’t be too focused on the finish line.” In my personal life as a sprinter and in my professional life as an actuary, my endeavours had very defined finish lines and goal posts for measuring “success” along the way.  It was very easy to set  a goal and take comfort in executing on a training or study plan.  At the same time, it would have been a good reminder to add some flexibility in those goals and their execution. Vision and direction are important, but I would have reminded myself to step back occasionally to ensure there wasn’t something in my periphery to take note of, and that changing course is completely fine.

Living in a rapidly changing world, what skills are essential for us to be good colleagues and leaders?

DM: Ontario Teachers’ values reflect essential skills, with agility and curiosity being the most important in a rapidly changing world.  As we explore new challenges or tools, we should remain open to asking ourselves how they are similar or different to those we have seen before, as well as thinking about how our existing tools, processes and approaches may or may not serve us as we move forward.

Why do you feel it’s important to celebrate diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and days/months of significance such as Black History Month?  

DM: Black History Month has always been important to me and I have always believed in learning about heritage, history, where I came from and how I got here. I was raised with the teaching that I would have to work twice as hard to be considered the same as others. It wasn’t until I got older that I better understood the weight and dismay of having this history continue to inform how I act and how I teach my children to act today. Black History Month is essential for this, and also paramount for teaching a celebration of their own skills, history and resilience.

In relation to the workplace, people show up best when they can be themselves.  Sharing, recognizing and celebrating their own culture is fundamental to this. From a more encompassing point of view, education and learning about other cultures encourages empathy and the ability to place ourselves in one another’s shoes which I think is central to life as a global citizen.  Ontario Teachers’ does a great job through the various Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to raise awareness and celebrate such cultural days of significance as Black History Month. It’s one way they foster a culture of learning and mutual support.