By John Killeen, Vice President, Head of Investment Distribution, Sun Life Global Investments

I had originally set down some notes about my first six months at Sun Life Global Investments, because the more time I spent here, the more I was impressed with what I saw. But I also wanted to reflect on what got me here. I wrote about the forks in the road we all face, and decisions I made at various times.

Things changed a lot in a short time in the spring so I decided to rewrite. Right now, we’re in a “we” world, not a “me” world. We’re all looking at a fork in the road, but this is a really unfamiliar road. There will be a lot of change decisions coming out of this time, many out of necessity rather than choice. But I would encourage you to think about the difficult decisions you’ve made in your past, and where they led. Good and bad choices both have lessons, and I’ll share a few of mine.

Choosing financial services

After I graduated from Dalhousie University (Poli-Sci/English), I landed a position as a client services associate in Toronto. My initial foray into the financial services industry. It was great! I went from being essentially a mailroom temp to being a full-time CSR in eight months, as management began taking a liking to me. A clear trajectory for my career was beginning to show and it was evident that I would have to make a decision on my future soon.

I absorbed so much about the industry, including my learnings from friends and colleagues about the opportunity to move into a sales role.  I always prided myself as someone who was good at building relationships; why wouldn’t I want to work in a field where that was the main barometer of my success?

This all came to a head in a notable meeting with management. After a short time, they offered me to be a team lead for my department. Should I say yes and risk being typecast in a role that I was not sure was part of my ideal career path anymore? Should I say no and turn down a significant promotion in the off chance that I can succeed in sales instead?

While those are some of the cons of each decision, weighing the pros made me realize what I really wanted to do. I quickly turned down the offer, shook my director’s hand, made a beeline to the National Sales Manager’s office and told him two things:

The good news: I’ve been offered a position as team lead of my department.

The dilemma: I would rather work for you.

Two weeks later, I was wholesaling as the regional sales manager for the Golden Horseshoe region in southern Ontario, and I have not looked back since. I have had other forks in the road in my past – both professionally and personally. Many times, I made the right decision, but the few that I didn’t taught me a lesson on what do in my next opportunity in my career and personal life.

Today… and beyond

What has Sun Life Global Investments taught me about forks in the road? When I first wrote this, I emphasized that this fork led me to a good place. I wrote about the world-class product offerings. As the company navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic (as people and companies around the world are doing), my view is the same – and different. Now I’m seeing the Client-first culture, the preparation and attention to risk, and the leadership. I’m also seeing adaptability, creativity and resilience as my teams adapts to a fully virtual approach to outreach. I’m proud to be part of this team, because it really is acting as a team.

While we all know that the past does not determine the future, it certainly contributes! Everybody has hit a fork in the road in their life – a deciding moment that significantly altered their trajectory. What was yours? And how are you going to use your experience to help you make choices today?

This commentary contains information in summary form for your convenience, published by Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. Although this commentary has been prepared from sources believed to be reliable, Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. cannot guarantee its accuracy or completeness and is intended to provide you with general information and should not be construed as providing specific individual financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily the opinions of Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. Please note, any future or forward looking statements contained in this blog are speculative in nature and cannot be relied upon. There is no guarantee that these events will occur or in the manner speculated. Please speak with your professional advisors before acting on any information contained in this blog.

© Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc., 2020. Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies.