By Erin DeBooy
Brandon University alumnus Naseer Malik credits his success to his experience at the university and the connections he made there.
Now Malik makes it a priority to pay it forward, giving current students the opportunity to excel while carving out their own path to a successful career.
“The connections that you make at Brandon University, I don’t think you can make them anywhere else,” Malik said, adding that it was through connections to previous students that pushed him to attend the university in the first place.
“I heard from other students how good Brandon University is in building those connections. I’m a Brandon baby, being close to home and family was a big thing for me as well … but the reputation of the university in the community played a big part also.”
The university’s reputation continued to stand out for Malik even after graduation, he said.
“Every time I went for an interview, everybody knew Brandon University and the capabilities of the students who graduate from that school. That’s what I felt great about,” Malik said. “When I got my first job, they knew right away that I came with a strong knowledge base and skill set. Brandon University teaches students how to think independently and how to take on projects on your own.”
Malik graduated with a Bachelors of Business Administration, with an honours degree majoring in Finance and Management. He currently works with the Bank of Montreal, where he was recently promoted to Vice President of Mortgage Specialists for Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Northwestern Ontario.
It’s a bit of a shift from where he started, which was in science.
“I wasn’t really enjoying the whole lab life, and I took some business classes as electives and found I really enjoyed those. I was also working part-time in the sales environment and customer service, so from there I thought, ‘I think I’ve found my calling,’” Malik said. “ I like numbers, and I like people, so it just made sense that I put numbers and people together. That’s how I got into banking.”
While he did work part-time while in school and was active in community and charity work through the business club which is now Enactus Brandon, Malik said he did find it challenging to find professional work experience while attending university.
That’s why it is important for Malik now to hire on Brandon University students to work with the BMO team, he said.
“I have 10 third and fourth year Brandon University students working for me right now, BMO is very pro-Brandon University and hires a lot of students from the program,” Malik said. “Students are the future … if you don’t give them a chance, how will they progress and learn?”
Malik implores other businesses to give students a chance as well, adding that they bring a lot to the table that many teams don’t realize.
“The best part of working with a students is they’re going to listen and learn, and then do the job with 110 per cent of their heart,” Malik said. “They work hard and they love feedback. All the students that I’ve hired over the past five years have progressed into higher roles.”
To new students, Malik said to start early in building a reputation for yourself, take on a part-time job to start building experience, get involved in giving back to the community and find a mentor.
“If you can do all that, you’re going to be ready for the future,” Malik said. “Stay positive, don’t give up, don’t get discouraged … don’t be scared to give new things a try.”