Alumni Engagement

Two-time RRC Polytech grad works her way up in finance while fostering inclusion

May 8, 2024

Fisyani Sinyama moved to Canada from Zambia in 2008, only a year after the global financial crisis. You might think the circumstances would repel someone from working in finance, but that wasn’t true for Fisyani.

“I was really interested in learning how the financial system works,” Fisyani said.

Fisyani’s husband arrived in Manitoba ahead of her and studied Computer and Information Systems Technology at RRC Polytech, landing a job with Great-West Life after graduating. Her husband inspired her, and she decided to study International Business in 2009.

Fisyani said one of the things she appreciated about International Business was the instructors, and how they accommodated, celebrated, and understood that their students were from different cultures with different customs.

“There was a lot of group work, which I was not used to. I struggled with it in the beginning, but I’m glad that I stuck with it,” said Fisyani.

“When I did my law diploma in Zambia, the work was very individual-centric. Then I came to Red River and was put in an environment where answers, ideas, opinions, and suggestions were discussed. All of a sudden, the lecturer’s answer wasn’t the end to the question…they were there to guide your thought process.”

Fisyani did a work placement during the program at the Winnipeg Airports Authority, which further helped her get a feel for Canadian workplaces.

“It prepared me in all sorts of ways…if I didn’t go to [the] College, I would have struggled in my first job for sure.”

After graduating from International Business and having her first child, Fisyani became a Customer Service Representative at Western Financial Group in 2011.

“I did well at Red River, which just lit a flame in me to go back and take more courses…I was looking for a job in investments and wealth management,” she said.

In 2012, Fisyani went back to RRC Polytech and took part-time courses in Business Administration with a focus on Financial Services.

“If I had to give any advice, I would say that International Business is broad,” Fisyani said. “The overall program is great, but to get value, look at the individual subjects and start thinking about what interests you and where you could see yourself based on the subjects that you’re taking. Just be open-minded. You might not land where you want to be when you’re done your program, but if you continue adding different courses and certifications, you will get where you want to be.”

With her new job skills, Fisyani secured a job at IG Wealth Management in 2017 and has worked there ever since. She is now a manager and part of the Investment Advisory Team.

“The biggest skill I got out of the College was definitely relationship building. I would say that set me up well for the different roles that I’ve had in my career so far. RRC Polytech taught me to collaborate, ask questions, and ask for help.”

“What I do as part of my current role involves asking a lot of questions…it’s a lot of collaboration, as you can imagine, because you are working with a lot of data, on multiple tasks at a time, delivering to different stakeholders. You have to be very comfortable talking to people and feeling vulnerable sometimes.”

Fisyani says one of the reasons she loves her current employer is that IG Wealth Management makes opportunities accessible so all employees can take advantage of them in a way that best works for them. One way the company does this is by creating Business Resource Groups (BRGs). Through BRGs, employees can attend different events, seminars, and courses to advance their personal and professional development and come together in community.

“DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) is very big at IG. I was the co-chair for the Black BRG for the last two years until just recently, and I really love the opportunity to expand my network. The work of connecting people usually would fall on an organization, but with BRGs, employees are now deciding on how and where they want to connect.”

“I personally believe BRGs are a game changer when it comes to building community in the workplace. New employees join a company, especially in the last three years with people getting onboarded remotely, and feel like they’re on an island. But with BRGs in place, they can join a community of people whose main focus is to connect, connect, connect.”

At work and outside of it, Fisyani is an advocate for African culture. Post-graduation, she also produced two seasons of a show called Home Is Here! for Shaw TV (now Shaw Spotlight) through her media company, Fanks Media. On the show, she interviewed people from several countries that make up Manitoba’s diverse cultural landscape. Fisyani has also published a children’s book, Mr. Tickles, inspired by her two sons.

Fisyani explained that arriving in Winnipeg with her husband and starting from scratch, both financially and in terms of understanding Canada’s financial systems, was another reason she wanted to pursue a career in finance. She said that what she learned at RRC Polytech in her Financial Services major not only gave her the skills she needed for her career, but it opened her mind to what was possible and taught her how to build wealth.

“We asked ourselves, how do you buy your first house? Where do you get $50,000 to put down on a house? Like, how do you even get there? The Strategic Investment Planning course (now called Personal Financial Planning) opened up our options. It allowed me to understand how investments get taxed and things like that.”

Beyond job skills, Fisyani learned many life lessons at RRC Polytech that have shaped her. She’s currently working on her second book, and she attributes her strong desire to share her unique voice through writing to her Communication instructor, Murray Moman, who she says “has a very humorous voice.”

“The momentum I built at Red River set me up to be where I am today,” said Fisyani.

Profile by Raegan Hedley (Creative Communications, 2016).

RRC Polytech campuses are located on the lands of Anishinaabe, Ininiwak, Anishininew, Dakota, and Dené, and the National Homeland of the Red River Métis.

We recognize and honour Treaty 3 Territory Shoal Lake 40 First Nation, the source of Winnipeg’s clean drinking water. In addition, we acknowledge Treaty Territories which provide us with access to electricity we use in both our personal and professional lives.

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