Managing director and head, CIBC Capital Markets – BC
Kathy Butler has worked in investment banking at CIBC for 22 years. That’s highly unusual, she notes, explaining that she stays for the reasons that attracted her in the first place. After an investment banking presentation at U of T’s Rotman School of Management, where she got her MBA (finance with honours) in 1996, Butler thought, “That is absolutely what I want to do.” She enjoys the mental challenge of puzzling through different scenarios, helping clients solve their financing or strategic problems, and the camaraderie of working with smart people on project teams.
Butler joined CIBC Capital Markets investment banking in Toronto right after graduation, moving back to B.C., where she’d obtained a BComm in finance with honours at UBC in 1992, five years later. Born in Jamaica, she moved here in 1987 from Toronto after previously living in Portland, Oregon, where her dad was a branch manager. On weekends, she went into the banking centre and pretended to be a banker, playing with withdrawal and deposit slips.
She often works with technology companies, which she loves because of tech people’s passion, drive and commitment to doing something different. Butler is a partner in the Social Venture Partners Vancouver philanthropic initiative. “It’s run sort of like a venture capital firm,” she says. “The partners fund not-for-profits, and you coach them and help them succeed on their business plan and their mandate.” She also serves on the board of governors of the Business Council of British Columbia.
To encourage others to enter the field, Butler talks to high school and UBC students about finance as a profession, as well as recruiting and mentoring informally. Unlike in retail and commercial banking, gender diversity on the capital markets side is still a challenge. “It remains a concern to all of us, and we continue to really reach out and promote the opportunity within the finance industry,” Butler says. Selling features are that no day is the same, there’s always a challenge, and finance opens up a variety of career paths—the skills acquired and the knowledge gained are applicable to running a company. —Felicity Stone
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