Although Ravina Bains’ interest in finance started at a young age, she still took a circuitous route to her present role of Vice-President of Commercial Banking/Canadian Wealth Management Sales Integration at Scotiabank. Recently awarded the 2018 Investment Industry Association of Canada Top Under 40 Award, she’s proof that following your passion pays off.
By Shelley White
You could say that Ravina Bains has been preparing for a career in banking since she was a child.
Growing up in Vancouver, B.C., Ravina remembers waking every morning and turning on the TV before school. It was usually tuned to BNN (Business News Network), a channel her dad liked to watch before heading into work. Over breakfast, her interest was sparked.
“My parents were immigrants from India, so the investment and financial industry was where they turned to not only reach their own financial goals, but also to support their children’s goals,” says Ravina, Vice-President of Commercial Banking/Canadian Wealth Management Sales Integration at Scotiabank.
“I even remember my parents taking me to meetings with their financial and investment advisors. So, for me, very early on, the financial and investment industry always represented an industry that helps improve the lives of families and helps them realize their dreams.”
“As someone who has an unconventional academic background for a banker, it’s great to see that organizations such as Scotiabank and the IIAC are recognizing the importance of diversity of perspectives and backgrounds.”
Those early days of inspiration would ultimately lead to Ravina becoming a rising star in the financial services industry. She was recently selected out of 28 nominees to win the 2018 Investment Industry Association of Canada (IIAC) Top Under 40 Award. This annual award recognizes talented young professionals whose accomplishments have brought distinction to the industry and their local community.
“I was shocked, but also very thankful,” says Ravina, of receiving the honour. “As someone who has an unconventional academic background for a banker, it’s great to see that organizations such as Scotiabank and the IIAC are recognizing the importance of diversity of perspectives and backgrounds.”
Ravina took a somewhat circuitous route to get to her current role at Scotiabank. After completing a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Ravina completed not one, but two master’s degrees — a Master of Science in Law from Oxford and a Master of Arts in Asia-Pacific Policy Studies from UBC. She spent the first few years of her career in government, working in the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. After another three years at a public policy think tank, Ravina brought her expertise to Scotiabank, joining the bank as National Director, Aboriginal Financial Services.
Even now, as a busy executive, Ravina is pursuing her PhD. “Education has always been an important part in my life,” she says of her zest for academia. “I like to be constantly learning new things and expanding my knowledge.”
“I’ve benefited from both mentors and sponsors, and I now mentor a number of women inside and outside my industry. It’s extremely rewarding to be part of their professional development journey.”
In her current position at Scotiabank, Ravina builds processes and strategies to help the commercial banking and wealth management services teams address their clients’ needs — a position she finds “extremely rewarding and exciting.”
Her leadership extends beyond her official role as well. Ravina is Co-chairwoman of the Commercial Banking National Women’s Group, which aims to advance gender diversity within the commercial bank. She’s also a committee member of Impact at Scotiabank, a group that promotes mentoring and professional development in the bank’s Wealth Management division.
Ravina has this advice for other young women hoping to emulate her success: “Trust your intuition and believe in yourself,” she says. “Have confidence in your abilities and decisions.”
She also suggests that in order to advance, women need to “be in the driver’s seat” of their careers. “Invest time in your career development, network, seek out a mentor.”
It’s also important to remember to pay it forward, says Ravina.
“I’ve benefited from both mentors and sponsors, and I now mentor a number of women inside and outside my industry,” she says. “It’s extremely rewarding to be part of their professional development journey.”
As for her own career goals and ambitions, Ravina says she wants to continue to work in positions where she can lead a team toward a common goal and help her organization advance. But she also hopes for roles that allow her to give back to the community and help individuals realise their dreams.
“That’s why I love the financial services industry,” she says. “There’s great purpose to the work that we do.”