Reflecting on CPCIS One Year Later


The career journey of the private capital professional can vary significantly from person to person. But if you ask why they pursued a path in the industry, you will inevitably discover the common thread that bonds them, and it is not just about making money.

From the opportunity to meet smart people and hearing their great ideas, to the excitement of starting new companies, growing existing businesses, and making the world a better place — it’s certainly a profession that can provide a sense of purpose and meaning. Finding satisfaction in your work is crucial for being happy. It has never been a more important consideration for pursuing a specific field: knowing you will be happy in a rewarding job and not questioning the decision you’ve made.

With exposure to various sectors, top-tier networking opportunities, and relative job security, how can you get closer to a successful career in private capital?

In 2019, the CVCA partnered with the Ivey Academy and developed Canada’s first highly specialized program that is preparing the next generation of private fund professionals in the country. The Canadian Private Capital Investment School (CPCIS) is the first program specifically designed for junior-level and new entrants into the private capital sector, focusing on the development of foundational knowledge and skills for the world of private capital investment.

The first cohort of the program wrapped up nearly a year ago and the response has been positive.

We followed up with Maria Nsouli, Vice President, Impact Investment Fund at BMO to find out about their career journey, their thoughts on the CPCIS and how their career trajectory has changed since the program.

Tell us about your career journey before going into the CPCIS program.

Maria Nsouli: Similar to the majority of VC investors, it was a winding path. I started my career in international affairs and international development, wanting to do good for the world and, as counterintuitive as it might seem, the Lehman crisis piqued my interest in finance and I decided to go into banking. I first worked in sales and trading and later in corporate banking. I went into venture capital because it was entrepreneurial, and I wanted a role where I had more agency to create value at company and real economy levels.

What were the considerations in your decision to pursue this next step in your professional development?

Maria Nsouli: I found it a great way to connect with other Canadian colleagues in VC, learn from some of the well-known industry professionals, and keep abreast of new developments in the industry. And of course, source deals!

What was your first impressions about the program? What did you think afterwards?

Maria Nsouli: The program was well developed. The pace was also well gauged, usually a program is too light or too heavy. In this case, it was just right.

What part of the program did you enjoy the most? Which part was the most important?

Maria Nsouli: Hearing about how the investment environment and deal terms changed over the years from instructors that have had long investment or operational careers. We have a tendency to think that current investment trends are here to stay, and this year more than ever, we have witnessed that environments can change or tighten quite unexpectedly.

Tell us about your career journey following the completion of CPCIS program?

Maria Nsouli: For the past few years, I had been observing the evolution of impact investing from the sidelines and noticed a big shift in 2018 – 2019. Large corporates and large investors were now taking the lead in ESG discussions and taking active measures to address sustainability. This resulted in bolstering impact investing strategies where financial return and social/​environmental impact were no longer competing with each other and rather seen as complementary forces that can help achieve greater financial return while mitigating ESG risks that investors and society as a whole were facing.

Interested in taking part in the impact investment space, particularly as it was shaping itself, I joined BMO to help launch the Bank’s new Impact Investment Fund. The fund is a CAD $250M fund that is aimed at driving more sustainable outcomes around the world by backing technologies that will help BMO and its clients proactively address sustainability strategically and create positive impact for their stakeholders. The fund mainly invests in early stage and growth companies in cleantech that are located in North America and Europe.

Is there any one thing that surprised you about the program – something you were not anticipating?

Maria Nsouli: The dedication of the CVCA staff to making the program a success stood out during the whole week as they worked around the clock to make learning seamless.

Would you recommend taking the CPCIS program?

Maria Nsouli: Definitely.

The next cohort of the CPCIS begins on January 13 and features fourteen distinct modules with teamwork opportunities. The program is supplemented by informative guest speakers. Last year, guest speakers included senior leaders from BlackRock, OMERS PE, RBC Capital Partners, Brookfield Private Equity, Real Ventures and many more. Stay tuned: 2021 guest speakers will be announced soon! To provide a safely distanced learning experience, CPCIS will be delivered through a series of live virtual sessions.

As a benefit, CVCA members receive a 25 per cent discount for the program. Learn more about the CPCIS and register here.