Charting a path and going for it: it’s about talent, not gender – International Women’s Day

Geneviève Coutu is a Sales Trader for North America with Pavilion Global Markets Ltd. and is based in Montreal.

From a young age, I knew I wanted to be a trader. It all started when I was about seven years old. I was reading the newspapers with my dad on a weekend (mostly the comics section, to be honest) and I asked about all those pages covered with tiny numbers and letters. My father patiently explained the components of a stock market quote and helped me to understand the mechanics of the stock market. He helped me pick and choose companies, taught me about how they fluctuated and reacted to specific news, and build my first portfolio. From that moment I was sold!

When choosing my university program, there was no hesitation; I was going for a Finance degree.  During my first year at HEC (Ecole des Hautes Etudes commerciales- University of Montreal’s business school) some fellow students and I organized the school’s first stock market simulation. This is a project that is still in place today and has since expanded to other Quebec-based universities gaining the support of many large institutions throughout the years. From that point, which was the affirmation of my future path, I knew that I wanted to work in the capital markets.

Right out of university I worked towards my goal by starting as a retail stock trader at a Canadian discount brokerage firm. I knew it was a good way into the capital markets industry.  After a couple years, I had the chance to see my dream come true as I landed a position as an Institutional liability trader at a large bank-owned brokerage firm. My role was to provide large blocks of liquidity to institutional investors for Canadian-based small cap companies. Later, I also joined the Nasdaq Canada project, acting as a market maker for Canadian-based securities listed on Nasdaq.  When I joined Pavilion as a North American Sales Trader, I was able to leverage all of my previous skills and network into a role where every day is different.  That’s what keeps it interesting after all these years.

“Be the best you can be
and be confident in your abilities.
After all it’s about talent, not gender.”


Be inspired and inspire others:  The absence of women in the industry made it difficult for me to have a female role model. Women face unique challenges in the business world, and being able to share experiences and challenges, that men may not relate to, is comforting. Despite this, I have always been surrounded by highly successful women. Even if they are not part of the same industry, they are amazingly intelligent, grounded and highly successful. To be surrounded by people that reflect the person I want to be is a true source of inspiration.

Over recent years, the landscape on gender diversity has shown signs of improvement and there are professional organizations that promote women’s entry and advancement in the industry. Not only are they great networking opportunities, but they also provide you with a support network which can to assist you in taking your career to the next level.

Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize:  I am convinced that prioritization is key to avoiding feeling overwhelmed. Not only is prioritizing crucial when working in a fast-paced environment, but also in home life. I think the best way to alleviate the anxiety of being overwhelmed, no matter what situation, is to take action.  A habit of mine is to create to-do lists, with items on the list ordered according to urgency.  As soon as you engage and focus on the task at hand, there is no time to stress about what is not getting done. To prioritize and focus also gives you the ability to successfully and simultaneously take on a substantial amount of information.

Believe in yourself and your strengths:  By choosing a trading career, a woman is making the decision to enter a male-dominated work environment, but that doesn’t mean you need to conform. If there is one lesson women should take from men, it is to believe in ourselves.  I often second guess myself but I’ve learned not to be afraid to constantly push myself beyond my limits.  It is an uncomfortable process, but it’s also the best way to improve.  You can have it all, but don’t delude yourself, it won’t come easy!  Be the best you can be and be confident in your abilities. After all it’s about talent, not gender.


Read in Pdf