2012 Outstanding Young Alumnus
The Globe and Mail have pegged him as one of Calgary's up-and-coming young entrepreneurs. Local talk show radio QR77 has turned to him for on-air advice as a trusted wealth advisor. He's been nominated for a spot on Avenue Magazine's top-40-under-40 achievement roster for the past two years running.
It's clear that Desmond Nwaerondu, SAIT's Outstanding Young Alumni Award recipient for 2012, has wasted no time making a name for himself. At just 26 years of age, Nwaerondu has earned professional recognition for his social media savvy approach to being a financial advisor, redefining how to connect with clients and catching the eye of top Sun Life executives in the process.
Though his career seems to be on its way up, Nwaerondu doesn't hesitate to take the time to give back. He volunteers his time teaching financial literacy skills to new Canadian immigrants, serves meals at a Calgary homeless shelter, spends his holidays' building homes for Habitat for Humanity, hosts an annual fundraiser for Cancer research and is the Chair of SAIT's Financial Services Committee.
Des Nwaerondu, Financial Advisor, Sunlife Financial; Chair, Survive & Thrive Cancer Programs
"I think everyone has been brought into this world to do something extraordinary. Going out and giving back is something I've always done. It's more about being connected and fostering togetherness. The more you give, the better your feel. There is more to life than 'me, me, me.'
I have been involved with the Alberta Cancer Foundation, and I run my own cancer fundraiser, Des Fights Cancer. It's an annual fundraiser that has raised over $45,000 over the past six years to help people financially who have been diagnosed with cancer. I have also been on three out-of-country Habitat for Humanity builds and am planning another one.
In my career, I think the most rewarding aspect is helping people understand their finances better. There is a real lack of financial literacy in Canada. There are always economic challenges, especially in Calgary when the price of oil drops. My challenge in the past was my age. I started off as a young advisor at the age of 24 when I didn't necessarily have the background that people would normally look for. But I worked to share my knowledge and be positive.
As for advice, I would say just never give up. Keep looking for opportunities. The route I went is not the route most people would go. Don't think that route is set in stone — you can literally do whatever you want. In the next five years, I am looking forward to buying my own office building.