It was serendipity that brought Lara Zink from Vancouver to the University of Western Ontario (now Western University) and the keen interest she developed in politics in grades 11 and 12 led her to study political science. “I visited a great aunt in London while in high school and thought the Western campus was amazing,” says Lara.
Lara’s journey, from graduating with an Honours BA degree in political science to working as part of the federal government team that negotiated the NAFTA agreement to a long and successful career in finance, was a non-traditional one. Her experience makes her a role model dedicated to helping women overcome barriers to entry and to ensure that leadership, representation, and gender equity exist within the finance industry.
Lara’s degree in political science and experience working with the Young Conservatives as a teenager led to a role as political assistant to federal Member of Parliament Michael Wilson, then Minister of International Trade and Industry Canada. “I loved my two years working in Ottawa,” says Lara. “I was able to speak with members of Parliament and their staff about the benefits of NAFTA to Canada and traveled to Washington for the final stages of negotiation of the agreement.”
After two years on Parliament Hill, Lara wrote the GMAT exam and applied to business schools, including the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto where she ultimately earned her MBA. Although she had hoped to return to Vancouver after graduation, job opportunities were more plentiful in Toronto. After considering options in marketing and private wealth, Lara chose to enter a corporate lending training program with RBC in Toronto. She started in business banking and moved to another lending group in RBC’s financial institutions group before embarking on a 20-year career in global equity sales and trading on the trading floor at RBC Capital Markets.
When she left RBC in 2019, Lara paused and considered her next career move. “While exploring job opportunities during the pandemic lockdown, I threw my name in the hat for the position of President and Chief Executive Officer of Women in Capital Markets,” says Lara. She joined WCM, the largest network of women in finance whose mission is to accelerate equity, diversity and inclusion in finance, in 2021. Lara led WCM in developing programs to unite the finance industry in supporting EDI in capital markets and delivering research, programming and strategic value to the organization’s sponsors, members and stakeholders.
Lara left WCM in September of 2023 to join a woman-led asset management company, Delaney Capital Management, where she currently serves as Vice President of Client Service and Development.
Lara’s commitment to embracing equity and helping women succeed, both in the finance sector and as company founders, is reflected in her role as a member of the board of Canadian Women’s Network, where she will work to help Canadian female founders grow and secure funding. She recently joined Sherry Shannon-Vanstone and Deborah Rosati to create Women Funding Women (WFW), a collective aimed at addressing the persistent funding gap faced by women founders in North America.
WFW, which will launch on February 7 in Toronto, brings together organizations and resources committed to empowering women, offering gender equality, and catalyzing economic growth by increasing access to seed funding for women-led ventures. Lara’s vast experience in capital markets and her passion for driving change and ensuring women’s success is key to the work that WFW will do to increase access to funding for women founders.
Lara’s professional success in the finance sector, her belief that strategy and culture differentiate organizations, and her work as a leader and mentor for women – as entrepreneurs, funders and investors – have made her an influential champion for equity, diversity and inclusion, and a powerful initiator of change for women’s access to venture funding.
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