While attending the Toronto chapter of the Global Association of Risk Professionals meetings, we at TextMedic notice a few dedicated volunteers doing everything from handing out name badges to introducing guest speakers. Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg—these folks also do a lot of unseen labour such as holding organizational meetings and composing e-mail broadcasts and twisting arms of reticent (and busy) subject matter experts.

Thanks to the local chapter, TextMedic has reported in the past on live events about things like pension plan risk, a low volatility equity strategy, and risk data aggregation and reporting.

Since National Volunteer Week is a time to recognize the efforts of volunteers across Canada, we would like to salute a couple of these individuals.  Thank you, Des and Christy!

Profile of Des Alvares

Desmond Alvares, MBA, MBCS CITP, CPA, CMA, became a member of the GARP Toronto Chapter in 2006. His volunteer involvement, as you will read below, is extensive and international in scope.

Q: Can you describe the difficulty (or ease) of acquiring your Financial Risk Manager (FRM) designation?

I had completed an MBA in Finance in 1999 and have my CPA, CMA (awarded April 1, 2014). I have not really had the time to take on the FRM designation, however have been teaching Enterprise Risk Management for the last four years with the Schulich School of Business, York University. I have been an exam question writer for the FRM for operational risk questions and so cannot take the exam at this point.

Q: How many years have you been a volunteer with GARP, and in what way do you serve?

In 2006, I started off as a member of the committee and then was recommended to take on the role of co-Director in 2008. I had attended the Atlantic Financial Forum representing GARP on Career Panel 2008-2010 and developed a University Connect series. I have run events in Operational Risk, Career Forums and Networking. We have raised funds and toy donations each year for Covenant House since 2008.  We created Risk Manager in a Box (video interviews with senior risk managers) to present to universities or remote groups thinking about careers in risk. I helped develop the chapter at Queens University and was one of the first presenters with a senior GARP presenter.

Q: What made you decide to become a volunteer with GARP Toronto Chapter?

One of my friends suggested I get involved as I had previously run a committee for the BCS, the Chartered Institute for IT (I am now the international representative for the council in the UK). We both ended up becoming part of the committee. I was able to bring in a number of ideas that I had used with that group to get more momentum with the GARP Toronto Chapter, which was seen as a leading chapter within GARP. In 2010 the Toronto chapter was asked to develop a program of regular meetings that could be a model for chapters around the world. Other chapters then overtook us in terms of activities in 2011 and 2012. In 2012, with a revitalized committee we established a larger program of events and in 2013 we held the most number of events, had the largest growth around the world, and were one of the top groups in terms of people attending.

I was also able to present at a GARP event in Delhi, India, while I had some time between attending a wedding in Mumbai and attending a conference in the UK.

I enjoy helping others develop and creating opportunities for knowledge sharing.

Q: What are the advantages of doing volunteer work through this group?

GARP Toronto Chapter is a dynamic group with a lot of energy. We have developed a team of people that has grown and developed over time. We have nurtured new volunteers and seen other committee members take on senior roles within organizations. It has been great to see people take on progressively bigger roles, gain the experience, and develop their careers.

Q: What are the disadvantages of volunteer work?

It takes time to get things done and sometime people have other priorities that do not align with the interests of the group. It is sometimes hard to see how much time people are able to commit. Each year there is a need to get more people involved and still keep those that have helped in the past engaged.

Q: Do you volunteer with other groups?

Yes, I have volunteered with a number of groups. [Following is a partial list, with groups, but not Mr. Alvares’ position or years of volunteering.]

Upper Canada Section BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT (UK Based)

Senator O’Connor School

Queen Mary College, University of London

Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario

Knights of Columbus

World Youth Day

Q: What awards have you won for your volunteer work?

In 2012, I volunteered with the London 2012 Olympics as a games maker – as a group, we won a number of awards.

I am also a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Award recipient, Communicator of the year, Big Society Award winner, 2012. ª





Profile of Christy Chen

Christy Chen, PhD, PStat, CFA, FRM, became a member of the GARP Toronto Chapter in 2007.

Q: Can you describe the difficulty (or ease) of acquiring your FRM designation?

The test itself is not extremely difficult. The biggest challenge is time management – how to keep up the usual momentum at work and family life while also squeeze time to prepare for the test.

Q: How many years have you been a volunteer with GARP Toronto Chapter, and in what way do you serve?

I have been working as a volunteer with GARP for four years through attending regular committee meetings, planning and organizing events for chapter members, and reaching out to other organizations and communities to promote GARP.

Q: What made you decide to become a volunteer with GARP Toronto Chapter?

It is a good way to build connection with people working in Risk Management and keep up with cutting-edge knowledge in this field. It is also a very effective way to give back to society.

Q: What are the advantages of doing volunteer work through this group?

Doing this volunteer job gives me a strong motivation to study risk topics and knowledge that I wouldn’t do otherwise. It also helps me to significantly improve my communication, event planning and project management skills.

Q: What are the disadvantages of volunteer work?

I don’t think there is any disadvantage. Of course, there are some challenges such as inviting influential speakers and keeping the commitment to attend committee meetings or organize events regularly. ª


Thank you to both volunteers who were profiled this year. You are an inspiration to us all. There is ample opportunity for community-minded members to find an area to which they can donate their time and talent… so come out and get involved!