Crunching numbers and building dreams

Arnav Gupta (he/him), a third-year Honours Mathematics and Business Administration student, is making a name for himself in finance, one co-op term at a time. He shares some key advice on the value of online courses and volunteer opportunities, how to manage stress and how to remain adaptable when facing new challenges.  


Arnav's co-op journey


Work term one: Through the Waterloo Experience (WE) Accelerate program, Arnav worked on projects with Deloitte. Alongside a team of co-op students, he researched and developed creative solutions to meet stakeholder needs. 

Work term two: Next, Arnav accepted a logistics apprentice position at Traffic Tech. Working in both customer service and finance, he negotiated with carriers to ensure cost-effective options, performed financial analyses and data entry with a 98% accuracy rate. 

Work term three: At Goodmans LLP, one of Canada’s leading law firms, Arnav worked as a finance co-ordinator to forecast financial trends, spearhead successful financial audits and develop tools to maximize financial document analysis.  

Work term four and five: In his most recent co-op term, Arnav worked for Deloitte as a financial analyst. Acting as the point of reference between leaders and colleagues, he was responsible for creating financial reports, supporting the annual planning process and reinforcing strategic goals.  


Q&A with Arnav


headshot of Arnav in front of a lake in the forest. What do you love about working in the finance industry? 

“I love working in finance because it’s dynamic and challenges me. I also love harmonizing data and witnessing the tangible impact of financial strategies. Currently, I have been working on various reports for supply and demand analysis, as well as some other key performance indicators (KPI) for external client services (ECS). Basically, we are suggesting a strategy for the ECS department within Deloitte.” 

“Finance is a fast-paced environment that fuels my passion for innovation and adaptability. In the future, I really want to work in client facing roles because I like the client engagement side of the industry. I also want to try to move into capital markets.” 


Arnav leaning against a colourful wall.Speaking of fast-paced environments, what challenges have you faced throughout your co-op terms and how did you overcome them? 

“There are several challenges that I faced throughout my co-op terms, like managing extensive and actual data. We need to make sure that we are auditing and maintaining the accuracy of every single report.” 

“To reduce the time spent auditing, I utilized Excel and other database systems to streamline reporting processes which resulted in significant time reductions and high precision. For example, at Goodmans LLP, I created an auditing program which reduced the time spent incurring transactions.” 

“Apart from this, at Traffic Tech I had to manage multiple tasks and deadlines simultaneously. To tackle this challenge, I organized my calendar and workflows to reduce complaints by 25%. I also tried to reach out to customers as soon as possible so that we could address all the complaints or issues. I feel like the multitasking skills I learned in that specific co-op are still helping me currently.” 

“Each challenge has taught me the value of adaptability, quick thinking and utilizing available resources effectively to overcome hurdles. They also strengthened my ability to innovate solutions and emphasized the importance of continuous learning in a professional landscape.” 


What was your experience with the WE Accelerate program? 

“COVID-19 was in full swing when I came to university, so it was hard to find co-ops during that time and I didn't have any experience. WE Accelerate was one of the initiatives that the university started for students who weren’t able to find co-ops because of hiring freezes.”  

“In WE Accelerate, we were working closely with business leaders at Deloitte. They gave us a problem which they were facing at that specific point in time and in groups of four to five people we needed to propose a solution. In the end, the business leaders told us that our suggestion was really good and they’d try to propose it to their superiors.” 


You managed to hold a 98% accuracy rate at Traffic Tech. What tools and techniques did you use to achieve these impressive results? 

“There were various tools and techniques that I used to attain this result.” 

“I primarily used TTSLS, which is a local tool that Traffic Tech uses to process payments and entries. I also used Microsoft Office to improve the accuracy of my data entry and assure meticulous attention to detail. I would say that double-checking information and consistent cross-verification of financial transactions were pivotal techniques that contributed to a high level of accuracy.” 


Arnav in front of the CN tower at night.You’ve worked with Deloitte on two occasions, what made you want to return? 

“I was introduced to the business leaders of Deloitte during my first co-op with WE Accelerate. I really liked their collaborative work culture and their commitment to innovation." 

“My team members are always there to help. If I had any doubts, I just reached out to them and they explained each and every task.” 

“When you apply for a full-time position in the future, all the knowledge gained during co-op will definitely help. It's the small things that really matter in the end. All the small things will add up and help you out in your full-time position.” 


What projects are you most proud of from your co-op terms? 

“During my time at Goodman’s LLP, I developed a finance forecasting tool using Excel, enabling a comprehensive analysis of financial trends. This resulted in an approximate 10% increase in annual revenue.” 

“At Traffic Tech, I optimized operations by implementing cost effective carrier options which led to a profit increase of approximately $30,000. Additionally, I improved the auditing of all workbooks.” 

“At WE Accelerate, I, alongside my team, applied human centered design principles to craft a solution that boosted customer satisfaction by 20%. We surveyed different groups of people to understand what specific things they wanted to implement. This reflects my ability to innovate, analyze data and collaborate with team members.” 


Arnav standing in a lake.How have you dealt with stress over the course of your co-op terms? 

“The forecasting period at Deloitte is a super stressful time. I’ve stayed at work until late evening on some days. So, I would say the first thing is time management and organization. I list out all the tasks that I need to perform in a day and see which ones are of highest priority so that I can get those done and send them over for review.” 

“I would also say effective communication is very important. Reach out to your superiors and ask questions. At Deloitte, we have a buddy system so we can reach out if we have any doubts or just want to talk about life. For example, my buddy was senior financial analyst and we discussed the steps he took to achieve his most recent promotion.” 


Can you recommend any courses or resources for students interested in financial analysis?  

“I would say go on different websites like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera. There are so many courses related to finance. On Coursera, I took a course in financial markets and another course in Python programming. I also took courses on Bloomberg Terminal, which offers specific courses to get into the finance industry.” 

“Apart from that, participate in volunteer experiences within the university. I did many volunteer roles in my first two years and I'm still volunteering. In my first year, I was vice-president academic (VPA) and vice-president operations (VPO) of MathSoc. Some other roles include math/business undergrad representative of the Mathematics Endowment Fund (MEF), at-large director of MathSoc, math councillor representative of WUSA and finance coordinator for the Universal Finance Organization (UFO). Currently, I am the chair of the Mathematics Graduation Committee (MGC) and a mathematics ambassador. Having relevant volunteer experience can help you get a co-op because you can add it to your résumé.”  


Arnav on a trail standing in front of a tree in the fall. What’s next for you? 

“My immediate focus is to further my career in financial analysis. I’m aiming to secure a role that allows me to apply my analytical skills and financial expertise. I'm particularly drawn to opportunities in consulting or within capital markets. I want to contribute by making informed decisions and analyzing market trends to provide strategic financial insights. I'm also planning to pursue a professional designation or a master’s program.” 

“I still have one more year to go before I graduate, but that’s my five-year plan. After that? I’ll see where it goes.” 

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