Life Lessons of Empathy and Giving Back

Thursday, October 1, 2020
by Abirna G., AFM Student

SAF students from the Spring 2020 International Study Trip virtually met with alumni and dignitaries mostly from New York City. Although the course focused on NYC, SAF students were still able to expand their reach to meet with other alumni and dignitaries spanning from Hong Kong to California. I ended up virtually meeting with Kelvin Tran from NYC who offered me educational and informative knowledge that I will use to help grow my career.

Kelvin Tran is the current Chief Financial Officer of TD Bank in NYC. He started his career at Deloitte before taking the helm at TD Bank. TD continues to stay competitive by helping their customers in these unprecedented times of a global pandemic. Kelvin also talked about the importance of giving back to the community. He explained that when you are in a position to help, you are in a privileged position.

Kelvin went on to explain that there are no successful people who got to where they are today without help along the way. Holding a leadership position emphasizes the importance of being dependent on team members, and other co-workers. At times, it may be easier to just want to do the work yourself, but it is important to continuously invest and train co-workers to help build an effective and efficient team. Investing in co-workers and providing sufficient training aids to the success of the team and the overall company mission. In managing a team, Kelvin acknowledges that your management style needs to be flexible, as some team members require more oversight and direction while others require more independence to get their work done efficiently. Kelvin noted that to be a good leader, it is important to be empathetic, understanding, and flexible to motivate change.

Kelvin also emphasized the importance of having a positive attitude. Every company contains very intelligent and talented people; however, nobody is so vital to an organization that they cannot be replaced. This made me realize the importance of always putting my best foot forward and being continuously self-motivated.


Kelvin’s insights are something that I will remember for the rest of my career. He explained quite clearly the importance of helping your community. He also emphasized the importance of education and leadership which really resonated with me. In Canada, education is mandatory, but there are so many places around the world with underprivileged individuals who cannot afford education or basic school needs. These individuals are limited in their opportunities for success. I count myself lucky for having been born in Canada and having access to an education. Kelvin has motivated me to pursue my true goal of starting a not-for-profit organization to help those in marginalized communities gain access to education.