Hannah Askin

Role: Total Benefits Administrative Support

Department: Human Resources

Location: Waterloo King

Saint Mary’s University, Bachelor of commerce, 2nd year

What is your current role at Sun Life?

My role at Sun Life was to update various organizational projects for both the Pensions and Benefits teams.  In order to do this, I worked with two teams of four to update multiple data bases and Excel spreadsheets containing retired employee information. I also worked on a Certificate of Existence project in order to identify and locate new addresses for retired employees.

Getting started

Sun Life has a great reputation both globally and within the Kitchener-Waterloo community. I wanted to work for a company that is not only community minded, but also has many opportunities for a business student like myself. For example, the Rotational Leadership Development Program (RLDP) is a stand out postgraduate program that gives new grads the experience of three completely different roles in Sun Life. Lastly, I was intrigued by Sun Life’s atmosphere. Being around the company it is obvious the employee’s respect Sun Life are passionate about their roles and look forward to coming to work every day. The atmosphere is inviting, friendly and innovative.
I believe what made me stand out during the interview process was my preparation and communication skills. Before my interview I made sure to research Sun Life, the company’s goals and their community involvement. I also took time to talk to people I knew who worked for Sun Life and learned more about the company through their personal experiences. During my interview I wanted my hiring manager to really get to know me as an employee and learn about my long term goals for my career.

Your role

While at Sun Life my days varied during the week. Three days a week I worked with the pension team completing a clean-up project for one of Sun Life’s Defined Benefit providers. On these days a typical day would start out by planning what my work load goals were for that day/week. I would then organize the files and paper work needed and search to locate information to complete a full picture of these retirees for our provider’s records. During this time, I maintained an Excel spreadsheet and verified current payments on our database.

The other two days a week I worked for the Benefits & Wellness team on a Certificate of Existence project. My role specifically was to use returned mail from retired employees and search multiple databases to locate where the member resides. In addition to my daily tasks, I also had the opportunity to sit in on benefits meetings regarding work load trends as well as Wellness Ambassador meetings that coordinate various activities throughout the company.

Sun Life was my first internship at a financial institution so I came into the workplace with little knowledge about the organizational processes and expectations. During my first meeting I was exposed to terminology and acronyms I didn’t understand. My manager quickly realized that I was lost and encouraged the group to explain their positions in more detail for my benefit. Everyone understood and was very supportive and took a keen interest in helping me learn. All of my people leaders were excellent communicators and helped me understand my role and the value I was providing. 
The most satisfying part of my job was completing tasks that made my co-workers lives easier and more productive. The most useful skill I learned was seeing the dynamics of a large financial institution and how every role connects with our customers.  I also enhanced my Excel skills as I was required to perform complex calculations on my projects. It was very satisfying being part of a team that was passionate about their work and displayed enthusiasm and commitment to their roles.

Working at Sun Life

One of my favourite things about Sun Life is the culture the company has built. I was lucky enough to work closely with two wonderful teams and build strong relationships with all of my co-workers. It was easy to make friends in the office because everyone was very open and inviting. I enjoyed coming into work in the mornings to see the many smiling faces. The motivation and ambition was contagious within the office and it was a great model of the company’s culture.
Three of my favourite things about working at Sun Life are the atmosphere, opportunity and experience.

Advice and insights

Sun Life has two great postgraduate programs, the RLDP program as well as the Account Executive Development Program (AEDP) . Both are highly competitive, well respected and sought after positions. It would be an honour to obtain such a position and would be an incredible developmental opportunity for anyone.

A tip to students who hope to start at Sun Life would be to leverage the SLF network. I met many contacts who I know will be invaluable to me in the years ahead.  Challenge yourself to make a new connection weekly and keep in touch with them. Everyone at Sun Life is friendly and willing to share their expertise. Having a wide network of connections at Sun Life can help you learn more about specific areas in the company and also provide you with more potential career opportunities. Some of which you may not have even considered. 


Next steps:

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