How education shaped my life and career 

Connie Bonello with her mom

Education has been a transformative force in shaping my life. It all began when I discovered my love for economics during high school. Growing up in a vibrant, working-class immigrant community of The Junction in Toronto, economics became my lens to understand the world around me. On a personal level, economics helped me make sense of my mom’s decision to move to Canada and the hard work she put into supporting me. And it helped me understand broader macroeconomic concepts such as the impact of government policies like free trade and the challenges businesses face to thrive. 

My mother’s courageous immigration to Canada from Malta at the tender age of 15 — and then becoming a single parent while carving her own path in a new country — instilled in me a deep appreciation for education. Starting from humble beginnings, she worked tirelessly in factories until she retired, sacrificing her health to provide a better future for me. 

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Her daily sacrifices, unwavering work ethic, and mantra — “Get an education so you don’t have to work in a factory, and you can have more choices and a better life” — resonated deeply within me and showed me the importance of making the most of opportunities.

As the first in my family to pursue higher education, navigating the corridors of university — and later the corporate world — was uncharted territory for me. I encountered challenges unfamiliar to my upbringing, and with no one to turn to for guidance, I struggled academically and emotionally during my first year of university. 

However, as I got involved in student groups like AIESEC and the women’s centre I learned the power of seeking help and building support networks. University became a transformative period in my life, where I not only pursued my passion for economics but also discovered and embraced the LGBTQ+ community and feminism, further shaping my identity. 

Transitioning into the corporate world, I initially struggled to understand its dynamics and even retreated into the closet for almost a decade. It took time for me to realize the importance of bringing my full self, seeking mentorship, embracing self-promotion, and navigating office politics. 

With growing confidence, an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and a knack for building genuine connections, I was able to unearth opportunities beyond my wildest childhood dreams. My career has taken me across continents, from the bustling streets of the Asia-Pacific to the historic cities of Europe and from urban financial centres across North America to the vibrant cultures of South America. Rooted in my passion for economics, I now proudly serve as Capgemini Canada’s Insights and Data Financial Services Leader, leveraging data, analytics, and AI in shaping the future of industry. 

Having experienced the transformative power of education, I am dedicated to paying it forward. I actively mentor women and provide them with career opportunities that empower them to grow and flourish. Through my involvement in boards focused on education, leadership, and technology, my aim is to be an example and inspire other women to explore their full potential. 

Through my life experiences, I have collected invaluable lessons:

  • Curiosity is a gateway to opportunity. It has led me to unexpected paths and opened doors I never knew existed.
  • Life’s trials build resilience and character. Each challenge I have faced has been a stepping stone toward growth and development.
  • Authentic connections with others are the bedrock of success. By fostering genuine relationships, I have been able to collaborate, learn, and grow in diverse environments.
  • Embracing uncertainty opens the door for discovery and growth. Stepping into the unknown has allowed me to challenge myself, explore unfamiliar territory, and expand my comfort zone. 
  • Giving back to community enriches your life. Through my community work, I have created meaningful relationships, gained invaluable experiences, made a direct impact in other people’s lives, and strengthened communities. 

In essence, my mother’s example and words, as well as my love of learning, have not only empowered me with knowledge and equipped me with the confidence and resilience to navigate life’s complexities, but they have also enabled me to create positive impact in our communities.


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