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The Toronto Sun CareerConnection

New Canadian trader comes out on top

By Sharon Aschaiek
Special to The Sun

In the fast-paced, high-stakes world of the stock market, Switina Kawadkar is a rising star.

"My job is intense, exciting and fun," says Kawadkar, a proprietary trader with Swift Trade. "Success can be a relative term, but frankly, I am happy with whatever I have achieved so far."
When Switina Kawadkar moved to Canada from Mumbai, India, with her husband four years ago, work wasn't easy to find.

A modest statement for someone who trades between 700,000 and 1.5 million shares a day, altogether worth about $1 million. Trading shares on the NASDAQ, NYSE and AMEX exchanges, Kawadkar continuously follows market trends, researches institutions and monitors stock movements to determine what shares to buy, when to buy them and when to sell.

She also has just minutes to make these pricey decisions. Her two golden rules are as follows: Keep a stock for an average of two minutes, but never for more than 10; and decide how much you're willing to lose on a trade ahead of time, and then staunch your losses as quickly as possible.

She's experienced some costly losses, but she usually comes out on top.

"Mistakes have cost me at times $400 in only two minutes, but a good strategy has led to making $3,000 in 10 minutes," Kawadkar says. "How much you net at the end of the day is all that matters."

Things weren't always so prosperous for Kawadkar. When she moved to Canada from Mumbai, India, with her husband four years ago, work wasn't so easy to find.

She'd assumed her successful six-year career back home working in arbitrage on the Indian National and Bombay exchanges would give her an edge. Instead, her job-seeking efforts were stymied by the lack of a work permit.

"The employers wanted me to have a work permit in hand, whereas HRDC [Human Resources Development Canada] wanted me to have an offer of employment letter from an employer before they could issue me a work permit," says Kawadkar, 30. "As a result, I had to wait for close to two years till I received my landed residency status before I could even start looking."

During those two years she achieved her certified financial planner (CFP) certification to build on her previous education. What she discovered when she began approaching employers, however, was that her Indian education -- and her years of industry experience -- counted for very little.

"In a way it was a double whammy as neither my degrees nor my work experience from back home meant anything in Canada."

But that didn't deter Kawadkar, who persevered on her job search and used employment agencies to help her. She wasn't going to settle for a job outside of her field until she'd exhausted all her options.

Her search led her to Swift Trade, Canada's leading proprietary trading firm with 38 offices around the world. At first she was rejected by the company's Toronto and London offices. Then she approached its Hamilton branch with one request: "Just give me a chance and I will prove myself."

She has already done so, many times over. Today, Kawadkar is one of the top traders at Swift Trade's Hamilton branch and consistently ranks among the top 10 traders in the entire company.

She currently lives in Hamilton during the week and commutes to London on the weekends, where her husband has been pursuing his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business. She plans to continue building her career in the growing area of proprietary trading.

But how is she so good at what she does?

"Discipline, a good sense of timing, attention to detail and patience are the main contributors to my success," Kawadkar says. "Patience allows me to wait for the right opportunities rather than throwing good money after bad."

For Kawadkar, it's a philosophy that has worked both at work and in life.

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