Career Story



Samra Zafar

Director, Business Finance

My resilience and success come from the leaders who have faith in me, which empowers me to have faith in myself.



Why did you decide BMO was right for you and why do you love working here?

The bank’s commitment to social justice, diversity, inclusion and equity resonates strongly with my personal values. As a speaker, author and social entrepreneur, I advocate for human rights, education and empowerment, and being part of a culture which I can align with is very important to me. From the time of my interviews to now being part of the BMO family, it has just felt like the right fit. I’m continuously inspired by the authenticity of my leaders, which enables employees to bring their whole selves to work and unlock their true potential.

What is your proudest moment working at BMO?

Many proud moments in my short time here, but a few stand out.

1) Seeing BMO being named as one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies by the Ethisphere Institute.

2) An email by our CEO Darryl White, in my first week at BMO, about the importance of inclusion being a leadership priority, and embedded in the company culture. That email made me so proud to join BMO.

3) A personal heartwarming moment was seeing the announcements on BMO’s LinkedIn and Twitter, to celebrate my book and commitment to social justice and human rights. Being supported so wholeheartedly by my employer inspires me to bring my best and whole self to work and add maximum value every day.

 In your experience, what has made you successful at BMO?

Our biggest strength lies in our humanity. I consistently push myself to be more authentic and allow myself to be really seen for who I am as a person, which has allowed me to build human connections and genuine relationships with others. My resilience and success come from the leaders who have faith in me, which empowers me to have faith in myself. I strongly believe that resilience and success are collective. I also make it a priority to pay it forward – as my leaders and mentors have taught me that true empowerment lies in empowering each other.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

The privilege to be able to touch lives! I feel honoured that I can help empower others through my work and my voice. Seeing others shine and knowing that I may have had a small part to play in their success – the sense of purpose and joy that brings is unmatchable!

What has helped you in your career development and what lessons have you learned along the way as you explored new opportunities at BMO?

What has helped me: Being self-aware and pushing myself to be vulnerable enough to ask for help and feedback. I actively seek mentorship and pursue new ways of doing things. It’s not always easy to do that – but I believe it’s necessary to build trust and connection with peers and leaders and strive for continuous learning and improvement.

Biggest lessons: It is much better to be true to who I am than try to be perfect or fit into a mold. With success comes the responsibility to pay it forward and support others – because I wouldn’t be here if people hadn’t supported me.

What are you currently working on that is helping you build on different skills?

Currently, I am working on establishing a framework and a niche in helping women entrepreneurs become more successful, through business financing, mentorship, education and knowledge. As a bank committed to the empowerment of women, we have a great opportunity to leverage our resources and expertise to support women entrepreneurs at all levels. Working on this is helping me unleash my creativity, collaborate with key leaders across the various businesses, and build on the wonderful platform and work that is already being done in the bank.

What excites you about the next year ahead?

I am very excited to get to know colleagues and leaders across the organization and add maximum value to the organization.

How would you describe your experience and career at BMO in 1 sentence?

A career journey where differences are celebrated, and a sense of belonging is created, that empowers me to bring my best to work and beyond.




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