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Fontaine & Associates
Nathan Sugeng wasn’t 100% sure what he wanted to do when he started university. Since he was really good in math and sciences, and felt confident he could succeed in the field, he decided to follow his father and become an engineer.
Nathan accomplished his mission, graduating from Ryerson University in 1998 with a B.Eng. (Civil Engineering) and the iron ring that symbolizes the profession. However, he never practiced as an engineer. Instead, he became a different sort of professional: a Qualified Insolvency Counsellor and a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional (CIRP).
“My specific career goal in engineering was to be on the project management side, then move into business management after completing an MBA,” Nathan explains. He decided to complete his schooling right away rather than take a job as an engineer. While working on the MBA at York University, he learned more about other professions and realized he could pursue business management in any field, not just engineering.
He had already spent summers and part-time hours during the school year working for a “Big Five” bank, as a teller and then in various roles in the call centre. After graduating, he briefly worked for a dot-com company before returning to the bank (“Being able to read a financial statement, I realized the bust was coming”). While working in commercial banking, he became aware of the insolvency and restructuring profession through Licensed Insolvency Trustees (LIT) firms he worked with.
Nathan got to know one of the LIT clients well, and the client eventually offered him a job. The benefits included as good or better pay without the frequent relocations that are normal with a banking career. Although Nathan was now settled and at home in Sudbury, he had moved there due to a promotion with the bank after growing up in the GTA.
He immediately enrolled in the CIRP qualification program and began his own journey to become an LIT. He earned his CIRP designation in 2007 and became licensed as an LIT in 2008.
“Being a professional is all about education and training in a specific field and becoming an expert in what you do,” Nathan says. “You're the one people go to when they don't have the answer; and when you don't have the answer, you figure it out based on the training and experience you’ve acquired.”
He adds, “The industry itself is fascinating, and contrary to the stigma attached to bankruptcy, the career is so rewarding. Everyone I help as an LIT is so uplifted by having the weight of debt taken away. It truly changes lives, and that makes our interactions so positive. There aren't many careers where you can help in such a positive way and be financially rewarded at the same time.”
Now Managing Partner with his firm, Nathan makes a point of giving back to the profession. He has been on the board of the Ontario Association of Insolvency & Restructuring Professionals (OAIRP) since June 2015 and is its current president. He’s also participated in many CAIRP activities.
“I've had a rewarding career and a lot has to do with the volunteer work other LITs have done before me,” he says. “It’s the right thing to pay that forward myself.”
As for his engineer’s ring, Nathan still has it, but he stopped wearing it when he started to article as an LIT. “I will always be proud to have completed an engineering degree, but I'm an LIT now,” he says.