Inspiring Young Alumni: Catching up with Paul Rasbach ’05
After spending four years at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS), Paul Rasbach ’05 has built his life along with an energetic career in London, England. Despite being 5,721 km away from SMCS, he continues to live a life of faith, character, and service.
Rasbach began at SMCS in Grade 9 in 2001 and was reminded of his early high school days during the recent 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. “It’s one of those moments where everyone remembers where they were when they heard the news,” says Rasbach. “I received it from my friend Tyler Barrack ’05 while walking into music class.”
Rasbach fondly remembers his four years at SMCS. It was a time during which he formed many relationships that have lasted to this day, not only with classmates, but also with coaches, teachers, and administrators.
Since moving to London, Rasbach misses catching up with many classmates at the Turkey Roll & Reunion, but he manages to stay connected to them through WhatsApp and other social media channels.
Rasbach is currently the Head of Product Strategy and Initiatives at Aviva Investors, one of the UK’s leading asset managers. In this role, he is responsible for ensuring the firm has a product set that meets their clients' needs. It’s a dynamic role as it involves constantly assessing the performance of their current product set and scanning the marketplace for opportunities that align with Aviva’s strategy.
While balancing a changing role at Aviva, Rasbach and his wife Alanna currently have much of their attention on their nine-month-old son, Thomas.
Rasbach shared with SMCS what has helped him to become an inspiring young graduate.
What stands out from your time at SMCS?
It was a time of tremendous growth. I remember being struck by the determination of my classmates to achieve in their studies. It caused me to push myself more than I had up to that point and make the most out of the opportunity to learn.
Outside of the classroom, I kept myself very busy with all of the activities the school had to offer. I really wanted to take advantage of them all, playing sports, debating, music, joining a Jewish- Muslim- Christian student congress… I even read the morning announcements.
How did SMCS prepare you for and propel you into life?
The school created an environment that stressed the things that are necessary for you once you’ve left it. First off, being a good person and a contributing member of a community. Reflecting on my own experience, it helped the most with some of the softer skills, like learning to take a joke and not take yourself too seriously.
How do you continue to be involved with SMCS?
I wish I was more involved, most of my involvement in Toronto was meeting with other alumni for the weekly basketball ‘run’. It’s been great to see the efforts the school has undertaken to build connections for younger alumni entering their careers, and I’m especially proud that two of my friends, Matt Montemurro ’05 and Ron Scarafile ’05, are instrumental in this initiative.
How has your Catholic faith supported you?
My Catholic faith serves as the frame of reference for everything in my life, and one that has become more important to me as I’ve grown older. Sitting in Mass and listening to the readings provides such fundamental lessons and thoughts. It also provides me with a weekly opportunity to reflect and remind myself of what’s important.
How do you live out the Basilian motto of Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge?
I do think this motto really has it the right way around because goodness starts first. Even when facing unpleasant conversations or decisions at work I always try to understand other people first.
My personal belief is being a productive person is the foundation for a happy life and discipline is at the root of that. Life certainly tests this (my nine-month-old son certainly does) and gives you more to be disciplined about!
Seeking knowledge has obvious benefits for skills such as finance and management, but I also find it’s just as important in a broader sense. The world is changing at such a fast pace, a lot of which is driven by people with such a diverse set of experiences. Learning and understanding those perspectives, shape my view on where the world is going.
Even though you are across the pond, how do you connect to SMCS within your community or industry?
Most of my closest friends are from my St. Mike’s days. While our connection has been primarily digital over the last year, many of us were able to gather at the wedding of our good friend Dante Di Iulio ’05 in Gardone, Italy, last August. While the setting was different, our Briscola games at the hotel were just as animated as they were at SMCS.
Within the industry, I was very lucky to work at the same firm as Peter Harquail ’05 for seven years before he left to work at Allianz in Munich. Our friendship goes back to our time at SMCS, and I found it immensely valuable to have someone I knew and trusted to bounce ideas off of and get advice from. I’d also add that we formed a formidable defence for the company soccer team.
How do you demonstrate through work that you are being the best for the world?
Most of the funds my firm manages are pensions, so I’m lucky to work on developing products that help people make good pension decisions and have stability in their retirement. This is something that my colleagues and I take very seriously.
I’m also very proud that my firm is taking a leading and impactful approach to sustainable investment. The majority of product ideas that cross my desk involve funds targeting both a financial and sustainability objective, it’s motivating to find and to be able to consider purpose along with profit.
What advice would you like to share with the current SMCS students?
Work hard and keep an optimistic attitude. The opportunity in the world ended up being so much broader than I expected coming out of high school, and you’re certainly well-placed to make the most of it with effort and persistence.
Through the support of his Catholic formation, the SMCS community, and his family, Rasbach continues to find inspiring ways to be the best for the world by developing products and creating an impactful approach to investment.
We are pleased to feature Paul Rasbach as a member of the inspiring young alumni. More inspiring young alumni can be found on our featured wall outside the main office. These young leaders and change-makers represent a variety of fields, industries, and professions from all around the world, living and leading their lives through faith, character, and service.