Meet Diana and Sabin Munteanu, and their daughter Clara Elise
It’s a story that starts out as we often hear: parents moving to Canada, speaking little English, but through hard work, strong family values and a zest for life, they establish themselves here.
“It was not an easy transition for our parents, especially leaving a comfortable and successful life behind in Romania”, said Diana and Sabin. Since then, their families have always lived in Don Mills or nearby. Both Diana and Sabin quickly managed to fit into the Canadian way of life through various sports, activities and extracurriculars.
“We met at the University of Toronto (U of T) in a ‘fun’ advanced mathematics class. It was called ‘Calculus!’, as though an exclamation mark is really necessary after Calculus,” says Sabin. Diana and Sabin would soon also take on the leadership of U of T’s Romanian Students Club and founded the U of T Statistics Club. They both graduated from the Actuarial Science program with jobs lined up while still in school. “Our efforts in university paid off and we did so while having fun in a variety of clubs, activities and events on campus,” said Diana and Sabin. “Job recruiters love meeting students with a unique story.” Now they give back by mentoring and helping other students land their first actuarial job.
Outside of his studies, Sabin was always very involved in sports, amongst other extracurricular activities. He swam and played tennis at the provincial level, before getting into rugby and eventually playing at the National level through his teens and then representing the Varsity team during his years at U of T. Nowadays it’s a combination of golf, tennis, volleyball, biking, and hiking. You’ll often see him carrying a cute little person around in a green backpack around the neighbourhood - but more on that later.
Diana’s passion is music and theatre. Over the years she’s been a part of various musicals, plays, choirs, and bands, but “playing guitar or piano is still my favourite way to relax,” said Diana. She moved to Toronto mid-way through high-school and quickly got involved in a variety of activities. She has been continuously involved in giving back to the community - “I don’t know how we make time for everything, but the thrill and joy drives us!” she says.
Diana advanced quickly in her career as an actuary in pension consulting. “I love what I do because my work has a positive impact - it helps improve people’s lives during retirement. I also connect closely with my clients, which makes work even more enjoyable.”
To become a fully accredited actuary, one’s studies continue while working full-time. “I’m really excited as I recently passed my final professional exam and will soon officially be a Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Actuaries (CIA) and of the Society of Actuaries (SOA). This title is comparable to a PhD. I’ve been dreaming of this moment for years!” says Diana. She is a senior actuarial consultant at LifeWorks (formerly Morneau Shepell), just down the street.
“That’s how we found this wonderful neighbourhood. It was in 2015, before we were married. We’d been looking at condos, but when we found these row houses – freehold – we felt we could take on a bigger mortgage since we wouldn’t have to support condo fees.”
Sabin started out his career in Pension Consulting as well, attaining his Associate designation in the CIA and SOA, however he found his passion after making a big change in his career path, into Enterprise Risk Management. He is now a Director of Non-Financial Risk at Home Trust. “It’s only been a few months and working in the industry vs. consulting is quite different, but I really enjoy my new role so far. My mandate focusses on enterprise-wide risks, so it is quite broad and full of new challenges in a company that’s very dynamic. It draws parallels to things I enjoyed in consulting when I worked at KPMG previously, but with the advantage of a more relaxed schedule.”
Climate risk management is one of Sabin’s focuses at work. He develops strategy for the organization to reduce its carbon footprint and ensure climate change is integrated into business decisions. “I’m quite intrigued by this topic. The impact of climate change is visible globally, and truthfully, a majority of the world is really quite immune to just how severe it is. People continue to consume without trying to reduce, reuse and repurpose, and think recycling will move the needle significantly. Even at the height of Covid-19, reputable risk organizations said Climate Risk was more severe than the pandemic!”
Diana and Sabin expanded their family just before the global pandemic kicked off in March 2020. “We absolutely love having Clara in our lives,” says Diana. “We integrated her into our active lifestyle as soon as we could. The 1st day home with Clara, it was 10 degrees out, but we bundled her up and went for a walk.” When she was just over one month old Sabin wore Clara in a Boba Wrap and finished an 8km hike with her. "At about 5 months she was already sitting up-right which meant she could be in a backpack carrier and we ended up hiking Mont Tremblant with her numerous times,” said Diana and Sabin. Their next vacation is on the west coast for a road trip and hiking through the Okanagan Valley, Kootenays and Rogers Pass in BC.
You’ll often see Clara in our local Greenbelt Park with Diana, Sabin or one of Clara’s grandparents. “I think you catch the theme here, right? Work hard, play hard,” says Sabin. “We spend time indoors working, but love spending our free time outdoors. That’s why this neighborhood is so dear to us. Since we moved in 5 years ago, we’ve gotten to explore a lot of outdoor activities around the area right from our doorstep, and to top it off, it’s a community of genuinely nice people.”
“We are very happy here. We love that our neighbours are friends,” says Diana. “Now that Clara is walking, we love that we are right on the park. She spends much of her days outside interacting with all the kids here.” Clara is at the Playhouse Daycare nearby and “she absolutely loves it.” says Diana. “We’ve made so many friends here. This is our home,” said Diana and Sabin. “Being part of the community has always been important to us, and here we feel welcome."