Described as an influential figure and advocate for IMBA, Shayam Kaushal was also an inspirational and selfless leader who, despite the great discomfort his illness put him through for the last several years, never pitied himself or expected it from anyone else.
Shayam was charitable with his time that he gave to several organizations and people, and is remembered by many for his generosity in this regard. His devotion to the mortgage industry was only surpassed by that to his family, and he will be greatly missed by his wife Anita, son Keshiv and daughter Karishma, his parents Amar and Tripta, his brother Rajan and sister Kiran.
Shayam graduated from York University with a BA, where he was actively involved with student government and athletics as a champion tennis player. He continued his passion to be involved well after his school years in such charitable organizations as the Terry Fox Run and the Alpha
Foundation, not to mention as past-president of IMBA and an active member up until his death.
After actively mortgage brokering for more than 15 years, Kaushal passed away after what can only be described as a courageous and inspiring fight with cancer at Markham-Stouffville General Hospital.
For Shayam business and family went hand-in-hand, as he was a partner at Interfinance Mortgage Merchants, which was started by his father, Amar, and who both his brother and sister work out of as well.
"He would still be putting deals together from his hospital bed with his laptop and cellphone," says Rajan. "Then Kiran, our sister, and I would be doing the back end stuff here."
He adds that even though Shayam would be on the other end of the phone from his hospital bed, he would never let on that anything was out of the ordinary to the person he was talking with.
"He would always find a way to make sure the conversation never dwelt on his condition, but instead was always more about the person he was talking to," says Rajan. "He was very selfless that way."
And it seems that attitude gained Shayam a lot of respect in the industry, as testified by long-time business associate, Pino Decino of Hometrust.
"There is no broker I know that really looked after his clients and his lenders as well as Shayam, and he did it keeping everyone's best interests at heart," says Decino, before adding "He was someone you loved doing business with."
And while the family mortgage business is a Toronto-based, independent brokerage, that doesn't stop them from dealing with people across the country, thanks to Shayam's countless contacts and ability to find untapped niche markets.
"For a local, independent to be getting deals coast to coast is a testament to the quality of business they provide at Interfinance," says Decino, adding that "Shayam wasn't a mortgage
broker - he was a mortgage professional in the truest sense of the word".
One of Shayam's principal concerns was that the family business was thriving and that everyone was taken care of, says Shane Suepaul, a past president and chair of membership for IMBA.
"Interfinance got hit in the early '90s, just like everyone else, and Shayam was the key person in bringing it back up," says Suepaul, adding that Shayam was also the one who encouraged him to join and get involved with IMBA in the first place."He used to tell me he was my guru - I'm 10 years older than him," he laughs. "Even after being president, he still ran the organization, giving advice to current presidents, and even attending meetings via phone from the hospital."
That said, Shayam was also very oriented on his family at home and always made sure everyone was looked after.
Peter Fonseca, who made Shayam his best man when he was married, remembers going for one of their regular runs and describes it as the happiest he ever saw him.
"You could tell something was on his mind because he couldn't stop smiling," says Fonseca. "He promised [his wife] Anita that he wouldn't say anything, but that was when he told me she was four months pregnant with their first child. He was very family-oriented, very paternal."
"Shayam Kaushal was a keystone of IMBA's growth and success," writes then IMBA president,
David Mandel, in a letter posted on its website a day after Shayam's death. It then goes on to recount the long list of successes that Shayam was a key part of, such as "the creation and publication of IMBA's magazine, the IMBA Gala, and much, much more".
It also mentions Shayam's contributions to the growth in IMBA membership, which received his
"I could say that 99% of people would agree that he was the heart of IMBA," says Suepaul. "He
was the real driving force behind membership growth, which is around 1,700 today, but eight years ago it was only 65." Suepaul says that Shayam was never afraid to call people and promote IMBA, and was also responsible for getting a lot of lenders involved with the organization.
Amit Anand, a friend and manager of branch operations at the Money Source, a Toronto-based lender, agrees.
"When he spoke, people took notice and listened," he says, adding that as proof, Shayam's recommendations were adopted by IMBA, such as the education qualifications, licensing requirements and ideas for various trade shows and seminars.
"He was highly respected, appearing in a number of publications and even on CTV News where he was interviewed about the mortgage industry," says Anand, adding that he proved to be a great mentor to a number of people in the industry through his willingness to put other's interests ahead of his own.
Fonseca, who is also the Ontario government's Minister of Labour, recalls receiving at least one phone call a week from Shayam on not just IMBA, but as an advocate for the broker industry as a whole.
"He really wanted to bring up the quality of professionalism in the mortgage industry and was even instrumental in getting the Ontario Mortgage Brokers Act passed," says Fonseca, adding that Shayam would often bring him out to IMBA events as well as the many other charities he was involved with.
The generosity Shayam showed with his time to people and organizations came naturally, as he "loved putting his effort into things and trying to make them succeed", says Rajan, who was inspired by his brother's example to become more involved with IMBA in the future.
"Wanting to do these things is one thing - doing them is another," he says of Shayam, who for all intents and purposes, was IMBA secretary right up until the end.
When Shayam started becoming involved with the Terry Fox run, who was affected by the same type of cancer as him, it was fitting he would also start to train for marathons.
"When he was running you could tell he was pushing through so much pain," says Fonseca. "He had a very high pain threshold, as I know all those surgeries he had to go through were physically and emotionally draining."
Shayam was training with Fonseca, an Olympic marathon runner, to do five- and ten-kilometre runs, which is how they met 10 years ago. "He simply came up to me at the gym and asked me for some tips on running, and he was an instantly likable guy," he says.
Shayam would run races in the Toronto area, but had to pull out of one planned for Vegas because of his worsening condition. Despite that, everyone around him thought that if anyone could beat cancer, it was Shayam.
The night before he passed away the doctors told Shayam's wife, Anita, that the organs in his body were failing, but that his heart wouldn't slow down. While the doctors were surprised - as this is uncommon - for the people who knew Shayam well and for how much passion he put into his life, it made perfect sense.