York to the Power of 50: Accomplished alumni ‘speed mentor’ students

Prominent York alumni and friends returned to the Keele campus to share the secrets of their success with students at the University’s Speed Mentoring event on Sept. 23.

Top students from a wide range of disciplines gathered inside the CIBC Lobby of the Accolade East Building to connect with a “who’s who” of industry leaders from the fields of business, media, arts, entertainment, law, government and more – giving them a chance to benefit from a breadth of experience.

See a video of the event below

Among the alumni who participated in the evening were Craig Kielburger (EMBA ’09), founder of Free the Children and co-founder of the Me to We social enterprise; Ernie Eves (LLB ’70), former premier of Ontario; Mark Breslin (BA ’73), CEO and founder of Yuk Yuk’s International; Colleen Johnston (BBA Spec. Hons. ’82), group head of finance and chief financial officer, TD Bank Financial Group; and Barbara Budd (BA ’74), co-host of CBC Radio’s "As it Happens".

Right: "CP24 Breakfast" co-host and York alumna Melissa Grelo served as MC

“The roster of mentor names here this evening is eye-popping,” said "CP24 Breakfast" co-host and York alumna Melissa Grelo (BA Hons. ’02, BEd ’02), who served as the evening’s master of ceremonies. “What an impressive group and living proof of the benefits of a York education.”

Based on the popular concept of speed dating, speed mentoring pairs students and mentors for a series of five-minute one-on-one sessions. Students came armed with questions on a variety of topics ranging from career and academic advice to the importance of extracurricular activities and life coaching.

The answers they received did not disappoint. Students said many of the mentors encouraged them to follow their passions, keep their options open and take advantage of opportunities as they arise. 

Left: Bradley Badeau (MBA ’82) (left), senior vice-president & CFO of Burgundy Asset Management Ltd., and student Ali Qamar

Psychology student Salva Sadeghi said she found inspiration in the personal stories of each mentor. “The best part was that you could make a personal connection and see how this person was once in your shoes. So if I do what they did – keep my drive and my motivation – I can make it too.”

Mentors were more than happy to share with students the benefits of their wisdom and experience. Former Conservative MPP David Tsubouchi (BA ’72, LLB ’75) wondered about the possibilities if such an opportunity had been available during his days as a York undergraduate.

Right: Justice Michael Tulloch (BA ’86, LLB ’89) (left), Superior Court of Justice, and student Simone Samuels

“If I had a mentoring system when I was in school, it may have given me better insight into what my career was going to be,” said Tsbouchi. “It gives you a chance to find out the skills you need to acquire and the attitude you need to have to get where you want.”

Mamdouh Shoukri, president & vice-chancellor of York University, said “York’s roster of talented alumni continues to grow with each passing year. Today’s event is an excellent opportunity for them to give back and lend a hand to the next generation.”

Left: Broadcaster and corporate director John Tory (LLB ’78) (left) and Ivan Fecan (BA ’01, Hon. LLD ’08), president & CEO of CTVglobemedia, CEO of CTV Inc. and York University Foundation board member

Shoukri thanked all the mentors who donated their time to help shepherd York students toward their life and career goals.

Following the mentoring portion of the event, representatives from the Atkinson Students’ Association presented the University with a cheque for $50,000, inclusive of matching funds from the Ontario government. The funds will benefit student aid in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies. Special recognition was also given to the Italian-Canadian Federation at York, which pledged to raise $25,000, including a match by the Ontario government, for an endowed award. These gifts are a part of the York to the Power of 50 fundraising campaign which is now at $190 million toward its $200-million goal.

Above: Paul Marcus (left), president & CEO of the York University Foundation; Guy Burry (BA ’82), managing director of Tenth Power Inc. and a member of York’s Board of Governors; Bill Hatanaka (BA Comb. Hons. ’77), group head, wealth management of TD Bank Financial Group, chairman & CEO of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc. and York University Foundation board member; Saad Pasha and Ali Qamar, representatives of the Atkinson Students’ Association; and Mamdouh Shoukri, president & vice-chancellor of York University.

Sponsors of this event included CISCO Systems Inc. and the York Alumni Perks Program. York University’s Speed Mentoring event is a highlight of York’s 50th anniversary celebrations, sponsored in part by TD Bank Financial Group, Enbridge Inc., Cineplex Entertainment LP and CTVglobemedia, and supported by patrons, The S. Schulich Foundation, Tim and Frances Price and the Lambert family.