Schulich honours its outstanding grads

photo of Brenda Zimmerman, Thomas Closson, and Dean

York’s Schulich School of Business honoured the achievements of four outstanding graduates at a prestigious ceremony last week.

The 2012 Schulich Alumni Recognition Awards recognized the career and community service accomplishments of P. Thomas Jenkins (MBA ’87), executive chair and chief strategy officer for OpenText™ Corporation; Craig Kielburger (EMBA ’09), a member of the Order of Canada andco-founder of Free The Children; Thomas Closson (MBA ’79), president & CEO of Tom Closson Consulting; and Pam Laycock (MBA ’89), senior vice-president of corporate strategy and development at Torstar Corporation.

From left, Brenda Zimmerman, Thomas Closson and Dezsö J. Horváth From left, Brenda Zimmerman, Thomas Closson and Dezsö J. Horváth

“Over the years, our school has achieved a number of noteworthy accomplishments. We’ve won prestigious international honours and reached some significant milestones,” said Schulich Dean Dezsö J. Horváth in his welcome remarks.

“But none of these has ever given me as much pride and satisfaction as the success attained by our alumni. I’ve said on many occasions – our alumni are the greatest ambassadors of the Schulich school. Tonight, we honour four of those truly exceptional ambassadors – individuals who inspire pride in our school.”

Jenkins was presented with the Outstanding Executive Leadership Award for demonstrating extraordinary achievement, leadership and innovation in a global operation. He earned his MBA in entrepreneurship and technology management from the Schulich School of Business and has been with OpenText, an enterprise software company and leader in enterprise content management, since 1994.

From left, Paul Tsaparis, P. Thomas Jenkins and Dezsö J. HorváthFrom left, Paul Tsaparis, P. Thomas Jenkins and Dezsö J. Horváth

“Tom is a visionary and innovator in the industry,” said Paul Tsaparis (MBA ’84), vice-president technology support, Americas technology services, Hewlett-Packard Company. “He has pioneered new technology and is a passionate promoter of innovation and entrepreneurship. He is one of Canada’s most respected and trusted business leaders.”

As the executive chair and chief strategy officer of a US$1-billion multinational enterprise software firm and the largest software company in Canada, Jenkins discussed the impact his degree from Schulich has had on his career.

“The training I received here really did matter,” said Jenkins. “I remembered what I learned from Professor Gillies’ lectures on culture the first time I travelled to Japan for business. His lectures really helped prepare me for the diversity of the business world. I have also been grateful for the skills I developed in areas such as accounting, marketing and finance.”

From left, Craig Kielburger and Dezsö J. HorváthFrom left, Craig Kielburger and Dezsö J. Horváth

The award for Outstanding Progress and Achievement was presented to Kielburger, the youngest-ever graduate of the Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA program. Kielburger co-founded Free The Children with his brother Marc when he was only 12 years old. Today, the organization is the world’s largest network of children helping children through education, operating in 45 countries and building more than 650 schools and school rooms in developing regions, which provide education to more than 55,000 children every day.

“I was not only the youngest student in my class at Schulich, but also the only student from a nonprofit organization,” said Kielburger. “I entered the EMBA program for very specific reasons; I wanted to learn how to apply business practices to the nonprofit industry.”

The award for Outstanding Public Contribution was presented to Closson, one of the great leaders in Canadian health care today.

“It takes great courage to play a true leadership role in Canadian health care today,” said Brenda Zimmerman (MBA ’83 and PhD ’91), director of the Health Industry Management Program and a professor of strategy/policy at Schulich. “We need inspiring and practical wisdom to reap the benefits of the system we created, to transform it and to correct its ailments. And Tom Closson is widely respected for his thoughtful and thought-provoking insights about the health-care system. He’s earned his respect through all three sectors of the business – for-profit, nonprofit and public.”

From left, Bill Graham, Pam Laycock and Dezsö J. HorváthFrom left, Bill Graham, Pam Laycock and Dezsö J. Horváth

Closson was most recently president and CEO of the Ontario Hospital Association, but stepped down in January 2012. He was previously president and CEO of University Health Network (UHN). Before joining UHN, Closson worked in Victoria, BC as president and CEO of the Capital Health Region. Prior to that, he was president and CEO at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

“To compete globally, Canada has to be productive in things that sell,” said Closson. “But to have a good standard of living, we must offer good health care. And to do that, we need better leadership in health care in the future. I am very honoured and proud to receive this award. Since I graduated, the Schulich MBA has surpassed all other programs in Canada and I am so proud to say that I went here. I am so pleased there is a health-care focused MBA here now because there is much need for it.”

Laycock, recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to the Schulich School of Business Award, is the chair of the Toronto Alumni Chapter – a group that produces almost a dozen events each year, including CONNECT, Schulich’s annual alumni forum. She also mentors Schulich students and recent grads – even hiring a few into her corporation – and guest lectures at special events at the school.

Paul Alofs, the master of ceremonies for the eveningPaul Alofs, the master of ceremonies for the evening

“It’s not just what Pam does; it’s also the way she does it,” said Bill Graham (MBA ’86), president, Schulich Global Alumni Network, who has seen first-hand what Laycock has done for the school. “Because, in addition to what you’d expect her to bring to any process – focus, strategy, experience, perspective – she also brings energy, passion and probably one of the most positive outlooks I’ve ever seen, including the rare ability to motivate those around her to give their best.”

Thanking the school for the award, Laycock shared the lessons that led to her relationship with Schulich, as well as those that have resulted from that relationship.

“First, there are three foundational lessons,” said Laycock. “From my mom – a girl can do anything a boy can do. From my dad – whatever you do, do it with passion and take a few risks along the way. And from my grandfather – whatever you do, make sure that you passionately give back to the place and the communities that helped you along the way.”

From Horváth, Laycock says she has learned the importance of persistence, performance and perseverance, as well as the importance of reaching out to ask for help to make a vision come to life. And from the Schulich community and Toronto Alumni Chapter, she has learned that: “If you have a passionate group of people around you, amazing things can happen.”

The master of ceremonies for the evening was Paul Alofs (MBA ’83), president and CEO, The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation and the winner of the 1994 Outstanding Progress and Achievement Alumni Recognition Award.

Schulich Alumni Relations would like to thank the evening’s entertainment sponsor, TD Insurance Meloche Monnex and the York Alumni Perks Program.