Each year, York’s Schulich School of Business and the Schulich Global Alumni Network present Alumni Recognition Awards to accomplished members of the Schulich community. This year, four alumni were honoured at a prestigious ceremony at the school.
Frank Vettese, managing partner & chief executive, Deloitte; Patrick Iaboni, president, Berkley Developments; Janice R. Fukakusa, chief administrative officer & chief financial officer, Royal Bank of Canada; and Bill Graham, president, Schulich Global Alumni Network, Schulich School of Business, were feted.
“Tonight we celebrate the achievements of four outstanding recipients who have taken four very different career paths,” said Schulich Dean Dezsö J. Horváth in his welcome remarks. “Despite their differences, they share one thing in common – a desire to be among the very best in their chosen fields of endeavour.”
From left, Frank Vettese, Janice R. Fukakusa, Bill Graham and Patrick Iaboni
Vettese (BBA ’86, MBA ’91) was the recipient of the Outstanding Executive Leadership Award for his extraordinary achievement, leadership and innovation in a global operation. Throughout his 25-year career in public accounting and professional services, Vettese has developed extensive knowledge across a multitude of practice areas, demonstrated leadership beyond his professional career as an active board member for numerous charitable endeavours and contributed to the education of future leaders as a lecturer for universities and professional associations.
“Over the years, Frank has been a great colleague of mine, mentor, confidant and friend,” said John Ruffolo (Schulich BBA ’88), CEO, OMERS Ventures, OMERS, in his introduction of Vettese. The pair first met in 1988 while Ruffolo was completing his undergraduate degree at Schulich and Vettese was an instructor and coaching students for CFA examinations. He described Vettese as “an absolutely devoted family man” and an honourable businessman who not only stands by his word, but is also generous and committed to serving others.
From left, John Ruffolo, Frank Vettese and Dezsö J. Horváth
“I am absolutely delighted to be here this evening and extremely honoured to be the recipient of this award, it means a great deal to me,” said Vettese. “I am absolutely humbled to be part of, even to be mentioned, in the same vein as those individuals who have preceded me in receiving this honour. And I have to tell you, it’s an absolute bonus to be sharing the evening with three alumni who are not only accomplished individuals in what they do, but phenomenal people and they’re phenomenal role models.”
As a leader, Vettese has spent his career trying to set other people up for success. He said his focus as a leader of a global organization has been to help people achieve both their personal and professional aspirations and, perhaps more importantly, to develop the next generation of leaders.
Reflecting on his time at Schulich, Vettese said the school’s unique focus on global reach, innovation and diversity really speaks to the Schulich experience. He said Schulich gives its graduates “the confidence to operate on the edge, to push the envelope, to do things a little differently.”
In particular, he said it’s given him “the ability to think beyond borders, to be keenly aware of emerging trends, to anticipate things, looking for things around corners, really understanding the bigger picture.
The award for Outstanding Progress and Achievement was presented to Iaboni (BBA ’93, MBA ’94) by Professor James McKellar, director, Real Estate & Infrastructure Program, Schulich School of Business.
“This is a special occasion for Patrick and the program in Real Estate & Infrastructure,” said McKellar. “This is the first time that a graduate in the program has garnered recognition for an Alumni Recognition Award.” And deservedly so.
Iaboni founded the Berkley Group of Companies in 1996. Under his leadership, the company has completed the acquisition of over $300 million income producing assets across Southern Ontario and the South Florida markets. The property management group manages over 7,500 residential apartments throughout Ontario and Windsor Capital, the mezzanine financing division of the company, has over $400 million assets throughout North America.
“I am truly honoured to be receiving this award, especially in light of all of the achievements of my colleagues who are also receiving awards tonight. And the Outstanding Progress Award that I am receiving is an interesting one – it’s one that Mr. Alofs [Paul Alofs (Schulich MBA ’83), the evening’s Master of Ceremony] received in the year that I graduated, so it’s certainly inspirational for me,” said Iaboni.
“It also says, in many ways, that you’re not done yet. And that’s important for me because I always think it’s important to have goals for yourself; they don’t always have to be big goals but you always have something to strive for.”
From left, Paul Alofs, Janice R. Fukakusa and Dezsö J. Horváth
Fukakusa (MBA ’79) was presented with the Outstanding Public Contribution Award for her significant contributions to public life. Not only is Fukakusa one of the top financial executives in the country, but she also finds time to serve on a number of professional and charitable organizations, including Wellspring Cancer Support, Princess Margaret Hospital, Ryerson University and the Schulich School of Business.
“There are so many distinguished business people in this room tonight, there are so many people who not only have a day job but also serve important causes – when you think about the role that Janice has at RBC and you think about the size and the pressures that she faces every day, the fact that she takes the time to make such significant contributions to her community, is something that I think all of us can look to for inspiration and as an example that we can never be too busy to support and build our community,” said Paul Alofs (Schulich MBA ’83), president and CEO, The Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation, in his introduction of Fukakusa.
Fukakusa said it was during her time at Schulich that she started to give back to the community. And although it’s been challenging to balance all of her responsibilities, she said taking the time to give back to the community has been extremely rewarding.
“I always believed that you gain so much from the community, that everyone lifts a community and should give back,” she said. “So for me it was natural. It was a part of my work, my home and my family life to make sure that I always gave back.”
The recipient of the Outstanding Contribution to the School Award was Graham (MBA ’86), who contributes countless hours to the school as president of the Schulich Global Alumni Network, Executive-in-Residence for the International MBA Program, a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council and on the Board of the York University Alumni Association.
“Throughout Bill’s very successful career, he has had an unwavering commitment to this School,” said Rob Hines, executive director, Career Development Centre, Schulich School of Business, in his introduction of Graham. “You have worked incredibly hard to make students’ lives better and you’ve demonstrated remarkable commitment to the School across all of its constituents – alumni, students, faculty and staff.”
Graham said it is quite a different experience to be receiving an alumni award, rather than giving them out.
“I’m typically on the other side of these things, so it’s been a challenge for me to think about what to say this evening. But this evening is about alumni. So I thought about my association with the School and two points came to mind as an alumnus. And they are, first of all, get involved. And, second of all, have fun doing it,” he said.
“When we as alumni are asked to participate, to get involved, to give back, in what Seymour Schulich calls our ‘time, treasure and talent’, we should take that opportunity because, in part, you’re going to get a lot more out of it than you expect, in ways that you won’t expect. I certainly have,” Graham added.
“Today, this School is, without a question, the top-ranked School in this country and probably one of the top 15 or 20 schools in the world…We have outstanding faculty – over 200 members [and] over 100 of them are tenured – [and] throughout the world they are recognized for their research and teaching. We have these amazing students – more than 3,000 of them at any given time – they’re out there like piranhas finding and participating in case competitions around the world and winning. We’ve got support staff that keep getting stronger – I’ve personally witnessed the changes over the years…And the part of the team that’s the most important, they are why we are here tonight, our alumni – almost 24,000 and growing by almost a 1,000 every year – and like those outstanding alumni, like those who are here tonight receiving Awards and those who’ve been on this stage before them, they’re leaders not only in their companies and their fields but also in their communities and countries and not just here in Canada, but all over the world.”
Event sponsors included the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ontario, the Royal Bank of Canada and York Alumni; as well as table patrons, CAA South Central Ontario, Deloitte, Ryerson University and Schulich Graduate Business Council.
To view more photos from the evening, visit the Schulich Facebook page.