York’s Schulich School of Business brought together more than 300 returning alumni, as well as faculty, staff and friends from around the world, for its CONNECT Toronto ’18 event held on April 27 and 28.
As part of CONNECT Toronto ’18, Schulich hosted a number of milestone reunion celebrations and gatherings involving the classes of 2013, 2008, 2003, 1998, 1993, 1988, 1983, 1978, 1973, 1968.
The theme of the alumni forum was “Next:CONNECT to the Future” and focused on some of the emerging challenges and opportunities re-shaping the world of business and society. Alumni attended sessions that ranged from artificial intelligence (AI) and cryptocurrencies to board governance, the future of marketing, and art investing.
For the first time, the event took place over two days and kicked off with a forum on April 27, and began with a Pre-CONNECT Primer called “SEEC-ing the Future” hosted by the Schulich Executive Education Centre which delivers executive education courses and programs to more than 10,000 managers around the world each year.
The Primer offered three “glimpses into the future” that included sessions on: Leading in a Turbulent World, which engaged participants in a case study to explore new mindsets and thinking techniques; The Face of the Future: The Alibaba Story, which looked at the rise of one of China’s most successful businesses and the leading-edge practices it employs; and Blockchain, which helped to give participants a better understanding of the technology behind cryptocurrencies.
The forum continued on April 28 with opening remarks from Schulich Dean Dezsö J. Horváth, who noted the increased difficulty of managing in an “age of disruption”.
“For this year’s CONNECT, we chose as our theme the concept of NEXT,” Horváth. “What’s next for the world of business? What’s next for you as managers and leaders in a time of turbulence and change?”
Janice Fukakusa (MBA ’79, Hon LLD ‘16), corporate director, retired CAO & CFO of RBC, and a member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, delivered an engaging opening Fireside Chat. The chat was moderated by Horváth, who was one of her strategy professors at Schulich when she was an MBA student.
In a wide-ranging, thoughtful and entertaining discussion, Fukakusa shared some of the highlights and challenges of her long and successful career. She also offered some hard-earned advice to aspiring leaders and shared her views on the future of the financial services sector, the emergence of new entrants to the traditional banking industry such as Google and Apple, as well as what she thought might be some “infrastructure game-changers” of the future.
Media personality and brand strategist Tony Chapman delivered the keynote closing address titled, “Finding Relevancy in the Age of Irrelevancy”, where he provided alumni with advice and insights on how to deal with workplace changes over the next decade that will see the elimination of one-quarter of the jobs that exist today and the growing need for employees to acquire new skills.
The event featured networking hubs; a Coaches Corner, where alumni could book a private 10-minute career coaching session with a number of leading executive coaches; the Schulich Trading Post, where alumni could purchase Schulich memorabilia; and a cocktail reception and prize draw at the conclusion of the event.
Schulich alumni Raj Mehta (IMBA ’95), global head, Private Capital and Partnerships, Starlight Investments, and Lisa Marie Chen (MBA ’11), lead design strategist, IBM Business Analytics, served as conference co-chairs.
Air Canada was executive sponsor of the event, TD Insurance was the Networking sponsor, and Johnnie Walker, Moneris, L’Oreal and On the Block Realty were the Affiliate sponsors.