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Life After Laurier Science: success in high-tech finance
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WATERLOO — Stephanie Ratza doesn’t have to think too far back to recall one of her best Laurier memories. Just last year, 20 years after graduating with a degree in math, Ratza and her former university roommates celebrated their 40th birthdays by going on a cruise together.
“Laurier helps build those bonds,” she said during a recent talk that was part of the Life After Laurier Science speaker series.
The Laurier alumna has enjoyed a successful business career and is one of the most accomplished female executives in Waterloo Region’s renowned high-tech sector. She currently serves as chief financial officer (CFO) of Descartes Systems Group, a global logistics company based in Waterloo.
For Ratza, one of the best parts of her Laurier experience was the student environment, which encouraged the building of strong relationships. Other benefits include the university’s strong reputation, excellent academics, innovative programs and exceptional learning experience.
And learning at Laurier occurs inside and outside of the classroom, she said. “Although you are fortunate that the calibre of faculty here is also outstanding."
The ability to interact with faculty outside of classroom hours, and the many opportunities to build leadership skills, sets Laurier apart, she said.
After graduating from Laurier in 1989, Ratza earned her Chartered Accountant designation and became “employee number 35” at Open Text Corp., creators of the first search-engine technology for the Internet. As controller, Ratza helped the company grow by completing 11 acquisitions. Today, Open Text produces content-management software and employs over 4,000 people worldwide.
Ratza went on to work at MKS Inc. as vice-president of finance, and the Intellectual Property and Innovation Company (IPICO) as chief financial officer, before taking on her current role as CFO at Descartes Systems, a logistics network provider that helps companies ship products and track their delivery efficiently.
Ratza was proud to note that five of her 30 team members at Descartes are Laurier alumni. (More than 1,000 Laurier alumni work in the thriving high-tech industry in Waterloo Region.)
“My motto has been to work global, stay local,” she said. “Although my work has taken me places, I have been lucky to stay based in Waterloo.”
Which is a good thing for Ratza, who sends her two children to the Laurier Golden Hawks sport camp every summer.
Ratza, the third guest speaker in the Life After Laurier Science speaker series, said the talk was another milestone in her “life at Laurier.” Ratza is also a member of the Dean’s External Science Advisory Council at Laurier.
Mallory O'Brien, Public Affairs