The Lazaridis School of Business & Economics Alumni Awards gala celebrates the outstanding achievements of our undergraduate and graduate alumni.
Each year, we recognize extraordinary alumni for their community service, career achievements and contributions to the Laurier community. With more than 30,000 alumni, and growing, the Lazaridis School continues to prepare exceptional leaders for today and tomorrow.
For more information or to learn about sponsorship opportunities at the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics Alumni Awards, please contact Graham McCormick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nominations close on May 31.
Awarded to two Lazaridis School alumni as the highest honour given by the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics. This award recognizes leadership, initiative and contributions to the business world, the community and their alma mater. This award is selected by the alumni selection committee.
Sponsored by Tom and Lynn Oldfield
Awarded to a Lazaridis MBA alumnus/a who has achieved career success and demonstrated a pattern of exceptional leadership and service.
The Young Alumnus/a of the Year Award honours those individuals (under the age of 35) who have made exceptional accomplishments in their professional career and/or community throughout their first 10 years of alumni status. This award is selected by the alumni selection committee.
Recognizes a Lazaridis School alumni who embodies an entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen, and who has demonstrated innovative business achievement.
Recognizes a Lazaridis School alumni who has demonstrated exceptional generosity and outstanding charitable responsibility, and whose goodwill encourages others to take philanthropic leadership roles in the community.
This award recognizes an alumnus/a of the school who has furthered the interests of the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics through significant support, commitment and service to the school. All alumni of the Lazaridis School are eligible for this award. The award winner is selected by the Dean, Lazaridis School of Business and Economics.
Presented by Lynn and Tom Oldfield
Jason McDonell, BBA '96
President, PepsiCo Foods Canada
Jason is receiving the J. Alex Murray Award for his demonstrated success and leadership over his 20 year career with PepsiCo. Now the President of PepsiCo Foods Canada, Jason has a wealth of knowledge in general management, sales and marketing from his roles in PepsiCo’s businesses in both Canada and the United States.
Growing up in Chatham, Ontario, Jason has always had a passion for the retail industry – working in two local grocery stores as well as in the family furniture business where he first experienced working on the sales floor, warehouse operations, and marketing.
Upon graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University with an Honours Bachelor of Business Administration, Jason began his career in Brand Management at Procter & Gamble before joining PepsiCo in Brand Marketing.
At the beginning of time with PepsiCo, Jason worked on some of the company’s biggest brands including Lay’s, Doritos and Cheetos. His many accomplishments with PepsiCo include developing the Munchies Snack Mix innovation, converting Lay’s to be made with sunflower oil, and developing the “Crash the Super Bowl” crowdsourcing campaign which lasted 10 years and was built into a global initiative.
Jason moved to the U.S. to continue his work with Frito-Lay as the Director of Marketing. His many roles include VP/GM for Customer Strategy and VP/GM Sales in California before returning to Canada in 2011 as the Chief Marketing Officer for PepsiCo Foods Canada, where he continued to build his experience in other senior positions.
Jason now lives in Kleinburg, Ontario with his wife Lynda and sons Spencer and Brennan. He continues to contribute to his alma mater through public speaking opportunities with students, being an active member of the Dean’s Advisory Council, and being appointed the CEO in Residence for the Lazaridis School in 2017/18. In addition to Jason’s personal involvement, PepsiCo Foods is a strong supporter of Laurier Co-Op and new graduates.
Ray Tanguay, DIPL '83, LLD HC ’12
Former Chair and President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc.
Ray, now retired from his executive positions as chairman, Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc. (TMMC), chairman of Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI), and president of Canadian Autoparts Toyota Inc. (CAPTIN), is receiving the J. Alex Murray Award in recognition of his successful career of contribution to the Canadian manufacturing and transportation sectors and his ongoing contributions to his community and to Laurier.
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Northern Ontario, Tanguay earned his degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from St. Clair College in 1972 and graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University in business management in 1983. In 2012, Tanguay received an honorary Doctorate of Law (JD) from Wilfrid Laurier University and an honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the University of Waterloo. He was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2017.
Ray spent the first 19 years of his career working in the electronics industry as the manager of Electrohome Ltd. for 10 years before joining Philips Electronics Limited in 1983, as a Director of Electronics Displays and Consumer Service where he was later promoted to Vice President of Eastern Region.
In 1991, Ray joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada Inc., and was quickly recognized as a leading force in instilling innovation within the company. During his more than 20 years at Toyota, TMMC was recognized with an outstanding 12 J.D. Power and Associates plant quality awards, including the global best Platinum Award in 2011 and 2014.
Under his exceptional stewardship, TMMC became the first Toyota manufacturing plant outside of Japan to produce Lexus vehicles. An admirer of the Lexus slogan, the "Passionate Pursuit of Perfection," Ray firmly believes in people aiming to do, and be, the best they can in their own respective fields. Always looking to the future, he contributed to the further globalization of Toyota, and the achievement of self-reliance in North America, by creating a clear vision within a strategic framework that incorporates human resource development and reliable business partnerships.
In 2015, Ray was named as the first auto advisor to both the Government of Ontario and the Government of Canada, a role he filled until June 2018. In this position, Ray provided experience and advice regarding automotive investment and innovation in Canada in order to strengthen the Canadian automotive industry.
Ray currently lives in Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. He is a founding member of the Canadian Automotive Partnership Council, founding member of OG100, Executive Advisor to FIRST, and an active member of the Dean’s Advisory Councils for both the University of Waterloo and the Lazaridis School of Business & Economics where he continues to contribute to his alma mater.
Marina Garabetian, MBA '05
Chief Operating Officer, Raffi Jewellers Inc.
Founder, MODALINA Media Group Inc.
Marina graduated with her MBA from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2005 and has remained actively connected to the Lazaridis School ever since. With a strong belief in the influential role education plays in developing others, Marina is an eternal student at heart.
Marina is being recognized as the Lazaridis School Alumna of the Year for her continued leadership in the areas of management and entrepreneurship. After several years in the corporate world, and with a Science degree, Business degree and Process Master designation in hand, Marina decided to combine her passion for the arts and sciences and earned her Gemology degree with the Gemological Institute of America. This propelled her journey into gems and jewellery where she now operates, in partnership with her husband, Raffi Jewellers.
In July of this year, Raffi Jewellers opened their Flagship Boutique in Cambridge– the experiential location is the first of its kind in North America. Marina has also opened a PANDORA jewellery store (one of the top 10 across Canada), partnered with her husband to create Ideal Cut Properties – a real estate development company, and started MODALINA Media Group. There, she is the Founder and Publisher of MODALINA Magazine, an award-winning, custom-content, luxury lifestyle magazine that celebrates the defining moments in people’s lives. With a current distribution of 80,000 copies a year, MODALINA can also be found in Air Canada Business Lounges in 22 cities around the world.
Marina contributes her time to different organizations, foundations and schools across the region. Her greatest joy is being a mother to her four children. They keep her in check and remind her daily of how grateful she is to be blessed with another day to wake up with a smile on her face and attempt to make miracles happen!
Presented by POI Business Interiors
Sinead Bovell, BBA '11
CEO and Founder, Weekly Advice for Young Entrepreneurs
Sinead is the founder and CEO of WAYE (Weekly Advice for the Young Entrepreneur), an organization that bridges the gap between millennials and the digital future. Through her monthly event series called WAYE Talks, where cool meets nerdy over tech, Sinead educates millennials on the future of technology.
Sinead is being recognized as our Young Alumna of the Year for her successes in entrepreneurship, citizenship, and her work promoting Lazaridis School and the next generation of digital entrepreneurs.
Prior to WAYE, Sinead received her degree in business from Wilfrid Laurier University, and her Masters in Business from the University of Toronto. She worked in logistics and supply chain for global supply chain leader Brambles, before moving on to management consulting for A.T. Kearney.
Dubbed “the Model Who Talks Tech“, Sinead offers weekly business articles, strategy consulting, and business masterclasses to empower young entrepreneurs with the tools and resources needed to thrive in the digital future.
She was appointed Director of Youth Led Innovation for Blockchain for Impact, where she will be working with the United Nations on the mission to apply technology to sustainable development and humanitarian challenges. Recently selected to present at the United States Chambers of Commerce Summit, Sinead’s mission is to build a progressive, informed and thriving society; one in which technology is built, as she says, “on the right side of history.”
David Ceolin, BBA '89
General Partner, Innovation Grade Ventures
David is being recognized with the Steve Farlow Entrepreneurship and Innovation Award for his contributions to entrepreneurship in Canada and his commitment to supporting the next generation of leaders.
David graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University. He went on to begin his career in commercial and corporate banking at some of Canada’s largest financial institutions.
David left the financial world in 1996 to found Digital Cement, a digital company at the intersection of marketing technology, customer experience design and data analytics. Digital Cement’s innovative digital marketing approach delivered topline revenue for a global roster of clients including Kraft Foods, FedEx, and Dell. He remained active as the founder and CEO until Pitney Bowes acquired Digital Cement in 2007.
David is the author of the international best selling book “The Idea Guide” about entrepreneurial business planning, and now runs his own investment firm Innovation Grade Ventures, focusing on new and disruptive technology ventures in both private and social ventures. He continues to give back to the Laurier community and is a member of the Investment Committee for the Laurier StartUp Fund.
David has also been recognized with a Top 40 under 40 award, given annually to individuals from multiple disciplines that demonstrate vision, leadership, innovation, achievement, and community impact. He was also named one of the Top 100 alumni in the history of Wilfrid Laurier University. David serves on private company boards in Canada and the US, and is an accredited board director through the Institute of Corporate Directors designation (ICD.D).
Presented by KPMG
Elise Gasbarrino, BBA '07
Brand Manager, Burberry
Founder, Pink Pearl Foundation
Elise graduated with her Bachelor of Business Administration from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2007, and went on to earn her Masters in Brand Management at Istituto Marangoni. She has established herself in the world of fashion, working for iconic brands such as Oscar de la Renta and now British luxury brand Burberry. There, she is the Brand Manager overseeing the Northeast, Midwest and Canada wholesale businesses.
While pursuing her career in fashion in her early twenties, Elise was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. As she underwent rigorous cancer treatments, she realized a gap in cancer support for young women. Driven to close this gap, Elise founded the Pink Pearl Foundation, a registered Canadian charitable organization focused on bringing together young women affected by cancer through a network of peer support and innovative programs.
It is for this work that we are recognizing Elise with the Community Leadership Award. To date, her Foundation has touched the lives of more than 1,000 young women and has raised nearly half a million dollars to provide fully-funded programming for its program participants battling cancer.
Elise has been recognized by Cancer Care Ontario with their Human Touch Award for her work in supporting young women with cancer and is a recipient of the Burberry Icon Award for her demonstrative work in social responsibility.
Elise is passionate about supporting initiatives that support women, and about self-growth through continual learning and new experiences. Her entrepreneurial spirit has led her to invest in female-founded start-up organizations, including KENT Woman, a natural organic silk under-apparel brand; and Style.ca, an online lifestyle space for modern Canadians.
Elise resides in New York City and returns home often to the Niagara Region to spend quality time with her family and close friends.
Executive Director at Nutrition for Learning, Waterloo Region
Mary is being recognized with the Dean’s Award for Community Service for her contributions to both the Lazaridis School and the greater Waterloo Region.
Mary was instrumental in putting Waterloo on the hospitality map. As president of the Waterloo Inn and Conference Centre, she was behind one of the most successful independent hotels in Ontario
Mary immigrated to Canada from Ireland as a young child with her three siblings and parents. Her gift for hospitality was noticed at a young age when she attended the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s College and became a residence don. Her Irish charm and contagious laugh formed the foundation for her successful career. She began working for several large Toronto hotels before joining the Waterloo Inn in 1983.
In 2016, Mary joined Nutrition for Learning Waterloo Region as the Executive Director. The organization feeds more than 20,000 children in 133 schools across Waterloo Region each year – ensuring that all students are well fed and able to focus on other aspects of their day.
Her love of people extends beyond her career into the community where she has devoted countless volunteer hours to agencies. In 1992 she received the prestigious Governor General’s Medal for Community Service and in 1998 she was named Kitchener-Waterloo Citizen of the Year. Wilfrid Laurier University, the K-W YMCA Foundation, the K-W Art Gallery and the St. Mary’s General Hospital Board are just some of the institutions to which she has devoted her time.
Throughout the business of her career and volunteer commitments, Mary relies on a time-honoured form of stress relief: she believes firmly in the healing, stress-relieving power of laughter.
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