Sept. 27, 2021Print | PDF
As one of Canada’s leading business schools, we find our alumni leading organizations in major cities across every continent. Sometimes, we find them close to home too – but with that same global impact.
Just a short drive up Highway 401 in Toronto, Wilfrid Laurier University’s Lazaridis School of Business and Economics Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) alumnus, Bill Webb, has been a leader in investment and wealth management for more than 35 years. He’s a founding partner of Waypoint Investment Partners focused on helping clients invest in public and private markets. Webb (BBA ’86) also has a side gig as co-founder and president of the Toronto Arrows RFC, Canada’s only professional Rugby Union Team that competes in Major League Rugby.
Webb is more than just your average active alumnus Over the years, he’s hired more than 135 Lazaridis School students for co-op placements. His passion for the co-op program is rooted in his journey to Laurier. “The number one thing that got Laurier on my radar screen was the co-op program,” said Webb. At the time, Ontario had an optional fifth year of high school called the Ontario Academic Credit (OAC). While Webb was in his OAC year, his father shared how impactful his co-op experiences at the University of Waterloo were for his career. “He raved about how impactful having some practical experience plus earning some money had been,” said Webb. “The more research I did on that, the more intrigued I became.”
Webb chose business as his degree choice based on a love of finance and investment from an early age. “From the time I was a young teenager, I was a member of an investment club,” added Webb. As his university research progressed, a friend introduced him to a Laurier professor who helped seal the deal. “The late Dr. Tupper [Cawsey] invited me to come up and visit. I was just a high school student, but he invited me to come up and visit his office,” Webb said. Travelling from his hometown of Brantford, Webb visited prof. Cawsey to learn more about Laurier and university life. “He actually offered me the opportunity to be a research associate and work with him in my first year,” Webb said. The combination of the co-op program, the opportunity to work with prof. Cawsey on our Waterloo campus sealed the deal for Webb.
After graduating, Webb received a full-time offer with a consulting company. It was a role Webb said he wanted, but another opportunity ended up taking him to London, England instead. Webb graduated in August, but the position wasn’t set to start until the following year. At the time, he had the option to live and work in the United Kingdom and decided to explore England and play a little bit of rugby. “I had been over on a rugby tour during my high school years,” said Webb. “I thought I would check out the job market. I had no leads at all. I had my degree from Laurier and experience investing, but I was on my own.”
Webb’s timing in England coincided with significant deregulation in the financial services industry across the UK. “It was a bull market and I was able to get on a trading course with regard to financial futures.” He interviewed at several firms and received a job offer from Credit Suisse, one of the leading bond traders at the time. Webb chose to work abroad – a challenge that we love to see Lazaridis School alumni take on.
Working for Credit Suisse was a fascinating experience for Webb. The bull market at the time ended with a crash in 1987 – a series of events that Webb credits with teaching him more than he ever expected. “I like to say as an investor, you often learn more and how you manage risk and protect capital during downturns,” added Webb.
The opportunity to work abroad is something Webb said he’s continually grateful for. “I’d always been interested in international business and I thought, you know, now is the time to do it. While I was young and unattached.” Webb’s travels didn’t end when he left Credit Suisse. He took the opportunity to backpack across the world to explore different cultures. It’s something he hopes Laurier graduates can do again once the pandemic is over. “I’ve been influenced by meeting people while I was living in England. I met a lot of Australian and New Zealand friends who traveled for long periods of time as a rite of passage. I thought if I don’t do this now, I may never do it.”
Webb’s travels took him to China, Nepal, and across Asia. During his time trekking in the Himalayas, Webb worked as a trekking guide taking people around the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal. “It was a chance to spend a year in a really beautiful part of the world doing something that I really loved and that I wouldn’t be able to do another time in my life,” said Webb. “I think it’s really about following your spirit and recognizing that there are times in your life when you have a lot more flexibility and you know don’t push everything off to a rainy day.”
Along with the advice to work and travel internationally, Webb also wants Laurier students to take advantage of their co-op terms to help open up opportunities after graduation. It’s no secret why Webb has hired so many co-op students from the Lazaridis School over the last 20 years. “Having been a co-op student myself, I knew what co-ops are capable of,” said Webb. “They’re smart, inexpensive, hardworking, and keen to learn.” Webb credits the quality of students as another reason he keeps coming back for more. “They produce great work. Many of them have gone on to be very successful folks in the financial services industry and are real luminaries on Bay Street and abroad.”
Today, Webb’s Laurier experience has come full circle with one of his children soon starting university. When it comes to choosing schools, Webb isn’t pushing Laurier over others, but he’d be happy if Laurier were the choice – and he would say the same to any parent. “You can feel very confident that it’s an outstanding school for both business and economics,” said Webb. “Having been there myself many moons ago, but also seeing the quality of the students in real time, hiring them as co-op students – it is a great school!”
Webb said the combination of theoretical and hands-on opportunities plus the location in Waterloo makes it a great choice. “Laurier provides an environment where the student can get out of it what they put into it. Choosing from schools is really about having the right attitude going in and making the most of it – and making sure that you make some really good friends and relationships along the way.”