Lazaridis 2020 Annual Report:
Extraordinary People Driving Economic Prosperity

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Message from the Dean

The extraordinary changes we have witnessed over 2020 will no doubt be discussed in university classes and research papers for years to come. Businesses have adapted to embrace technology more quickly than ever before. Organizational culture has shifted rapidly to support a work-from-home environment that resulted in major businesses deciding to abandon physical workspaces altogether. Startups pivoted and scaled to aid in the efforts most needed by our nation. Faculty experimented and tested, moving courses from our tried-and-true in-person lecture format to online solutions like Zoom. While cats and kids made special, sometimes unexpected, appearances on screen and internet issues surely got in the way, courses were delivered as best as possible in true Laurier style – with compassion and caring.

I’ve been incredibly impressed with the drive and creativity of our faculty members and the dedication, care and compassion of our staff who work diligently to uphold our vision and mission. Our students continue to present themselves and the Lazaridis School on international stages, shining a bright light on our inspiring talent around the world. Alumni of our programs continued to dedicate countless hours volunteering to speak, judge virtual competitions, mentor, and advise our students.

It is thanks to our people – our faculty, staff, students and alumni – that our economy is on the road to recovery driven by their extraordinary efforts. Through research productivity, by developing new programs that support areas of growth, with investments in our talented students and supporting our entrepreneurs, the people in the Lazaridis School continue to focus on our core mission to develop leaders with skills in management and economics for a rapidly changing and complex global environment.

I am pleased to highlight a selection of our extraordinary people in this Annual Report.

Micheál J. Kelly, PhD
Dean, Lazaridis School of Business & Economics
Wilfrid Laurier University

Students Shine on the Global Stage

Our students have traditionally performed exceptionally well in international case competitions over the years with participants recognizing the harder the competition, the sweeter the victory. In 2020, the victories were particularly satisfying for the teams who prevailed against some very tough competition, including the National University of Singapore, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Berkeley and Rotman. Here’s a quick look at some of our wins:

Extraordinary Love for Supporting Students

Many students over the years credit “Coach Sofy” as a source of inspiration. “The amount of passion and dedication she exhibits to the team and her students certainly inspired me to push myself out of my comfort zone and compete on the team,” said JDC Central co-captain of 2021 Kyle Collins (BBA ’20).

Coach Sofy Carayannopoulos, associate professor of policy in the Lazaridis School, coaches the Laurier Case Team who brought home majority of the podium finishes last year.

Silver in Worldwide Business Sustainability Competition

Representing Team Canada after winning the national Enactus Canada National Exposition in May, Laurier’s Enactus Waterloo team competed against 32 other countries to win silver after Egypt’s team won. Our team also won the 1 Race 4 Oceans challenge, which recognized students who are taking action to address issues facing the world’s oceans, including pollution, overfishing and climate change.

Lazaridis students (now graduates) Daniel Moll, Marissa Vettoretti, Abbey Bibbings and Madelaine Wilson represented the university and presented two Enactus companies EarthSuds and Last20.

Inspiring Conversations with Thought Leaders

Leading into and through the pandemic, we invited a number of guest speakers to offer their perspective to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends. In advance of the March 2020 shutdown, Craig Wright, graduate of our Economics program and chief economist of RBC offered his perspective of what was to come – titled "Uncertain and Underwhelming," an apt foreshadowing of the year. When events pivoted to a remote environment, our subject matter kept pace with topics such as “Managing Money Through a Pandemic” and “What Works Now Won’t Work Next.”

In addition to these ‘economic recovery’ topics that many of our webinars and events discussed, the brutal and tragic death of George Floyd left us mourning a deep loss and pushed us to question whether or not our workplace was doing enough to uphold and support an inclusive society for all people. Two of our graduates offered their perspective on how they have encountered workplaces and challenges they’ve encountered in their careers in “Elevating Laurier Leaders: Black Women in Leadership.”

Here are a few events we’d like to highlight:

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Managing Money Through a Pandemic

In a webinar hosted by the Master of Finance program, panelists shared insights on the economy and discussed risk management, investor behavior, debt and equity investments and portfolio management.

What Works Now Won’t Work Next

Experts discussed innovation, strategy, leadership, and the future of work in the context of the pandemic. Jeremy Auger, co-founder and chief strategy officer at online learning and teaching company D2L spoke about the changes to education and to the workforce. Meanwhile, Steve McCaughey (BBA ’84), managing partner of technology and transformation at Deloitte Canada, spoke about the rapid pace of innovation and how workplaces are seeing more burnout associated with increased productivity during the pandemic. Professors Simon Taggar and Karin Schnarr offered expertise on leadership and strategy, respectively.

Economic Outlook 2020: Uncertain and Underwhelming

RBC Chief Economist and Senior Vice-President, Craig Wright (BA Econ ’85) addressed the audience at the Lazaridis School’s annual Economic Outlook event and shared that 2020 would be uncertain and underwhelming. Coronavirus, disruption of supply chains and trade issues were discussed as part of the regional forecast.

Black Women in Leadership

In order to direct the course of the future, it is important also to reflect on where we’ve come. In a webinar, “Black Women in Leadership,” hosted by Laurier alumni as part of its Elevating Laurier Leaders speaker series, Amaryllis Jones (BBA ’14, MBA ’20), trade marketing manager at P&G and Sinead Bovell (BBA ’11), founder at WAYE and member of the Dean’s Advisory Board in New York, talked about their career paths as Black women and their experiences based on the intersections of gender and race.

Inspiring Teachers

The Lazaridis School has long been known for its outstanding quality of teaching. Professors quickly moved their courses to be taught behind a computer screen. With crowded internet connections, new technology to learn and deploy, camera angles and lighting to decipher and creative thinking on how to test learning outcomes and convert in-class live case competitions and group work assignments, our instructors quickly came together to share with one another how to make the remote learning environment better.

Instructors in our departments of Business and Economics met regularly and formed support communities to learn from one another. We learned a lot in 2020 and will bring these lessons forward as we look to transform some of our programs to make them more accessible for more people.

While our lessons were through a computer screen, our instructors continued to bring care and compassion to our students. Here are a few stories we’d like to share with you.

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Provincial Recognition

In October, Ken Jackson was recognized by the Province of Ontario for his efforts to support students. Ken is an associate professor and undergraduate program director in the Department of Economics. When the pandemic hit in March and Laurier moved classes online, Ken knew students would need help adjusting. He invited students to meet with him on Zoom every night to hear their feedback about courses and scheduling and to provide support. Once students had adjusted to their new routines, he reduced the frequency of the meetings to once a week.


Recognizing Outstanding Teaching

Professor Meredith Woodwark was one of six instructors recognized by Laurier for her early career and sustained excellence, mentoring and teaching innovation. “I feel really blessed to get to teach what I love at a wonderful school like Laurier with such amazing students and colleagues. Great teaching comes from having had great teachers, so I strive to honour the fantastic role models I have had by paying it forward to the best of my ability,” she said. Meredith writes cases for the third-year Integrated Case Exercise.


Innovations in Teaching Remotely

Eva Huang, an assistant professor who joined the Lazaridis School in 2019, completely rethought how to teach her Human Resource Management class in a remote environment. She wanted to motivate her students toward high performance in a supportive and friendly learning environment and translated HR theory into practice by inviting her students to mirror the roles found in large organizations. Students became “class manager” or “group leader” and were responsible for guiding and motivating their group members and evaluating group performance.

New Programs Built to Meet Industry Demand

One of the ways in which the Lazaridis School aims to help our nation recover post-pandemic is by ensuring the talent pool is highly skilled, future-ready and primed to rebuild in key areas such as supply chain and analytics. We continue to plan for and build more programs and micro-credentials and we look forward to announcing them in future. Over the past year, we launched two new professional master’s degrees, which have already proven popular among industry professionals looking to advance their careers.

12-Month Master’s Degree for Future-Ready Supply Chain Managers

Supply chains have become increasingly complex and interconnected at the national and global level during the pandemic, with consumers demanding goods at a rapidly accelerating pace. It's in this increasingly challenging world of supply chain management that the Lazaridis School established a new graduate program dedicated to its study. The Master of Supply Chain Management (MSCM), designed for professionals looking to advance their careers in the industry, will welcome its first cohort of students this September.

Professional Master’s Degree for Canada’s Job Shortage in Analytics

In 2020, we launched a graduate-level professional Master of Science in Management Analytics (MMA). According to Canada’s Big Data Consortium, Canada will face a shortage of 150,000 skilled data and analytics professionals. This new degree in Management Analytics will prepare graduates to design and move data analytics projects from conception to execution.

Our Suite of Graduate Degrees

Business – Professional Degrees

Business – Research-Focused Degrees

  • Master of Science in Management (Waterloo)
    • Marketing
    • Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management
  • PhD in Management (Waterloo)
    • Accounting
    • Finance
    • Marketing
    • Organizational Behaviour and Human Resource Management
    • Supply Chain Operations and Technology Management


Reinforcing our Global Connections

While travel plans were usurped in 2020, our digital connections grew ever stronger. In 2020, we hosted two virtual meetings of the Dean’s Advisory Boards in Waterloo, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary, New York, California and London, UK. We welcomed new members to our boards and new initiatives to broaden our alumni networks in New York and London are underway in partnership with the Alumni Office.

Meet our Dean's Advisory board members.

Alumni Volunteers Mentor Next Generation

In the true Laurier spirit, we would not have had such a productive year without the volunteer efforts of our alumni. While we can’t list everyone who contributed to judging in-class competitions or those who spoke to and inspired our classes, we would like to highlight the efforts of three groups of volunteers in our Finance area.

There are three incredible and immersive student opportunities within Finance for undergraduate- and graduate-level students. For students looking to learn about real-world investment funds or venture capital funds, these experiences can be life changing. Without the efforts of alumni, community volunteers and faculty leaders, these opportunities would not exist.

Thank you for taking the time to care so deeply about our programs and our students to spend time with us.

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LSIF Advisory Board

The Laurier Student Investment Fund (LSIF) is a real-money $1.2-million fund of stocks recommended by undergraduate student analysts. LSIF focuses on areas of the market where it can gain an informational advantage and identify market inefficiencies where larger institutions cannot.

LSIF students are supported by Finance professors Brian Smith and William McNally along with a host of alumni mentors, including:

  • Tyler Burke (BBA '15), Analyst, AYAL Capital
  • Mike Cestas (BBA '13), Senior Investment Analyst, Turtle Creek Asset Management
  • Greg Cohen (BBA/BMath '13), Canadian Equities Analyst, CI Global Asset Management
  • Derek Cangiano (BA Econ '16), Equity Analyst, Cambridge Global Asset Management
  • Greg Dean (BBA/BMath '08), Principal and Portfolio Manager, CI Investments Inc., Cambridge Global Asset Management
  • Claire Fleming (BBA '18), Equity Research Associate, Fidelity Canada
  • Steve Groff (BBA '07), Principal and Portfolio Manager, CI Investments Inc., Cambridge Global Asset Management
  • Jaret Henhoeffer (BBA '95, MBA '02), President and CEO, Penguin Power Solar; Co-Founder and Partner, Stage Left Partners Ltd.
  • Justin Keller-Hobson (BBA '16), Private Equity Senior Associate, Onex
  • Hassaan Khan (BBA '17), Associate, Corporate Development and Strategy, G3 Canada Limited
  • Benjamin Khmelnitsky (BBA '14), Senior Associate, CPP Investments
  • Jim Laird (BBA '95), Chief Data Scientist, Espresso Capital Partners
  • Westley MacDonald-Nixon (BBA '15), Vice-President, Fixed Income, National Bank of Canada
  • Ryan Marr (BA Econ '06), President and CEO, Chesswood Group Limited Portfolio; Partner and Portfolio Manager, Waypoint Investment Parters
  • James Mense-Dietrich (BBA '19), Investment Analyst, Turtle Creek Asset Management
  • Gerry Pelletier, Co-Founder and Partner, Stage Left Partners; President, GERPEL Business Development Inc.
  • Evan Rodvang (BBA '16), Research Analyst, Sentry Investments
  • Brendan Rowaan, Principal, Intellectual Property Strategies, OMERS Capital Markets
  • Sachan Sapra (BBA '10), Partner, Think Investments LP
  • Jason Senensky (BBA/BMath '11), Investor, Chapter Twelve Capital
  • Kingston Stephen (BBA/BMath '19), Investment Banking Analyst, J.P. Morgan
  • Ian Turnbull (BBA '15), Equity Analyst, Mawer Investment Management

LGSIF Advisory Board

In 2016, a small group of Master of Finance students created this fund to gain hands-on experience in making investment decisions and managing a fund. They raised $17,852 seed investment capital, which was matched in part by the university.

  • Xiang (Benny) Le (MFin '11), Associate Portfolio Manager, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo)
  • Harrison Nie (MFin '16), Senior Manager, Trading Floor Risk Management, Scotiabank
  • Shane Obata (MFin '17), Executive Director, Investments and Portfolio Manager, Middlefield Capital Corp
  • Hamir Patel (MFin '10), Executive Director, Equity Research-Paper and Forest Products, CIBC Capital Markets
  • Anthony Tavella (MFin/MBA '18), Executive Director, Middlefield International, Middlefield Group
  • Dylan Hsu (MFin '14), Principal, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan

Startup Fund Team

Created in 2014 with a generous $1-million donation from Hennie and Mike Stork, and a $500,000 donation from the Marsland family, this fund launched to help students gain experiential learning opportunities to invest real money in startups seeking seed-stage funding. The fund's current value is now $2.8 million. The fund has invested in 30 early-stage tech companies as recommended by student analysts and generously supported by the following alumni volunteers:

  • Aaron Bast (BBA '06), Venture Capital Investor, MaRS Investment Accelerator Fund
  • David Ceolin (BBA '89), Founding Partner, Innovation Grade Ventures
  • Frank Erschen (BBA '81), Entrepreneur in Residence, Communitech and The DMZ
  • Danielle Graham (MBA '14), Venture Partner, Archangel Network of Funds; Venture Partner, Aligne Capital; Co-Founder and Leadership Committee Member, Diversity and Inclusion Small Council
  • Jacqui Murphy (BBA '95), Chief Marketing Officer, Auvik Networks Inc.
  • Mike Stork (BBA '77), Angel Investor; President, Stork Holdings

Inspiring Alumni Receive Awards

Each year, a select group of alumni are recognized for their achievements to the Laurier community through the Wilfrid Laurier University Alumni Awards. In 2020, four out of seven alumni were from the Lazaridis School. Congratulations to the following outstanding alumni.

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Alumnus of the Year: Jeremy Auger (EMTM '12)

Jeremy Auger, co-founder and chief strategy officer at D2L, was recognized for outstanding achievement as a graduate who has brought honour to the university. Jeremy’s local commitment to ‘tech for good’ has yielded positive opportunities, such as a ‘volunteer time off’ program at D2L, which allots two paid days per year for each D2L employee to volunteer.

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Community Impact Award: Tracey Weiler (MBA '07)

Tracy Weiler, director of Distribution Compensation Services at Sun Life and president of Rotary Waterloo, was presented this award as a graduate who fosters a better world through local, national or international initiatives as a volunteer, advocate or employee. Tracey’s impressive track record of volunteerism was inspired by her mom. She shared her earliest memory (from when she was eight years old) of her mom’s giving nature and how it impacted her.

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Entrepreneurial Spirit Award: David Ceolin (BBA '89)

David Ceolin was recognized for outstanding work as a business founder or entrepreneurial leader with a demonstrated ability to generate business growth. Dave’s entrepreneurial spirit started in the summer of 1985 when he arrived on Laurier’s campus. He later penned an international best-selling book, launched and sold a tremendously successful company, and now invests in the next generation of Canadian success stories.


Student Alumni of the Year: Daniel Cryderman (BA Econ '20)

Daniel Cryderman, sales coordinator at CI Financial, was presented this award for outstanding achievements as a student in forwarding the objectives of the Alumni Association through his work with the Student Alumni Association.

Extraordinary Entrepreneurs

From start to scale, the Lazaridis School offers programs, mentorship and resources to Canada’s entrepreneurs.

Our business incubator program, LaunchPad (watch for a renaming announcement soon) helps students and alumni launch a new venture through mentorship and programs.

The Women Entrepreneurship Centre works with women to help them in any stage of their business.

Our flagship Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises works with Canada’s most promising scaling tech companies to drive economic prosperity. Through the ScaleUp Program in the Lazaridis Institute, entrepreneurs have benefitted from 4,800 hours of 1:1 personalized mentorship, ScaleUp companies have created more than 2,000 jobs and raised more than $520 million in less than three years.


Lazaridis Institute Invites Canada’s Most Promising Growth-Stage Tech Companies to Virtual ScaleUp Program

Increasing domestic prosperity by making Canadian entrepreneurs globally competitive is the mission of the Lazaridis Institute for the Management of Technology Enterprises and was embedded in its robust webinar series this spring. Forever transforming programs to support Canadian talent in scaling Canadian technology firms, the institute welcomed its largest cohort to an online environment.

Over the next 12 months, the group will meet virtually — until gathering restrictions are relaxed — for workshops led by some of the world’s most successful tech executives and experts. Past workshop topics have included growth and valuation for Canadian scaleups, next-level product development, global marketing and growth SEO. The Lazaridis ScaleUp Program is sponsored by Borden Ladner Gervais, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, Deloitte and Boast AI.

The institute selected the following 13 of Canada’s highest-potential growth-stage tech companies:

Women Entrepreneurship Centre

Our newest entrepreneurship centre, the Women Entrepreneurship Centre (WEC), is dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs of every age, stage and culture who are looking to achieve their business dreams. WEC launched in 2020 and has supported 1,570 participants in hundreds of events and programs, including:

  • 1:1 Business Consultations
  • Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Workshops
  • “Start My Business” Bootcamps
  • “Grow My Business” Accelerators
  • “Soar” Networking Events

Watch Her “Soar” Featured Business: Ponyback Inc.

Lazaridis BBA graduate Stacey Keller, CEO and Founder of Ponyback Inc., participated in the WEC programs in 2020 and launched her uniquely designed ballcaps for women looking to style hair without the limitations of a ballcap.



LaunchPad Business Incubator

Our business incubator provides support, mentorship and resources to startups and social ventures founded by Laurier students and alumni on the Waterloo campus. A sister program offers similar support in Brantford. Alumni companies of LaunchPad made headlines this year, including two we chose to highlight:

Business Student Named Canada’s Student Entrepreneur National Champion

Over the summer, full-time BBA student Blair Forrest won $10,000 and was named 2020 Student Entrepreneur National Champion in Canada’s largest student leadership development organization, Enactus Canada. His company, AMZ Prep Canada, helps businesses sell their products on Amazon’s marketplace.

LaunchPad Company Transforms to Mass-Produce PPE

InkSmith went from a small educational technology company to one of the largest producers of personal protective equipment (PPE) in Canada – almost overnight. This incredible and inspiring transformation was led by Jeremy Hedges, founder and president of InkSmith and Laurier graduate (BA ’15) and Denisa Dica (BA ’18).