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A Laurier graduate who has hired more than 137 co-op students is the recipient of Wilfrid Laurier University’s 2015 Alumni Co-op Employer Award of Excellence.

Pete Gibel, senior vice president of merchandising for Staples Canada, received the award at a special ceremony on Laurier’s Waterloo campus Feb. 4. Gibel, who graduated from Laurier with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1986, initiated the co-op program at Staples in 2004.

“Staples originally hired co-op students from Laurier because I was grateful for the phenomenal experience I’d had on my co-op work terms and wanted to reciprocate. We have continued to hire because the co-op students are so good at getting things done quickly. Laurier students fit in seamlessly at Staples, and we think that’s because both organizations have a family culture.”

In the past, Staples has employed students in merchandising, human resources, compensation, store operations and communications, as well as marketing. Students have been hired from across many of Laurier’s co-op programs, including business, arts and the MBA.

“At Laurier, we believe that our co-op program is critical because it fosters an environment where our students can gain great experience, take risks and absorb new skills,” said Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor. “Employers like Pete are critical to their education. They prepare our students for the situations they'll experience when they graduate.”

The Alumni Co-op Employer Award of Excellence recognizes alumni who have been consistent, longstanding employers of Laurier students. Recipients provide a high degree of training and mentorship to co-op students and make outstanding contributions to Laurier’s co-op education program. The award is presented jointly by Laurier Co-op and the Development and Alumni Relations office.

Numerous students, alumni and staff supported Gibel’s nomination.

Jayme Neale (BBA ’13) and Hailey Huels (BBA ’14), both category specialists with Staples Canada, shared their experience working with Gibel in their nomination. “Pete does a great job creating an accepting and welcoming culture for all employees including co-ops. He has an open door policy, facilitates training sessions and introduces new co-ops to the entire department. The experience he offers is unlike any other co-op term we experienced.”

To nominate a graduate for the Alumni Co-op Employer Award of Excellence, contact Laurie Lahn, marketing and external relations coordinator, Co-operative Education, at llahn@wlu.ca.

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