Carla Wilson 18 Sep, 2016.
Superheroes clad in brightly coloured costumes dropped in to a reception honouring one of their own — Linda Hasenfratz, who was dubbed the Woman of Steel.
Hasenfratz, 50, is this year’s University of Victoria Peter B. Gustavson School of Business Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year. She is CEO of Linamar Corp. of Guelph, Ont., which owns manufacturing plants in this country and internationally and employs almost 24,000 people. The nickname Woman of Steel refers to Linamar, which specializes in manufacturing components for automotive and other industries.
Hasenfratz is the 13th UVic Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year and the first woman to be recognized in that way. The reception at the Fairmont Empress was held on Sept. 12, followed by a gala event at the Victoria Conference Centre.
Hasenfratz is chairwoman of the Business Council of Canada, which includes Gwyn Morgan, former president and CEO of EnCana Corp. Morgan, who was UVic’s Distinguished Entrepreneur in 2006, telephoned Hasenfratz to ask if she would consider being honoured this year.
She was thrilled.
“I like the idea of talking to students and hopefully giving some ideas and inspiration, and an example of things they can do.”
Even if a student does not start a business, that person can take an entrepreneurial attitude into the workplace as an employee, she said.
Carole Taylor, chancellor emeritus of Simon Fraser University and former B.C. minister of finance, serves with Hasenfratz on the North American Group of the international Trilateral Commission, an organization founded to create closer co-operation among members.
“She is just a tremendous entrepreneur. She really deserves all of the awards that she has been receiving,” Taylor said.
“Linda is strong, and she’s got the courage of her convictions. She will stand up and you will know what she is thinking, what she is feeling. I’ve been in political meetings with her when she has told ministers exactly what good policy would be.”
David Black, UVic’s 2007 Distinguished Entrepreneur and president of Black Press, praised the annual event, saying: “It really elevates the business school in the minds of all business people here, and also around the province.”
Jeff Mallett, former president and chief operating officer of Yahoo!, was the first Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year in 2004 and maintains a strong connection with UVic.
He presented two lectures to students on Sept. 12.
“They made me an honorary professor; that’s how much I’m hanging around,” he said with a smile.
This event helps foster relationships, he said.
“I think it just really galvanizes the business community at large and the university. It breaks down the us and them — it becomes one. Singular. You really see the bond taking shape. It has come a long way since 2004 when we had the inaugural one.”
The distinguished entrepreneurs are a “good mix of different types of people,” Mallett said. “We correspond between events. If something comes up, I may call David Black and see what is going on. It has really formed a bond here.”
Saul Klein, dean and Lansdowne Professor of International Business at UVic, said: “The overall impact for us is to demonstrate how much we encourage entrepreneurship and be able to showcase business leaders who have done some amazing things in the world.”
He referred to Hasenfratz’s message to a classroom of students earlier in the day when they heard: “That you’ve got to dream big, you’ve got to have big ambition.”
Klein said: “That is a message that resonates because then you can follow it up with yes, somebody has done something really amazing and it makes it seem much more possible and doable.
– See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/life/islander/around-town-uvic-honours-a-drive-for-success-1.2345970#sthash.pSmqnGmF.dpuf