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IDEAs happen here

Guest post by RBC

May 8, 2024 — 

What if. 

The two words first spoken by those who dare to dream and then pursue it with determination and imagination. 

They are the trailblazers, innovators, and idea generators who lead from the front and leave the world behind them forever changed.

The International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA) is awarded annually by The Associates of the Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba. Leaders from across Canada and around the world gather in Winnipeg annually to honour a business executive who has achieved international stature and made an exemplary contribution to the economic life of Canada or the world at large.

The recipient is presented a custom designed, five-ounce pure gold medallion, specially produced by the Royal Canadian Mint. Since 1984, the IDEA dinner has grown to become a premiere business event in Canada.

History of honouring innovators

For forty years, IDEA has celebrated those who have left deep footprints on the global economic landscape from Richard Branson, Founder & Chairman of the Virgin Group of Companies, to Indra Nooyi, former Chairperson & CEO of PepsiCo, to Akio Morita, Co-Founder, Sony Corporation.

These giants impart their lessons to an audience of students, faculty, alumni, business leaders, and government officials who, in that moment, collectively become the students to the entrepreneurial teacher being honoured.

From among the honourees we know, names like Arianna Huffington, Founder of the Huffington Post, and legendary music producer David Foster, Founder of the David Foster Foundation, there are also those honourees we know from closer to home.

Ideas happen in every corner of the globe, and they also happen right here in Manitoba.

The first IDEA medal recipient in 1984 was UM alum and Manitoba’s own, the late Albert D. Cohen [LLD/87], CEO & Chairman of Gendis Inc. Four other Manitobans, also all UM alumni, have been celebrated with this award including 1997 recipient Israel Asper, Chairman & CEO, CanWest Global Communications Corp., 2012’s Stu Clark, oil and gas entrepreneur, 2019’s Hartley Richardson, President & CEO, James Richardson & Sons, Ltd., and Dr. Ernest Rady, Founder, President & CEO of American Assets Trust in 2020. 

The lessons from these homegrown heroes are many. 

Albert Cohen captured the birth and early history in his book I.D.E.A. that asked, “What business award has the whole world talking?” He spoke how this event would bring together the community to honour a well-known entrepreneur who either founded their company or revived a company experiencing distress.

Israel Asper [BA/53, LLB/57, LLM/64, LLD/98] has reminded us through his tremendous example that entrepreneurial success is not an end on to itself but the spark for social impact and philanthropy.    

Stu Clark [BComm(Hons)/76, LL.D./2011], a renowned philanthropist, has demonstrated that entrepreneurialism isn’t only what he excels at but also what we can all create space for. One of his many donations to the University of Manitoba enabled the establishment of the Stu Clark Centre for Entrepreneurship in the I.H. Asper School of Business igniting the entrepreneurial spark in students from all faculties.

Hartley Richardson [BComm(Hons)/77, LLD/04] at IDEA spoke to the importance of self-belief reminding us, “You all have the ability if you have the right attitude.” 

Dr. Ernest Rady [BComm/58, LLB/62, LLD/15] spoke to the power of gratitude, leveraging this opportunity to give gratitude back to the Manitoba community. “Because you gave my family freedom, you gave my family an occupation, you gave me an education and you gave me a great start in life. I’m grateful to you for what you gave me.”

Gerry Price

This year’s honouree, Gerry Price [BSc/70, MSc/72, LLD/17], Chairman & CEO of Price Industries, joins this celebrated class of UM alumni and honourees who have found both inspiration and a home in Manitoba. 

Gerry Price offers a choice – that, “You can go through life taking or giving.” Mr. Price shares that he chooses the giving approach, “I think it’s the only legacy that’s worthy of a life lived.” He weaves this philosophy into his approach to inspiring service, growth, resilience, innovation, a no-ego culture, and committing to the greater good.

RBC’s brand platform, Ideas Happen Here, is built on the belief that the world has entered a powerful Age of Ideas as the global community reimagines and reinvents itself. In this environment, RBC is uniquely positioned to lead, contribute, and convene to make purposeful contributions to those it serves. IDEA is one of many ways RBC does just that.

“Gerry Price clearly demonstrates that ideas have always – and will always – happen here,” shares RBC Regional President Kim Ulmer. “It is trailblazers like Gerry who inspire us to return each year to celebrate those who dare to power our economic engine through the boldness of their ideas and a passion for people and planet.”

Here’s to forty years of recognizing outstanding global entrepreneurs and Manitobans whose big ideas are changing our world.

RBC is a platinum partner in celebrating entrepreneurial excellence through The Associates of the Asper School of Business International Distinguished Entrepreneur Awards Gala on May 30, 2024. RBC proudly supports a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments and employee volunteer activities. See how on our website.

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