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Honouring excellence

Business faculty to recognize alumni, students with annual awards

Campus and Community

By Susan White

A social entrepreneur. An insurance maven. And students who give back.

Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration will honour some of its brightest students and best graduates at an annual awards ceremony called Partners on April 4.

Left: Lisa Browne. Right: Ken Bennett.
From left are Lisa Browne and Ken Bennett.
Photo: Submitted

Partners is a celebration of the business community that brings together members of the faculty, students, alumni and community to pay tribute to those who have achieved excellence in business while using their skills and expertise to contribute to their communities.

Award winners

At the ceremony, the following individuals will be recognized.

  • Ken Bennett (B.Comm.(Co-op.)(Hons.)’86), president, Johnson Inc., with the 2019 Alumni Honour Award;
  • Lisa Browne (BA’91, MBA’93), chief executive officer, Stella’s Circle, with the P.J. Gardiner 2019 Newfoundland and Labrador Entrepreneur of the Year Award;
  • Emma Coady (B.Comm.(Co-op.)’19) with the 2019 Dr. Robert Crosbie Undergraduate Student Citizenship Award; and
  • Kishan Gurung (MBA’19) with the 2019 Dr. Victor Young Graduate Student Citizenship Award.

“We are proud to celebrate the accomplishments of this year’s award winners,” said Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean.

“Both Ken and Lisa demonstrate great leadership, tenacity and commitment to their communities, and embody the success and community-mindedness that we hope our graduates will aspire to achieve.”

‘Prestigious award’

Ken Bennett
Ken Bennett

“I feel privileged to be recognized with such a prestigious award,” said Mr. Bennett.

“After being notified about the news, I took some time and reviewed the previous winners of the award and realized the honour and how it really speaks to the quality of our business school and the great achievements its alumni have made to the province.”

Mr. Bennett has served in a variety of roles at Johnson, ranging from corporate controller, vice-president of growth initiatives, regional vice-president and chief operating officer. In 2007, he was appointed president of Johnson Inc. and Unifund Assurance Company, where he has led a country-wide growth and acquisitions strategies to become one of Canada’s leading insurance and benefits companies.

“Memorial will always be a big part of who I am as a person and continues to have an impact on my career,” he said. “Johnson has significant presence in Newfoundland and Labrador, and employs a great number of Memorial alumni. This university is, and always will be, a big part of the Johnson success story.”

Social enterprise leader

Lisa Browne, CEO of Stella's Circle
Lisa Browne

This is the first time the faculty will recognize a social entrepreneur with its entrepreneur of the year award.

“More and more, people are demanding that our social challenges must be addressed,” said Ms. Browne.

“The selection of a non-typical entrepreneur [for this award] hopefully furthers the conversation about social enterprise and social entrepreneurship. We act in entrepreneurial ways, taking risks every day, trying to address many social challenges that have profound impact on people and our economy.”

Ms. Browne leads 125 staff at Stella’s Circle, which helps people who face barriers to participating in the community with housing, counselling and employment services. She has twice been named one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 50 CEOs by Atlantic Business Magazine (2017 and 2018), helped support the growth of Hungry Heart Café, and spearheaded the launch of Clean Start and Home to Stay. All three are social enterprises that support the work of Stella’s Circle.

“Being recognized with this award says that social enterprise is a force,” she added. “It also says that the Faculty of Business Administration is willing to be bold and push boundaries, to disrupt the status quo and to get people talking about what entrepreneurship is.”

“Lisa’s leadership in social enterprise and innovation makes her a role model for what a new economy based on inclusive innovation could look like,” said Dr. Dostaler. “Not only has she been professionally recognized for her achievements, but she’s respected for her commitment to community and guided by values of social justice for the greater public good.”

New awards recognize students

Also new this year are two student awards, which have been named after two prominent alumni of the business faculty (Dr. Crosbie and Dr. Young).

Commerce student Emma Coady
Emma Coady

“It’s an honour to be the first-ever recipient of this award,” said Ms. Coady, who is president of the Commerce Class of 2019 and this year’s chair of the 54th annual Business Day committee.

She’s also an active volunteer with Candlelighters Association, which supports children and families affected by childhood cancer.

“I believe recognizing community involvement is a great way to get more students engaged and passionate about volunteering. I hope this award will encourage students to get involved in their university or their community and make a difference.”

MBA student Kishan Gurung
Kishan Gurung

Mr. Gurung agrees, saying, “Volunteering has always been a way of life that provides me with satisfaction for making a positive impact in the lives of people.”

The native of Kathmandu, Nepal, has previously served as executive director of social affairs for the MBA Students’ Association. He has received several scholarships for his academic performance.

“I feel honoured for this recognition, which is the fuel for motivation for further community involvement and volunteering,” said Mr. Gurung.

Partners will be held at the Emera Innovation Exchange, Signal Hill Campus.

Tickets may be purchased by contacting Wanda Whelan at 864-2182 or businessevents@mun.ca by Friday, March 29.

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