Skip to Main Content
Alumni · Pat Morden

Flying High

Mar 31, 2014

Clouston Award

Vinay Chopra, MBA ’08 and Smita Yadav, MBA ’06

Ross Clouston always drove hard for success, and his sons were inspired to do the same. For more than 15 years, the Ross N. Clouston MBA Award has fostered drive and achievement in exceptional MBA students.

In World War II, Ross Clouston worked in radar but longed to become a fighter pilot. Eventually he convinced the powers-that-be to send him back to Canada for flight training. One day during training, he was attempting a landing when a crosswind caught his plane and flipped it over. Clouston escaped with his life, but the plane was destroyed and his career as a pilot was over.

“That failure motivated and drove my father throughout his career,” says Bob Clouston, MBA ’72. “He passed that drive on to me and my brother.” In turn, Bob and Brendan Clouston, MBA ’79, have fostered drive and achievement in exceptional Ivey students by creating the Ross N. Clouston MBA Award in 1998.

After the War, Ross Clouston attended McGill University, where he was first in his class in chemistry and won a full scholarship to Harvard Business School. He returned to Canada and joined the family business, which he built into Bluewater Seafood, a major force in the Canadian market. He sold the company to Gorton’s, a large U.S. company, in 1963 and served as president of Gorton’s from 1968 to 1986. He was the only person to serve as president of both the national Fisheries Council of Canada and its U.S. equivalent, and was knighted by the King of Norway.

Ross ensured that his sons also benefited from an exceptional business education. Says Brendan: “He always used to say that you need judgement, experience, training and luck to succeed, and he could help us with two of those.” Brendan worked as a management consultant and at the Bank of Boston before joining U.S. cable company Tele-Communications Incorporated. Today he lives in Europe where he has been involved in the mobile industry. Bob’s career began with General Foods in Toronto following which he worked for Warner-Lambert, Leaf Confections, and Sargento Foods in the United States. Since he retired he has written several well-received novels.

In addition to honouring their father’s legacy, Brendan says the scholarship was created to help develop young talent and support Ivey in recruiting top students and building its international reputation. “We went through the Ivey experience and we benefited enormously,” he says. “We have the ability to help others coming along behind us, and that’s the right thing to do.”

Konstantin Markov, MBA ’03, is one of the 14 Ivey students who have received the scholarship since it was established. Markov was working as a management consultant in his native Russia when he applied to Ivey. Coming from a developing economy, he was grateful for the generous financial support. But he says the scholarship also had a powerful motivational effect. “When you see that your achievements from your home country are recognized, you feel more confident,” he says. “You can really relax and perform better in school.” Markov went on to become an executive in the Russian mobile industry. Today he is director of the Moscow region for Mobile Telesystems (MTS).

Three years later, it was the turn of Smita Yadav, MBA ’06, to receive the scholarship. Yadav, who was working with an IT consulting company in India, applied and was accepted to several top U.S. schools, in addition to Ivey. But when she received news of the scholarship, her decision was easy.

Like Markov, she says the impact went far beyond dollars and cents. “The big thing is that you feel recognized. You know that the School thinks you’re valuable and that you have the potential to make a difference.” Yadav joined RBC when she graduated and is currently Manager of Performance Management and Enterprise with RBC Financial Group. She has shared her Ivey experience with current students at her undergraduate school, the prestigious India Institute of Technology.

Vinay Chopra, MBA ’08, received the scholarship in 2008. Chopra has an undergraduate degree in Commerce from the University of Toronto. He did some consulting and spent several years working in his mother’s small business before deciding to do an MBA. “I had always wanted to go to Ivey,” he says. “Once I knew I had the scholarship, I had a sense of responsibility that I needed to take full advantage of the opportunity.”

A few months after completing his degree, Chopra launched Mobiroo, a business selling gift cards for mobile applications. Mobiroo has now pivoted to a subscription-based business model, and will be active in 15 countries by mid-2014.

For Andrew Sanden, MBA ’12, the Clouston scholarship came at a critical time. He and his wife both wanted to do MBAs and were in the process of selecting a program when they found they were expecting their first child. The scholarship allowed them to carry on with their plans, with Sanden completing his degree in 2012 and his wife the following year. After Ivey, Sanden stayed home to care for his infant son while his wife finished her degree. They moved back to their native Calgary in mid-2013, and Sanden is now working with Innovate Calgary, a non-profit business incubator. “The scholarship enabled us to pick our careers without having to worry about paying back our loans quickly,” he says.

So what would Ross Clouston, who died in 2008, think of the young business leaders who have received the scholarship given in his name? Chances are, he would be very proud. “In terms of finding and supporting talented young people, the scholarship has been very successful,” says Brendan. Bob adds, “We’re so pleased to know that our father’s drive for success will not end with my brother and me.”