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$3.5 million gift from BMO expands Ivey’s leadership programming across Western’s campus

Apr 3, 2023

Character Leadership

L to R: Paul Carroll, Kimberley Milani, Dusya Vera, Sharon Hodgson, Mona Malone, Connor Chapman, Jeannine Pereira and Alan Shepard

Ivey today announced a donation of $3.5 million from BMO to the Ivey Business School’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership to create a new cross-campus Leadership certificate program available to all undergraduate students at Western University. In addition, BMO’s gift will strengthen the Institute’s transformative Leadership Under Fire course for HBA students and enhance its outreach to small- and medium-sized businesses through a free leadership playbook.

This landmark gift will advance Ivey’s leadership programming beyond the business school and into the wider Western University community, further expanding the Institute for Leadership’s mission of developing global citizens who have strength of character, strive to make a difference, and contribute to the flourishing of teams, organizations, and societies.

“We are incredibly grateful for BMO’s generosity and valued partnership,” said Sharon Hodgson, Dean of Ivey Business School. “I believe that BMO’s purpose to ‘Boldly Grow the Good in business and life’ is in perfect alignment with Ivey’s purpose and the Institute’s objectives. I am delighted to see the multipronged way this gift is having impact; Ivey students benefit from more access to Leadership Under Fire, Western students benefit from cross-campus programming, and we are also supporting small- and medium-sized businesses in the community.” 

“BMO is proud to support the Ivey Business School and to help drive new approaches to cross-faculty student programming and experiential learning,” said Mona Malone, BMO’s Chief Human Resource Officer and Head of People and Culture. “BMO's purpose to Boldly Grow the Good in business and life is focused on driving progress for a thriving economy, sustainable future and inclusive society. Through this partnership, we are investing in the development of future leaders, supporting local businesses, and empowering both to navigate future challenges with resilience.”

With BMO’s support, the Institute will create a new certificate program in Purpose-Driven Leadership. The program will allow students to develop an appreciation for their strengths and opportunities for growth in the various dimensions of leader character, and work on ways to develop those dimensions. It will also allow them to develop an informed, well-rounded perspective of leadership and purpose, enhanced by the peer learning in a diverse cohort. The gift allows the Institute to create a cohort of up to 75 students from across campus annually in their third and fourth years of studies, and with support of the broader university, there are plans to grow the Certificate in Purpose-Driven Leadership over time.

“The power of the certificate program is the interdisciplinary approach we are taking to develop purpose-driven leaders who are fueled by character,” said Dusya Vera, Executive Director of Ivey’s Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership. “This will be an innovative certificate that will build bridges between Ivey’s approach to developing business leaders and the many other faculties at Western that offer their own application of leadership within the particular context of their discipline or profession.”

Ensuring students are educated not just in the core competencies of their chosen discipline, but in leader character as well, can serve as a competitive advantage.

“Leadership development transcends disciplines,” said Western President Alan Shepard. “To have the most impact on society, it is clear that developing tomorrow’s leaders must extend beyond business schools and encompass future leaders across all fields. I’m thrilled that BMO has generously offered their support in creating such impact.”

Building on Ivey’s success as an international leader in case-based learning, the team behind the new program will develop cases that go beyond the business context but will look to broadly feature materials across the public, private, and non-profit sectors ensuring relevance to students from other faculties.

In addition to the new certificate program, BMO’s gift will immediately go towards doubling the number of students who can take the award-winning course, Leadership Under Fire: Developing Leader Character. Developed by Ivey Professors Gerard Seijts and Lyn Purdy, alongside retired military leaders David Quick and Paul Carroll, both EMBA ’16 graduates, the elective is modelled after the Basic Officer Training Course for Canadian Forces officers. The five-day program combines the best military leadership principles with real-world business applications. The course is one of the Ivey HBA Program’s most unique and transformative electives and is consistently oversubscribed and highly rated by students in course evaluations.

The gift will also help enhance the Institute’s outreach to small- and medium-sized businesses through the creation of a Purpose-Driven Leadership Playbook, a digital resource that will distill the Institute’s research on leader character and provide a practical approach to embedding character within their organization. This Playbook will allow small- and medium-sized business owners and managers to benefit from the School’s work and learn how to elevate their organizational purpose by leveraging the principles of Character Leadership.

“We believe that BMO is the perfect partner to help disseminate this information to business leaders who may not have access to the kinds of training and development programs available to larger businesses,” said Vera. “I’m excited to further strengthen our partnership and look forward to working together to amplify the research, impact, and outreach of the Institute’s groundbreaking work.”

Western and Ivey’s relationship with BMO

Western University and Ivey Business School enjoy a long and multi-faceted relationship with BMO Financial Group. For more than a century, BMO has been the University’s bank and is a long-standing donor to Western. Western alumni serve in top management positions, and BMO employees are particularly involved with Ivey, serving on leadership advisory boards, giving generously of their time, expertise, and financial support. BMO and its entities have generously donated more than $9.5 million to Western and Ivey to date, including support of the Richard Ivey Building, naming the 640-seat BMO Financial Group Auditorium, and, most recently, investing in Ivey’s Women in Asset Management program.

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