Life-Changing Experience Inspires Giving

Vern Tao MBA '06
Vern Tao

During the early months of the COVID-19 crisis after the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic in March last year, Schulich alumnus Vern Tao (MBA ’06) was steeped in thousands of proposals from companies seeking support from the Ontario government to help combat the pandemic. Since then 19 months have passed and Vern finds himself busier than ever trying to help companies create pathways toward a sustained economic recovery.

As Senior Business Advisor in the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Vern advises high-growth firms to build their businesses here and abroad. He credits Schulich for giving him the essential knowledge and training in business and management that have allowed him to develop his career in the Ontario Public Service.

Coming from an engineering background, one course that Vern found particularly interesting was Accounting, which he describes as something that looks simple but is hard to master.

Vern remembers his Accounting Instructor, Catherine Byers, who patiently helped him to understand the discipline and its importance in business. “The Accounting knowledge that I gained from Schulich has allowed me to better understand a business’ financials, which is indispensable in my current role, so that I can provide appropriate advice and take measured action to help clients overcome economic obstacles. I really took full advantage of my Schulich experience which was tough and challenging, but enjoyable and inspiring at the same time,” recalls Vern.

That life-changing Schulich experience keeps Vern connected to his alma mater, championing the School and the students through contributions to the Schulich Annual Fund and mentorship program. Last year, Vern supported the inaugural Schulich Giving Day, and looks forward to participating again in this year’s campaign that will take place on November 18.

Vern wanted to support and inspire Schulich students to strive for their goals and be successful amid the challenging climate brought about by COVID-19. His advice?  “Vigilance, preparation, and adaptation are necessary to manage crises which could happen anytime, anywhere, locally and globally.”

As Canada and the global community, continue to grapple with COVID-19 and its day-to-day impact on lives and livelihoods, Vern – a seasoned business leader with over 20 years of experience in engineering, marketing, and software — believes that new global crises are inevitable.

“COVID-19 has reshaped how we communicate and do business with each other. We must improve our supply chain, infrastructure, manufacturing and technological capacities to achieve self-sufficiency in Canada. Innovation is important. The use of technologies, such as automation, AI, high-speed networks, sensor, communication software and e-commerce solutions will shape how we carry out our life and business in times of crises. In a rapidly changing environment, there is no room for complacency,” concludes Vern.

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