As a member of the University of Waterloo’s Board of Governors since 2011, Karen Wilkinson (MAcc ’90) was especially honoured that it was Canada’s incoming governor-general doing the asking when she was invited to join.
“David Johnston was just an outstanding leader, and I was always amazed at how great he was at remembering people’s names,” says Wilkinson, president, Karen Wilkinson Professional Corporation. “You’d meet him once, then see him six months later and he’d remember your name. Given the number of people he met, it was astounding to me.”
Wilkinson is a strong believer in giving back to the community that gave so much to her, which is why she is extensively involved with the University and regularly engages with faculty and students.
During her 30-year career at Deloitte — a company that has hired hundreds of co-op students in recent years and is consistently recognized by the University as a top employer — Wilkinson was the School of Accounting and Finance’s primary advocate, and was on the campaign committee that raised more than $8 million to support various University initiatives. She also speaks at student and alumni events and is an enthusiastic philanthropic supporter of many priority projects at the school.
“I clearly got a fantastic education at Waterloo,” Wilkinson says. “I just believe in paying it forward to the next generation of folks going through, to be involved in different ways on campus and help them have that kind of experience so that hopefully some of them will do the same as they move forward.
“Waterloo is an outstanding school. It’s got a great reputation. Because I was on the board, I had the opportunity to see at a high level the broader University that most people don’t get a chance to see, the leading–edge work the University does around co-op and innovation and entrepreneurship that you wouldn’t necessarily see when you’re a student in your own little world. It’s pretty amazing the scale they’re able to deliver. It’s part of the DNA that’s been there since the beginning and it’s going to be hard for anybody to truly replicate it.”