Mike Garvey Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award

A lifetime of engagement means more than leaving a legacy

by Patty Mah

Image of Mike GarveySAF alumnus receives Alumni Achievement Award

On a wintry day in 2019, the School of Accounting and Finance (SAF) celebrated alumni, donors, and scholarship winners at the annual SAF Awards Celebration event…one of the last in-person celebrations before the global pandemic.

On that evening, to mark 10 years of celebrating alumni, donor, and student success, the SAF granted a special Lifetime Achievement Award to Mike Garvey (BA ’69, FCPA, FCA). Entering Waterloo as an arts student when Waterloo had yet to celebrate a decade of existence, this distinct Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes Garvey’s generosity in giving of his time, his engagement, and his support to the University of Waterloo and the SAF. His generosity ensures that future generations continue to benefit from the education and reputation from the University and SAF.

After graduating in 1969 with an Honours Economics major, Garvey joined Price Waterhouse and had a long and fascinating career that took him from London, UK to the Middle East to Cuba. Throughout his esteemed career, Garvey always gave his time and support, through volunteering and chairing the Boards of The Donwood Institute, the University of Waterloo, The Michener Institute of Applied Health Sciences, the Friends of Ontario Universities, and the Hospital Diagnostic Imaging Repository Services. Garvey’s time and support focused on philanthropic endeavours, always with the goal to better our society through education and research. Even after retiring from PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2006 as an Audit Partner, Garvey maintained an active role as ambassador of SAF and the University of Waterloo.

“I’ve always had an interest in helping young people grow and realize their potential and I had an interest in teaching…Since Waterloo made a commitment to the profession, I thought I would come down and see how I could help as a volunteer, and that’s how I got started,” recalls Garvey of his decision to remain engaged with Waterloo.

As the founding president of the UW SAF Alumni Association and the National Alumni Council, it was evident early on that Garvey would be creating a legacy of engagement and commitment to his alma mater. Garvey continues to be engaged during his retirement and is currently involved in the SAF’s Capital Campaign Committee, is a member of the SAF Advisory Council, and Chair of the SAF Fundraising Subcommittee.

As Garvey reflects on his commitment to the institution that provided the tools and resources for his career success, he’s keen to launch an appeal to all Waterloo alumni to commit to lifelong giving as he had. A donor since 1982, Garvey’s support to his alma mater ebbed and flowed with his career but with one constant goal of donating each year, regardless of amount.

“Our UW education provided a significant springboard to our careers and success.  As Waterloo’s reputation and stature grows, so does ours by association. Each of us as alumni has a vested interest to invest in that growth to not only benefit from the reflection but to ensure that those who follow us receive the best education in their careers.  They will be the beneficiaries of Waterloo’s growing strengths and we, as part of society, will benefit from their contributions and leadership as they follow us.”

In recognition of his lifelong giving and engagement with the University of Waterloo and the SAF, Garvey’s long-time friend and fellow SAF alumnus, José Hernandez, flew from the Netherlands to have the honour of presenting the Lifetime Achievement Award to Garvey.

“I want to be like this man one day. Mike is one of the best things that Canada has to offer… his openness, his level of trust, and his commitment to getting the young up the chain. I would not necessarily be here if it were not for folks like Mike… Most things that Mike does are unreported. That’s the secret of his success - his humility. Hence I couldn’t miss this opportunity.” – José Hernandez (MAcc ’98), Founder and CEO, Ortus Strategies

To further honour their friend, Hernandez and his wife/partner Shana Laurie (MAcc ’98) (to whom Garvey introduced to Hernandez when both were working for Garvey in Cuba), established the Mike Garvey Entrance Scholarship.

“During times of great need and adversity, there is no better way to celebrate servant leadership than by setting up a scholarship at Waterloo. Deservingly, this scholarship is made in honour of Mike Garvey, a Waterloo accounting graduate, whom has served SAF, Waterloo and Canada with great dedication and commitment.  Mike is a role model.  He is humble and has never looked for acknowledgement of his generosity.  He has been incredibly supportive of the career of young leaders (including us), creating opportunities beyond imagination.  He is wise and quietly, without pushing, he has built the foundation for how we see our responsibility to give back.”