Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award Recipients

 In 2023, we changed our previously named SAF Alumni Achievement Award to be the SAF Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award.

2023 Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Jeannine LiChong (MAcc ’92) | Executive Vice-President and Portfolio Manager, Waratah Income Fund

Jeannine LiChong

Jeannine LiChong is an Executive Vice-President and Portfolio Manager for the Waratah Income Fund and is on the Summerhill Resorts Ltd. Investment Committee. In her previous role, she was an Executive Vice President and Portfolio Manager for Canadian Equities, responsible for managing $2.6 billion in assets. She was also a member of both its Executive Management and Asset Mix Committees.

LiChong is currently the Chair of the Toronto Symphony Foundation and is a past board member of the Royal Conservatory of Music.  

LiChong received an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Accounting degree from the University of Waterloo, and holds CPA, CA, and CFA designations.   

In addition to her roles on the SAF Advisory Council and SAF’s Communications Sub-Committee, LiChong is dedicated to supporting and mentoring SAF students. She has been the industry mentor for the CFA Investment Research Challenge team, an Honouree in the SAF Fellowship Program and is a member of the University of Waterloo Women in Finance Advisory Board. 

2022 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Susan Uthayakumar (MAcc '95) | Chief Energy and Sustainability Officer, Prologis

Susan Uthayakumar is the chief energy and sustainability officer at Prologis. She is responsible for evaluating and scaling both existing and emerging energy solutions across the Prologis platform and for ensuring that Prologis continues to be the leader in sustainability in the logistic real estate industry.

Prior to this, Susan was president of Schneider Electric's Sustainability Business Division. During her 16-year tenure there, she was instrumental in transforming Schneider Electric to a digital power and automation technology company by driving sustainability, efficiency and resiliency. Before that, she was CEO of Schneider Canada. Uthayakumar recently was recognized as a 2021 Environment+Energy Leader 100 Honoree for successfully delivering climate mitigation action to enterprise customers.

Susan also has an Executive MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University with a focus on international business practices. Susan has also completed the Women’s Senior Leadership Program and Executive Scholar Certification from the Kellogg School of Management and holds the Chartered Accountant (CA) and Certified Public Accountant (CPA) designations.

2021 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Benjie Thomas (PDAcc '98), FCPA, FCA | Canadian Managing Partner, KPMG Canada

Face of Benjie Thomas

Benjie is the Canadian Managing Partner for KPMG’s Advisory practice. Benjie is responsible for the firm’s Advisory business, comprised of over 2000 professionals across six geographies and three business units: Deal Advisory, Management Consulting and Risk Consulting.

As an adviser, Benjie has more than 20 years of experience assisting Canada’s most prominent private equity funds and strategic buyers. Benjie has advised on some of Canada's largest transactions, with a consistent track record of providing sought-after advice and innovative solutions to create success. With a history of building strong, trusted advisor relationships with clients, Benjie demonstrates a vibrant personal approach as a leader that inspires and engages people and teams.

As a University of Waterloo alumnus, Benjie is committed to programs and priority projects that are essential to the school’s mission and success. Benjie established an endowment fund that annually provides three scholarships to students in the School of Accounting and Finance.

2020 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Pamela Steer (MAcc '94), FCPA, FCA, CFA, CBV


Pamela Steer most recently held the position of Chief Financial and Corporate Strategy Officer at Payments Canada. As a member of the executive management team, Pamela had overall responsibility for overseeing the financial and corporate planning functions of the organization.

Pamela joined Payments Canada from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), one of the largest insurance organizations in North America, where she was the CFO and Head of Finance and Employer Services.

Pamela is a member of the City of Toronto’s Investment Board and sits on the board of Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto. In addition, she was appointed to the global advisory council for the Accounting for Sustainability Project (A4S) under the Prince of Wales’s Charitable Foundation and is a founding member of the Canadian chapter of the A4S CFO Leadership Network.  She is also a founding advisory council member of the Institute for Sustainable Finance.

Pamela is a proud alumnus of the University of Waterloo, where she received her Master of Accounting degree and is a member of the School of Accounting and Finance advisory council.  She is a CPA Fellow, accredited as a Chartered Accountant and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and Chartered Business Valuator designations. In 2019, Pamela was awarded Canada’s CFO of the Year.

2019 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Michelle Lam, MAcc '01 | Former President & CEO, True & Co.

Michelle Lam

Michelle Lam founded True&Co in 2012, and started the company in her living room, creating the very first intimate apparel Fit Quiz together with a group of women and 500 bras that she bought on her personal credit card. Since launching, more than 7 million women have taken the quiz, sharing over 200 million data points about her body, her life and her tastes. True&Co compiles this feedback and through the help of the community, drives personalized marketing and consumer-centric product design.

As a result of her consumer-driven work, Michelle was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People, and was honored by the National Retail Federation as part of “The List of People Shaping Retail's Future.”

Previously, Michelle was the first female investor at Bain Capital Ventures, where she invested in deals like LinkedIn and worked on companies like online pioneer Rent The Runway. She had previous stints at Microsoft Corporate Strategy, Boston Consulting Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

2018 Alumni Achievement Award Winners:

Betty Ann Jarrett, MAcc '86, CPA, CA | Global Partner Affairs Leader, PwC International

Betty Ann Jarrett

Betty Ann Jarrett (MAcc ’86) CPA, CA, is Global Partner Affairs Leader, PwC International. In this role, Betty Ann, and her team, are responsible for supporting the PwC Network Leadership and the Global Board in matters dealing with partners in network leadership roles and human capital matters for staff reporting to them. She is also the PwC Global Tax Human Capital Leader, helping the tax practice to transform its people model to drive its business strategy. Prior to these roles, Betty Ann was a Corporate Tax Partner, providing corporate tax services to large and medium-sized multinational corporations for 25 years, including advising clients on tax planning and compliance, mergers & acquisitions, tax accounting, and assistance with tax authority audits. She continues to be an active coach and mentor. She graduated from the Masters of Accounting program at the University of Waterloo in 1986.

Betty Ann is the Vice-Chair of the Oakville Hospital Foundation and the Chair of its Finance, Risk, Audit and Investment Committee. She is also a member of the Audit Committee of the Oakville Community Foundation. She was also a volunteer and team manager for many years for the Oakville Basketball Club. She is married to Brian, and has two adult children, Kaitlyn and Kevin.

Kevin Strain, MAcc '90 | Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer, Sun Life Financial

Kevin Strain

Kevin Strain (MAcc ’90) is currently the Executive Vice-President & Chief Financial Officer at Sun Life Financial. He is responsible for Sun Life’s worldwide Finance, Taxation, Capital and Investor Relations, Enterprise Services and Corporate Development. Kevin has previously held several senior roles, including Vice-President of Investor Relations for Sun Life’s Corporate Office, and Senior Vice-President of Sun Life’s Individual Insurance and Investments division in Canada. Prior to this, Kevin was President, Sun Life Financial Asia where he was responsible for Sun Life’s interests in Asia, including identifying opportunities for growth in the region and managing the company’s relationships with its partners. He is a Chartered Accountant and graduated from the Masters of Accounting degree from the University of Waterloo in 1990.

In addition, Kevin continues to be involved with the School of Accounting and Finance. Previously, he did so as an honouree and helped mentor students, but since 2010, he has been serving as a member of the School of Accounting and Finance’s Director’s Advisory Council.

2017 Alumni Achievement Award Winners:

Cindy Ditner, MAcc '86, CPA | Global Head of Assurance, BDO International

Cindy Ditner

Cindy is responsible for developing auditing and assurance standards, training and software tools for the BDO network worldwide. Previously she was the chair of BDO International’s Audit Steering Committee, the group that is responsible for setting policies and standards to ensure quality in their global audit practice. Prior to joining the international firm, Cindy was the National Assurance Standards Partner for BDO Canada for many years, holding several other positions in the Canadian firm before that. Cindy served as a member of CPA Canada’s Audit and Assurance Standards Board for seven years during the period when Canada decided to adopt International Standards on Auditing. She also served on CPA Canada’s Board of Evaluators for the last three Uniform Final Examinations. Cindy has remained involved in UWaterloo through the Accounting and Finance Alumni Association.

Carol Leaman, MAcc '89, FCA | President & CEO, Axonify Inc.

Carol Leaman

Carol is the President and CEO of Axonify Inc. Prior to Axonify, Carol was the CEO of PostRank Inc., a social engagement analytics company that she sold to Google in June 2011. Previously, Carol held C-level positions at RSS Solutions and Fakespace Systems, to which she also sold to strategic acquirers. A regular contributor to Fortune magazine and a well respected thought leader, Carol has been published in learning, business and technology journals. She brings her experience and insight to not-for-profit and for-profit boards and has won awards, including the Waterloo Region Entrepreneur Hall of Fame Intrepid Award (2011), the Sarah Kirke Award (2010) for Canada’s leading female entrepreneur and the Canadian Business Profit 500 Female Entrepreneur of the Year (2017).

2016 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Tim Jackson, BA '92

Tim Jackson

Tim Jackson has an extensive background as an entrepreneur and business leader. Most recently, Tim joined SHAD in July 2016 after serving as an Executive Vice-President at the MaRS Discovery District, one of the world’s largest urban innovation hubs. He’s also served as CEO of the Accelerator Centre, an incubator for technology start-ups and was a Vice President of University Relations at the University of Waterloo. He co-founded Tech Capital Partners (an early-stage venture capital firm), and served as CFO and CEO at Waterloo based technology firm PixStream (sold to Cisco Systems). Tim has been an active volunteer in his community chairing the boards of organizations such as The Waterloo Public Library, The Food Bank of Waterloo Region and the Centre in the Square Theatre. He has co-founded two charitable organizations and believes SHADs are as likely to transform Canada’s non-profit sector, as they are to build the corporate sector.

2015 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Upkar Arora, MAcc '85, CPA, CA, ICD.D

Upkar Arora

Upkar Arora is CEO of Illumina Partners, a boutique advisory firm specializing in providing strategic, operational and financial expertise. He has 30 years of experience working domestically and internationally with public and private companies, on operations, capital markets transactions, acquisitions, dispositions, turnarounds and financings, as a senior executive, advisor or principal in several industries.

Upkar obtained his CA and CMA designations in 1986, placing in the top 5 in Ontario on his qualifying exams, and his Independent Corporate Director (ICD.D) designation in 2011. He was valedictorian and a proud MAcc graduate from the first UW accounting class in 1985. Upkar has been a strong supporter of the School for the past thirty years. He has taught, established several scholarships, been recognized as an Honouree in the School of Accounting and Finance Fellowship Program, spearheaded the innovative Success Beyond the Classroom series and currently serves on the SAF Advisory Council.

Upkar is Chair of the Board of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and also serves on the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and Metrolinx boards.

2014 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

R.N. (Rod) Barr, BA '69, FCPA, FCA

Rod Barr

Rod has made a significant contribution to the profession and to the University over many years. His vision and ability to relate to all professional members and the public were essential to achieving the recent unification, new professional competencies, and new educational program for professional accountants in Canada and Ontario.

Rod’s passion and dedication to the University remains steadfast in the many ways he stays involved including supporting students through mentorship and scholarship, and providing advice and counsel on numerous occasions. Currently, Rod is the Chair of St. Paul’s University College as he was among the first groupof residents at St. Paul’s College.

He was a founding member of the University of Waterloo Accounting Alumni Association (1980), and has an impressive record of volunteer activities in his community. He participates in a number of fundraising projects, has had a long-time association with minor sports, as well as an active involvement in his church. His commitment to the profession, his alma mater and his community are truly inspirational.

2013 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Tracy Elop, MAcc '89

Tracy Elop (MAcc ’89) is CFO of KidsAbility, an organization that empowers children with special needs to reach their full potential.  She joined KidsAbility in 2011, after a twenty year career in the “for-profit” world, to give back to the community.  She is also a partner in Social Venture Partners.

Tracy is Chair of the Board of Directors of Kitchener’s Grand River Hospital, and also chairs the Waterloo Hospitals Collaborative Committee, a group that seeks out collaborative opportunities to improve the quality of hospital care in the region.  

Since earning her CA and CMA designations, Tracy has co-authored an accounting standards book, taught at Ontario’s School of Accountancy, marked the Uniform Final Examination, and mentored students and other young professionals.

Among her personal accomplishments, Tracy includes running a marathon, working on a mission trip and backpacking around the world for fourteen months with her husband and three young children.

2012 Alumni Achievement Award Winner:

Anish Chopra, MAcc '94

Anish Chopra joined TD Asset Management Inc. in 1998.  He has spearheaded Canadian Value and Target Return strategies for both TD Mutual Funds and TD Waterhouse Private Investment Counsel.  Anish is also the lead manager for several institutional hedge fund strategies.  In addition, he is a part of the management team supporting the TD Pension Fund and a member of the TD Wealth Asset Allocation Committee.  Anish was the inaugural recipient of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators (CICBV) Top Chartered Business Valuator Under 40 Award and was recently recognized with the CICBV Communicator Award.

Anish is very involved in the community and his alma mater.  Currently, he is the Chair for the School of Accounting and Finance Student Investment Fund and an Honouree in the Student Fellowship Program.  He is also the Vice Chair of the User Advisory Council of the CICA, serves as a member of the Ontario Judicial Council and is a Chapter Executive with the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association in Toronto.  He also held numerous positions on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Cancer Society (Central Toronto Unit) where, as Chairperson of the Fundraising Committee, he helped the unit win the Toronto Regional Fundraising Award.

2011 Alumni Achievement Award Winner

Glenn Ives, BMath '84

Glenn graduated as Ontario's Uniform Final Evaluation gold medalist. Moving from his first employer, Clarke, Henning & Co. to Coopers & Lybrand in 1985, Glenn spent a year in Toronto and almost two in the United Kingdom. He returned to Canada in 1987 and joined TVX Gold Inc. the following year. In 1993, he became Director and Chief Financial Officer of Vancouver-based Vengold Inc. In 1999, Glenn joined Deloitte as a partner and audit specialist in the mining and financial institutes sectors. In June 2010, he assumed his current role in Toronto as Chair of Deloitte in Canada. Glenn was elected a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in February 2011.

Glenn's work in the community has its roots in decades of coaching hockey and soccer teams. Glenn is a member of the Princess Margaret Hospital Foundation Board and the Catalyst Canada Advisory Board. He has been Deloitte's Vancouver United Way leader, and introduced Impact Day in his home office as a way of involving articling students in local nonprofit organizations before it became a national Deloitte initiative.

2010 Alumni Achievement Award Winner

Keith Farlinger, BMath '77

Keith has spent his career with BDO and is currently the CEO of BDO International Ltd, assuming the role November 1, 2017 following two years as CEO Americas. He became the Chief Executive Officer at BDO Canada in October 2008 after serving as Regional Managing Partner for the Toronto region of the firm. With over 35 years of experience providing auditing, business planning and financial consulting services, he has held leadership positions in the accounting industry and many business associations, as well as an active participant in his community. 

Since joining BDO in 1973 (then Dunwoody & Company), Keith has been involved with a variety of organizations, including the of Chair of CPA Ontario, Ontario Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and Executive Council, Seneca College Board of Governors and Executive Committee, St. Peter & Paul Finance Committee, and United Way Allocations Committee. He has also lectured at York University and coached several of his sons sports teams.

2009 Alumni Achievement Award Winner

Robert Harding, BMath '80

Bob Harding

Robert Harding (BMath '80, LLD '05) tells students to balance their professional lives with community activities. A quick glance at Harding's accomplishments reveals that he takes his own advice to heart.

As chair of the University of Waterloo's Board of Governors and chair of Campaign Waterloo, Harding has made significant contributions to the life of Waterloo, while managing a successful business career.

As a young man, Harding chose the accounting profession on advice from his father, who said the world would always need accountants. He chose Waterloo because of its co-op program. Harding's work terms helped him secure a position with Deloitte & Touche in Toronto upon graduation.

He earned his CA designation in 1981 and later joined Hees International Bancorp Inc., where he eventually became chief executive officer. When Hees merged with Brascan Corporation, he became chair. Today, he is chair of Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

Harding was honoured as one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40 in 1996 and was elected a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in March 2000. The University of Waterloo granted him an honorary Doctor of Laws degree in 2005.

Harding has also served as a trustee for the United Way of Greater Toronto and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. Toronto Mayor David Miller appointed Harding co-chair of the city's Strong Neighbourhoods Task Force. In 2002, Harding was awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal for his community service.