Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award

Bobbie Racette is the 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year
Bobbie Racette is the 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year (photo credit: Janet Pliszka from Visual Hues Photography)

The Gustavson School of Business proudly produces the annual Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award (DEYA), BC's premier entrepreneurship business gala and a university flagship event. Heading into its 20th year, this gala celebrates entrepreneurial excellence and recognizes inspirational individuals who have had a significant and positive impact on society, and demonstrated entrepreneurial leadership, innovation and community contribution. 

The gala provides an opportunity for guests to connect and network with a variety of business professionals and experience a master class in entrepreneurship with our incoming recipient. Over a gourmet three-course dinner, guests will be surrounded by one-of-a-kind recipient-inspired décor, sparking the imaginative ambience DEYA has become known for.

At Gustavson we recognize the importance of providing a space to come together for an evening of inspiration, celebration and recognition of incredible entrepreneurs who have made the world a better place.

Indigenous tech founder named 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year

Bobbie Racette, founder and CEO of talent-as-a-service platforms Virtual Gurus and askBetty, is the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business 2023 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award (DEYA) recipient. 

Virtual Gurus trains and connects highly skilled, remote workers (virtual assistants) based in Canada and the US, with companies in need of fractional and on-demand help that can be scaled quickly to meet the changing needs of their clients. Racette, who is Cree-Metis, has built her enterprise with the goal of offering equitable work opportunities to individuals from underrepresented communities. 

“We are thrilled to recognize Bobbie Racette as our 2023 recipient,” says Peter Gustavson, chair of the DEYA committee. “Bobbie’s unwavering focus on building thriving, inclusivity-first platforms is changing the Canadian tech industry in critically important ways.” 

The AI-powered Virtual Gurus platform, and associated app askBetty, celebrate diversity and prioritize talent acquisition from among Indigenous, 2SLGBTQIA+ and other underserved communities. 

“We listen to our Virtual Gurus stories, and every one is unique. I am proud of the opportunities we provide for underrepresented folx, by growing and scaling Virtual Gurus without losing focus of our north star. I am honored to receive such an award,” says Bobbie Racette. 

Racette was told “no” many times along her start-up journey. Today, more than 800 virtual assistants are part of the Virtual Gurus platform and Racette recently closed a successful $8.4 million Series A funding round, becoming the first Indigenous woman in Canada to do so. But when she was starting the company in 2017 with $300 and some help from her mom, more than 170 venture capitalists said “no” to her pitch. Instead of taking their advice and sidelining her personal values to appeal to traditional investors, she redoubled her commitment to her unique vision, and began pitching impact investors. 

“Bobbie’s commitment to her vision and drive to empower others is an important example to our students and any aspiring entrepreneur,” says Saul Klein, dean of the Gustavson School of Business. “She has shown how passion and tenacity can be translated into a values-based business success. We are honoured to be celebrating Bobbie and look forward to learning more from her journey at DEYA and beyond.” 

Racette will receive the award at the Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award gala at the Victoria Conference Centre on Oct. 17.

Bobbie Racette is the Founder and CEO of Virtual Gurus, a talent marketplace that leverages proprietary technology to match organizations and entrepreneurs with highly skilled Canadian and American fractional administrative workers. Forbes recently announced Virtual Gurus as one of the top 19 Innovative Tech Startups to watch. 

Bobbie is on a mission to create employment opportunities for historically underrepresented individuals, including First Nation, Métis and Inuit peoples, members of LGBTQ2+ communities, racialized peoples, individuals of alternate abilities and those living in remote communities. 

An unstoppable force in the Canadian startup community, Bobbie acts as a mentor for eCommerce North and serves on the Board of the Telus Friendly Future Foundation, helping to build brighter futures for at-risk youth through the power of technology. She’s also a member of The51’s Community Council and Calgary’s CORE Working Group, ensuring the voices of underrepresented folx are included at both local and national levels.  

Named as one of 50 Changemakers for 2021 by Report on Business magazine, Bobbie was also recently honoured by Startup Canada as Indigenous Entrepreneur and Woman Entrepreneur of the Year. Bobbie is a Cree-Metis woman who prides herself on building an inclusivity-first company, championing Indigenous peoples and the LGBTQ+ community.+

Join us as we welcome our 2023 DEYA recipient, Bobbie Racette, Founder & CEO of Virtual Gurus and askBetty, to the ranks of exceptional entrepreneurial leaders who make up our DEYA recipients.

When:     Tuesday, October 17th, 2023

Where:    Victoria Conference Centre | 720 Douglas St. Victoria, BC

Time:       5:15 PM – VIP Private Reception (exclusive) 
                6:00 PM – Champagne Reception
                7:00 PM – Gala Dinner

Attire:      Black Tie

For further information, ticket sales and event details, please contact us at .

The Gustavson School of Business is delighted to offer valuable and engaging sponsorship options that showcase your outstanding support while also providing you with the opportunity to make new connections and strengthen your relationships with existing community partners. We welcome the opportunity to discuss additional ways in which we can collaborate with you and incorporate your organization’s values and goals into the DEYA sponsorship options below.

For further information, ticket sales and event details, please contact us at .

View the complete sponsorship package for DEYA 2023

Item More details Premier

Number Available












VIP reception sponsor

Name and logo featured on event promotions and signage as presenting sponsor





Participation in VIP reception program

Opportunity for representative to provide formal remarks





Industry exclusivity






Table (10 guests) with preferred placement


2 tables

1 table



Access to VIP reception


20 tickets

10 tickets

2 tickets 


Participation in video message

Video to be played during gala to audience of 600+ guests





One table (10 guests) in main dining room






Guest access to the main champagne reception






Verbal acknowledgement at the gala by emcee






Logo on audio visual presentation at gala






Logo on select promotional material

Including pre and post event advertisements





Name on select promotional material

Including post event advertisements





Logo on DEYA event website






Name on DEYA event website






2022: Ratana and Arran Stephens, Co-Founders of Nature's Path

Ratana and Arran Stephens 

Arran and Ratana Stephens founded Nature’s Path in 1985. What started as a spark of an idea in the back of their Vancouver restaurant has since become North America’s largest independent, certified-organic breakfast and snack food company.

Some things haven’t changed during those years: Nature’s Path is 100% organic, non-GMO and family-run. It’s a social enterprise that operates on the triple-bottom-line principle: people, planet and profit, in that order. In an age of sell-outs, Nature’s Path remains a proudly independent family enterprise, involved in farming, processing and sharing organic products worldwide. The family has invested deeply in regenerative organic farming and farmland in Canada and the USA, via its Legend Organic Farms – supporting a higher level of organic than the minimum required by USDA. 

Today, Arran serves as Chairman at Nature’s Path, Ratana as CEO, and son Arjan and daughter Jyoti help lead from the front, along with many hundreds of valued team members. Since 2008, Ratana and Arran personally, and additionally through Nature’s Path, have committed to donating almost $40 million to various philanthropic and community service efforts.   

The Stephens cite an invaluable lesson from Arran’s father as their inspiration: “Always leave the earth better than you found it.”

Arran and Ratana received the Order of British Columbia (2021), Canadian Marketing Legends Award (2021) and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual Drishti Awards (2021). They have also received numerous individual accolades, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Arran, 2002) and Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women by the Women’s Executive Network (Ratana, 2013).

2021: Anthony von Mandl, O.C., O.B.C. Founder and CEO of The Mark Anthony Group

Anthony von Mandl

Intensity, infectious passion and an unwavering commitment to his vision led Anthony von Mandl O.C., O.B.C. to build an international drinks company of which the hallmarks include a portfolio of luxury wineries and iconic beverage brands.

After winning ‘Canadian Winery of the Year’ for the sixth time, Mission Hill Family Estate stunned the wine world by winning ‘Best Pinot Noir in the World’ at the Decanter Wine Awards in London. Iconic Wineries of British Columbia is the von Mandl Family’s collection of prestige wineries and Estate vineyard in the Okanagan Valley, including Mission Hill Family Estate, CedarCreek Estate Winery, CheckMate Artisanal Winery, Road 13 Vineyards, Liquidity Wines, and the radical new Pinot Noir - Martin’s Lane Winery.

At the outset, no one would back von Mandl’s dream, so he had to self-finance by pioneering new beverage categories in the drinks trade, including the world’s first flavoured ciders with the Okanagan Cider Company in the early 1980s, followed by the creation of the Mike’s Hard Lemonade in the 1990s and subsequently White Claw, ‘the purest hard seltzer in the world.’ Mike’s has since gone on to achieve iconic brand status in America and White Claw is quickly capturing the imagination of consumers who’ve made it the #1 brand in the explosive hard seltzer category in U.S. and Canada. Building on this success in North America, Anthony is taking a long-term approach to build White Claw into an iconic, global brand.

2020: Jim Pattison, Chairman and CEO of The Jim Pattison Group

Jim Pattison

Jim Pattison is the Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and sole owner of The Jim Pattison Group.  The Jim Pattison Group is Canada’s 2nd largest privately held company.  The Jim Pattison Group has  46,000 employees world wide, annual sales of $10.6 billion and operations in 541 locations.  With activities in Canada, the U.S. Europe, and Australia, The Jim Pattison Group is involved in a wide variety of industries including: Food Services, Packaging, Distribution, Manufacturing, Communications, Entertainment, Transportation, Agricultural Equipment, Forest Products, Export Services and Real Estate.

The Jim Pattison Group began on May 8, 1961 when Mr. Pattison purchased a General Motors automobile dealership by borrowing $40,000 from the Royal Bank of Canada, and placing his home and life insurance policy with the Bank as collateral.

Jim Pattison was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and moved with his parents from Saskatoon to Vancouver in 1935.  He has lived in Vancouver ever since.  While attending the University of British Columbia, Mr. Pattison paid his tuition and expenses by washing cars at a used car lot, and by selling cars to fellow students.

Jim Pattison has served as a Director on a number of public company Boards on both the New York and Toronto exchanges and serves as a Trustee on the Board of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.  He held the unpaid position of Chairman, President and CEO of Expo ’86, a world-class Exposition held in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1986..   

Mr. Pattison was appointed to the Order of Canada in 1987 and the Order of British Columbia in 1990.  He is also the recipient of the Governor General’s Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of Canada.  Mr. Pattison is an inductee of the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and the Canadian Professional Sales Association Hall of Fame.  He was awarded Entrepreneur of the Year – Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000, ,and the Young Presidents  Organization Canadian Icon Award in  2007.  In April, 2012 by Command of Her Majesty The Queen, Mr. Pattison received the Diamond Jubilee Medal commemorating her sixtieth anniversary. In June of 2014 he was given the Freedom of the City Award from the City of Vancouver.

Mr. Pattison has been married to his wife Mary for 68 years. He and his wife have three children.

2019: Sue Paish, Q.C. CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster

Sue Paish

Sue Paish has been a leader for growth and innovation across the business, technology, medical and legal sectors for the past three decades. At her current role as the CEO of Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster, Sue has helped bring together companies of all sizes, post-secondary institutions, research organizations and non-profits, to fund ambitious, collaborative technology leadership projects. Under Sue’s leadership, the Supercluster has positioned Canada as a global leader in digital technologies, allowing the nation to capture new economic opportunities, support the scaling the small enterprises, increase GDP and advance competitiveness.

Prior to her role with the Supercluster, Sue was one of Canada’s foremost employment and labour lawyers for Russell & DuMoulin before becoming the first woman and the youngest ever managing partner in the firm’s history. Here, she oversaw the firm’s expansion across three continents, leading it through one of the most significant mergers in the country.

Transferring seamlessly into corporate leadership, Sue led transformative change in her role as CEO of Pharmasave—Canada’s largest chain of independent retailers—where she implemented new dispensary management technology that has since become the Canadian standard. During her role as CEO of LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services, Sue employed innovative and ground-breaking technology to double the company’s size by creating Canada’s largest diagnostic lab, introducing genetic testing, and reinventing the company’s approach to government and stakeholder relations.

When not transforming organizations, Sue enjoys any time that she can get outdoors, particularly hiking the trails in North Vancouver and spending time in the remote wilderness. Sue and her husband Brad are two proud parents of three daughters, and reside in Vancouver, BC. Sue has been recognized for her community and business contributions with awards including: Honorary Doctor of Technology (BCIT), UBC Faculty of Law Distinguished Alumni Award, YWCA Woman of Distinction, Queen’s Council, Hall of Fame for Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women and an Influential Woman in Business Lifetime Achievement Award.

2018: Stewart Butterfield, Co-Founder and CEO of Slack

Stewart Butterfield

Stewart Butterfield is the co-founder and CEO of Slack, an enterprise software platform that allows teams and businesses of all sizes to communicate effectively. Today Slack is used by more than nine million people every day, and its customers include Autodesk, IBM, Capital One, Conde Nast, eBay and EA.

Prior to Slack, Stewart co-founded and lead Flickr—an image and video hosting website—from 2003 through its 2005 acquisition by Yahoo!. By 2008, it was heralded as one of the largest web services in the world, with more than 50 million users and billions of photos.

Stewart has led a distinguished career as a designer, entrepreneur, and technologist in his nearly two decades working on the web. Time Magazine named him one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World, and he has been ranked among BusinessWeek's Top 50 Leaders. He was also recognized as the 2015 Technology Innovator of the Year by the Wall Street Journal, and has been featured on Vanity Fair’s New Establishment List.

Stewart graduated from the University of Victoria with a degree in philosophy, continuing on to earn a Master of Philosophy from the University of Cambridge. He retains academic interests in cognitive science, the history and philosophy of science, and economics.

Stewart currently resides in beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia. 

2017: Don Mattrick, former President of Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business

Don A. Mattrick

As an industry-leading executive in entertainment, games and consumer products, Don has firmly established himself during a 30-year career in the technology space.  Don’s recent role includes Chief Executive Officer of Zynga, a social game Services Company headquartered in San Francisco, California. Before joining Zynga in 2013, he spent six years at Microsoft – the last three as President of the Interactive Entertainment Business. 

Don was responsible for leading the team that grew Microsoft’s Xbox 360 global installed base by 700 percent, to nearly 75 million consoles, and the Xbox Live membership from 6 million to nearly 50 million subscribers in 41 countries.  Don is widely recognized for transforming the Microsoft Interactive Entertainment Business from one that was operating at a loss into a sustained and profitable business.  Prior to Microsoft, he served in several leadership positions at Electronic Arts, most recently as President of Worldwide Studios.  At age 17 he co-founded his first company, Distinctive Software and was their CEO. Distinctive Software Inc., was acquired by Electronic Arts in 1991 and subsequently became EA.

Raised in Vancouver, British Columbia, Don is married with two children. In acknowledgement of his role in building the interactive entertainment business in Canada and the active development of industry links with the University of British Columbia, Don received the UBC Award as an Honorary Fellow from the Sauder School of Business and was awarded the highest honor Simon Fraser University can bestow, the Doctor of Laws. He has served on several public and private boards, including the advisory board for USC School of Cinematic Arts and is currently serving as Co-Chair of the Premier's Technology Council. 

2016: Linda Hasenfratz, CEO of Linamar Corporation

Linda Hasenfratz

Linda Hasenfratz is the Chief Executive Officer of Linamar Corporation. Linamar Corporation is a diversified global manufacturing Company of highly engineered products powering vehicles, motion, work and lives. Hasenfratz joined the company, founded by her father, in 1990 and worked her way up from the ground floor, experiencing all aspects of the business including running a machine, engineering and operations management. Since her tenure as the Chief Executive Officer started, Hasenfratz has grown the company from an $800 million enterprise to over a $5.3 billion company.

Hasenfratz’s enthusiasm for the arts prompted her to join the Board of Governors of the Royal Ontario Museum in 2002 where she was subsequently named Vice-Chair, a position she still holds today with great passion. In 2012 Hasenfratz became the inaugural Chair of the Philanthropy Leadership Cabinet of the Guelph General Hospital. Involvement in charitable organziations continues to be an important focus for her.

Hasenfratz has also sat on the Board of Advisors for Catalyst Canada since 2003 and the government council, Women On Boards Advisory Council since early 2013. Hasenfratz’s desire to see women progress in business to the top level of industry prompted her to participate in these two key initiatives.

Strengthening her position as a Canadian and Global leader, Hasenfratz was appointed to the CIBC Board of Directors in 2004. She was Canadian Chair of the North American Competitiveness Council in 2008, a trilateral group of executives from Canada, the US and Mexico convened by the countries’ leaders to debate and advise on key recommendations regarding enhancement of the NAFTA region. Hasenfratz became a member of the Board of the Business Council of Canada (formerly the Canadian Council of Chief Executives) in 2010 and was appointed Chair in early 2016. Her contribution to this important policy and advisory group has assisted her in developing relationships and advancing ideas to key business and government leaders.

Hasenfratz supports one of Linamar’s key industries, the automotive industry, through her appointment as the first female director to the Faurecia Board of Directors, a French automotive supplier, in 2011. Hasenfratz has been named one of the Automotive News 100 Leading Women in each year of its publication in 2000, 2005, 2010 and 2015.

Hasenfratz was recognized for her contributions to Canadian business through an Honourary Degree from Ryerson University in Toronto in 2003 and an Honourary Degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo in 2011 as well as the Outstanding Leader Award from the same institution in 2007. In the spring of 2014 The Asper School of Business at the University of Winnipeg honoured Hasenfratz with the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA) which is to honour a business leader who has achieved outstanding entrepreneurial success and has made and exemplary contribution to economic life. In the fall of 2014, Linda Hasenfratz was awarded the Ontario Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award – Manufacturing and the overall Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

Hasenfratz was also extremely honoured to be awarded the National Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for Canada at a gala in late November and to represent Canada at the World Entrepreneur of the World Conference in Monaco in June 2015. The French Government honoured Hasenfratz in June of 2015 with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre national de la Légion d’honneur, one of the highest honours bestowed upon a civilian in France.

Hasenfratz was appointed to the Canadian Business Hall of Fame along with her father, Frank Hasenfratz in 2016.

2015: David Foster, businessman, philanthropist and record producer

David Foster

Born in Victoria, British Columbia, Foster began studying piano at age four. The son of a maintenance yard superintendent and a homemaker, he has gone on to become one of the most successful record producers in history — creating albums that have collectively sold in the hundreds of millions. He lives by his personal motto, “compromise breeds mediocrity.”

This philosophy has shaped the way Foster has approached everything in his more than four decades as a musician, songwriter, composer, arranger, producer, businessman and recording artist. It is the reason why superstars like Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Andrea Bocelli, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Rod Stewart, and Stevie Wonder have trusted him with their voices and to help them realize their musical dreams.

Foster has created hit songs and award-winning gold and platinum albums for a diverse array of artists including Earth, Wind & Fire, Natalie Cole, Michael Bolton, Seal, Chaka Khan, Kenny Rogers, Dolly Parton, Chicago, Hall & Oates, Brandy, ’N Sync, Boz Scaggs, and Gloria Estefan; propelled singers who have straddled both pop and classical styles, like Andrea Bocelli and Josh Groban, into the mainstream; created culture-defining soundtracks for blockbuster films like The Bodyguard, Urban Cowboy, and St. Elmo’s Fire.

Foster has won 16 Grammy Awards, including three for Producer of the Year, an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe, and racked up three Oscar nominations for “Best Original Song.”

In 2012 Foster entered a new phase in his career, becoming the chairman of Universal’s Verve Music Group. His mission, he says, is to turn the fabled jazz label (founded in 1956 and home to Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, and other jazz luminaries) into the premier label for singing legends and legends in the making. Foster recently signed Grammy- winning artist Sarah McLachlan and R&B-soul great Smokey Robinson.

Foster has made charitable work his life’s other priority and founded The David Foster Foundation in 1985; its mission is to provide financial support to Canadian families with children in need of life-saving organ transplants. “My love of music has brought me many rewards, and I feel the need to give back to others less fortunate as often as possible,” Foster says.

In May 2013, Foster received his star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame. It is located on Vine Street in front of the iconic Capitol Records building, adjacent to the stars of his musical heroes — John, Paul, George and Ringo. The location is doubly meaningful as Capitol was the label that signed Foster’s band, Skylark, in 1971. Their song, “Wildflower” became a Top 10 hit and launched Foster on his unending road to success.

Honours and Recognition: Order of BC 1995, Order of Canada 1998, Canadian Walk of Fame Inductee 2002, Honourary doctorates—UVic 1995, University of California, Berkeley 2002, Officer of the Order of Canada 2006, Canadian Music Hall of Fame Inductee 2007, Canadian Songwiters Hall of Fame Inductee 2010, Hollywood Walk of Fame Star 2013.

2014: Dennis Washington, Founder of The Washington Companies

Dennis Washington was born in Spokane, Washington in 1934. He moved with his family back to his mother's hometown of Missoula, Montana, when he was very young. When the Second World War broke out, Washington's parents moved to Bremerton, Wa., where his father worked at a defense shipyard. At the age of 8, while living in a government housing project, Washington contracted polio; he made a good recovery.

Washington's parents divorced after the war. He bounced around California, Washington, and Montana, living with relatives and going from one school to another. By the age of 14, he was self-sufficient, earning money by boxing groceries, delivering newspapers, shining shoes at a railroad depot, and working as a mechanic in service stations.

After high school, Washington went to Alaska to pursue a job in heavy construction. Two years later, he returned to Montana and worked for his uncle who owned a construction company. By age 26, he was vice president of the largest construction company in Montana. Three years later he went into business for himself. By 1969, he was the largest contractor in Montana; within 10 years, Washington Construction would be listed among the largest in the nation.

In the early 1970s, Washington branched into mining and diversified repeatedly, entering into dam building, railroads, and marine shipping.  “It's all possible because of teamwork,” he says, “and people with a passion for their work.”

In 1996, Washington Construction merged with Morrison Knudsen, a publicly traded construction and engineering giant. From that, Dennis Washington directed the formation of Washington Group International, acquiring components of Westinghouse and Raytheon, to mould one of the largest design/build companies in the United States.

Today, the Washington Companies comprise more than a dozen affiliated companies that are leaders in rail and marine transportation, ship building and repair, mining, environmental remediation, heavy equipment distribution, and aviation.

2013: Brandt C. Louie, President and CEO of H.Y. Louie Co.

Brandt Louie

Brandt grew up in Vancouver, in an entrepreneurial family that is still influenced by the wisdom and example of his grandfather, Hok Yat Louie.  H.Y. Louie immigrated to Canada in 1896 where he very quickly became an influential leader and pioneer in both the burgeoning Chinese, and Vancouver, business communities.

In 1972, under the guidance of his father, Tong Louie, Mr. Louie commenced his career with H.Y. Louie Co. Limited. Rising through the ranks of the family business, Mr. Louie was named president in 1987 and became chairman and CEO of London Drugs in 1998.

Brandt Louie’s business philosophy and entrepreneurial spirit is the catalyst driving the ongoing success of the H.Y. Louie group of companies. He has a passionate belief in customer service, fairness in all employee and vendor-partner relationships, and actively encourages creativity and innovation.  Under his leadership the group of companies has grown considerably and has become more diverse.  In addition to H.Y Louie Co. Limited and London Drugs; the group now includes LAS, a charter airline, and Sonora Resort, a Relais and Chateau award winning resort and conference center.

2012: Dennis (Chip) Wilson, Founder of lululemon athletica

Chip Wilson
"Chip is an excellent role model for our students — he's built an enormously successful organization doing what he loves,” says former Dean of the Gustavson School of Business, Dr. Ali Dastmalchian. Chip Wilson founded Lululemon in 1998 and opened its first store in Kitsilano in 2000. The company now has 151 stores and showrooms across Canada and the US and in Australia, China, and New Zealand.

2011: JR Shaw, Founder of Shaw Communications

JR Shaw

They say a successful entrepreneur is someone who can see just a bit further down the road than the rest of us. This statement rings true for the Gustavson School of Business and its Board of Advisers who awared JR Shaw, visionary and founder of Shaw Communications Inc., its 2011 Distinguished Entrepreneur of the Year Award (DEYA).

Shaw launched Capital Cable, the forerunner to today's giant, in Edmonton in 1966, where he had relocated from Ontario to expand the family pipe coating business. Born James Robert Shaw in 1934, he grew up in Brigden, a small farming community in southern Ontario close enough to the US border to pick up the television signals originating out of nearby Detroit and Cleveland. It was with deep sorrow that the family of JR Shaw, Executive Chair and former CEO of Shaw Communications Inc., announced his passing on March 2020. A brilliant leader, an extraordinary entrepreneur, founder of Shaw Communications Inc. and Corus Entertainment Inc., JR was a true pioneer of Canadian business, a visionary of the Canadian media and telecommunications sectors, a dedicated philanthropist, a friend who was loved by so many, and a devoted family man. He will be missd by all who knew him. 

2010: Dr. Alex Campbell Sr., Co-founder of Thrifty Foods

Dr. Campbell

Alex Campbell was the co-founder and chairman emeritus, and former president and CEO of Thrifty Foods. The grocery legend began in 1977 when he and Ernie Skinner opened the first Thrifty Foods store in Victoria. The enterprise grew to include 20 stores across Vancouver Island, Salt Spring Island and the Lower Mainland. Thrifty Foods employs more than 3,700 staff, making the company the largest private employer on Vancouver Island. The store that began it all is now one of the top grocery stores in Western Canada in sales per square foot. In 2007, Campbell sold the business to Sobeys, a chain of grocery stores with roots in Stellarton, Nova Scotia.

In addition to his leadership in providing service and retail excellence, Campbell has been an unwavering supporter of the community. We regret to say that Dr. Campbell passed away in 2011. He is missed by all who knew him.

2009: Sir Terence Matthews, Chair of Mitel Corporation and Chair and Founder of Wesley Clover

Sir Terence Matthews
Sir Terence is Chair of Mitel Corporation, a leading provider of next generation IP (Internet Protocol) communications solutions and chair and founder of Wesley Clover, a company that builds high technology businesses. The company focuses on next-generation networking and telecommunications opportunities. Sir Terence has started more than 80 technology companies, almost all have been successful. Wesley Clover runs the Wesley Clover Technologies Venture Program, a program that develops university students and new graduates into the next generation of entrepreneurs.

2008: Clive Beddoe, a founding shareholder in WestJet

Clive Beddoe

Clive Beddoe is founding shareholder and chair of the board of directors of WestJet. Prior to September 2007, he held the roles of President and Chief Executive Officer. Mr. Beddoe has been instrumental in making WestJet one of the most successful airlines in recent aviation history.

His entrepreneurial vision and business acumen helped shape the development of WestJet's corporate culture, executive team and strategy. His strong background in financial planning and strategic management was gained through several succesful real estate and plastics enterprises. He is a private pilot licensed to fly numerous types of aircraft. It was his keen interest in aviation that spurred the formation of WestJet.

2007: David Black, President of Black Press

David Black

David Black launched his publishing empire in 1975 with the purchase of his father's weekly newspaper in Williams Lake, B.C. From there, the company has grown to become the largest privately-owned newspaper company in Canada. With its headquarters in Victoria, Black Press Ltd. now owns more than 150 papers in Western Canada, the Pacific Northwest, Ohio and Hawaii; 17 printing operations in North America and extensive web publishing operations.

The Vancouver-born Black earned a civil engineering degree at UBC and an MBA at the University of Western Ontario. He is the past chair of the 1994 Commonwealth Games bid committee and recently completed a three-year term as chair of the BC Progress Board.

2006: Gwyn Morgan CM, former President and CEO of EnCana Corp.

Gwyn Morgan
Gwyn Morgan rose from his modest roots on an Alberta farm to become one of Canada's foremost business leaders and ardent champion of the importance of Canadian headquartered international enterprises. He devoted three decades to building Canada's largest energy company, leading the creation of EnCana Corporation through a merger which was widely viewed as the most significant transaction in Canadian energy sector history. When he stepped down as founding CEO at the end of 2005, EnCana had become North America's leading independent oil and natural gas production company, with an stock market value of approximately $60 billion. Gwyn has been recognized as Canada's Outstanding CEO of the YearTM and also as Canada's Most Respected CEO.

2005: Dave Ritchie, Chair and former CEO of Ritchie Bros. Auctioneers Inc.

Dave Ritchie
Dave was born in Kelowna, BC on March 2, 1936 and was the youngest of two sisters and three brothers. After graduating from Kelowna High in 1955, he went to work full-time in his father's second hand store in Kelowna. Dave and his two brothers later took over the store, which was then called the O.K. Used Furniture Store, and established Ritchie Bros. Galleries in 1958 to engage in general auctioneering.

2004: Inaugural Recipient Jeff Mallett, former President and COO of Yahoo!

Jeff Mallett
Born in Vancouver and raised in Victoria, Jeff Mallett attended the University of Victoria before moving to the United States to attend school and play soccer. Jeff is the former president and chief operating officer of Internet media giant Yahoo! Inc. and current owner of the San Francisco Giants baseball team.