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Hey Google: Nancy Ting ’94

Head of Consumer and Brand Marketing at Google Hong Kong, globe-trotter Nancy Ting ’94 knows innovation and new technologies really can make the world a better place—and she’s focused on bringing them to market. We checked in with the impressive alumna to see what’s next in tech and ask what advice she has for those who want in.

Whether you’re checking in on Gmail, down a virtual rabbit hole, or asking your Google Home to convert ounces to grams, there are few of us whose lives haven’t been touched by the online powerhouse. More than 3.5 billion searches are conducted on Google each day—that’s 40,000 per second—and it accounts for over 92 per cent of all global internet searches. Somewhere along the way, Google even co-opted our language, switching silkily from noun to verb. “Google it,” has become a go-to phrase, regardless of which search engine you’re on.

“Climb the mountain not so that people can see you, but so that you can see the world.”

So after a year where we spent more time on screens than ever before, we spoke with alumna Nancy Ting ’94, Google’s Head of Consumer and Brand Marketing in Hong Kong, who works for the company that, literally, has all the answers.

Nancy started with Google after moving to Hong Kong in 2010 where she now lives with her seven-year-old daughter. Though her role keeps her busy, Nancy makes sure to prioritize their time together, playing tennis and golf and, most recently, picking up skateboarding.

The alumna graduated from Ridley in 1994, alongside her brother Newton. Their parents had sent them to Ridley to broaden their perspectives; Newton lived in Merritt South and Nancy moved into Gooderham House West. Though it was her first time living away from home, Nancy quickly settled in, recalling fond memories of learning Caribbean dancing from her roommate Philice Davis ’94, her mentor, Mrs. Williams—the first female pilot in St. Catharines—and gathering with the rest of the GWest girls at the home of their House mother, Mrs. Close, she called her ‘second home.’ Nancy still keeps in touch with classmates via social media and catches up with some of them right in Hong Kong.

“I’ve always wanted to solve problems to make the world a better place, so I decided to pursue an engineering degree. I went from not knowing how to turn on a computer to programming circuit boards in four years! So never be afraid to pursue disciplines that seem daunting. If you have the passion, there is always a way.”

After graduation, Nancy attended Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, where she studied Electrical and Computer Engineering. “I’ve always wanted to solve problems to make the world a better place, so I decided to pursue an engineering degree,” she explains. “I went from not knowing how to turn on a computer to programming circuit boards in four years. So never be afraid to pursue disciplines that seem daunting. If you have the passion, there is always a way.”

Nancy may not have known exactly what the end goal was at the time, but accruing a strong, transferrable skillset enabled her to work toward what she did know she wanted: to make a difference and be able to travel.

“Having a background in science and maths helped me land jobs and projects in different parts of the world,” she says. For Nancy, living in new places is an exciting way to get to know people from different backgrounds and cultures, and it enables her to appreciate different points of view. She’s lived so far in Toronto, London, New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Austin, San Francisco, and Beijing.

“The challenging part is that one needs to re-establish one’s social circle,” she responds when asked how she settles into a new spot. “But I’ve found that if you follow your own interest, be it music, yoga or sports, you’ll be able to establish new circles pretty easily.”

The key, she adds, is to be willing to try something new. For example, when she was living in New York, Nancy was drawn to comedy, so she joined improv classes at Upright Citizen’s Brigade. It was an opportunity to meet people outside her work environment—and to have a good laugh while she did it.

That willingness to explore and try new things served Nancy well as she built her career, which has taken several unexpected turns along the way. Nancy’s first job was in Toronto as an eCommerce programmer at IBM, where she programmed internet applications from eCommerce websites to mobile apps to internet banking. Two years later, wanting to learn more about business, she moved to New York and worked for Deloitte Consulting as a strategy and management consultant. She also pursued an MBA at MIT, gaining skills in areas like accounting, finance and marketing and switched industries, becoming an investment banker at Morgan Stanley. Next, Nancy started her own company, Mode Republic, a user-generated magazine which showcased international fashionistas’ daily outfits. The magazine offered a ‘Shop This Look’ feature so you could shop for similar items from online stores.

But it was after moving to Hong Kong that Nancy was offered a position on Google’s marketing team, and she started out doing working for the Ads business in Greater China. “Working for years in different industries and functions, only reinforced my passion to use technology to make the world a better place,” she says. “Google is a company that’s constantly innovating, and it encourages employees to explore new positions and geographies every few years.”

Two years ago, she switched to B2C marketing, and now looks after products like YouTube, Google Play, Google Classroom, Android, and more. “Marketing is a great mixture of arts and science,” she remarks. “We focus on quantitative data analysis as well as identifying true user insight—then we come up with creative campaign ideas and bring them to market.”

The pandemic certainly affected how consumers and businesses alike use technology—a steady progression toward online options was sped up out of necessity, and traditional businesses recognized an urgent need for digitization. As foot traffic was reduced, small businesses were forced to build websites, up their social media game, and figure out digital ads so they could still be found. And, what’s more, they needed to deliver their products and services via those online channels.

“Wellbeing has different definitions for people. It’s important to go through the exercise of making it clear to yourself what makes you happy, what wellbeing means to you. Then you need to openly communicate that to your boss, your co-workers, your family—especially what is your ‘non-negotiable.’”

And it wasn’t only commerce that was affected; day-to-day life still relies on digital tools, be they for work, remote learning or entertainment which, as Nancy notes, brings with it tremendous opportunities in all areas.

Those opportunities mean that roles like Nancy’s are incredibly busy, so of course we have to ask how she manages her time and keeps on top of her own wellbeing—juggling motherhood, managing marketing for a company that’s constantly churning out new products, and tackling the year’s tougher realities like remote work and school.

“Wellbeing has different definitions for people,” she replies. “It’s important to go through the exercise of making it clear to yourself what makes you happy, what wellbeing means to you. Then you need to openly communicate that to your boss, your co-workers, your family—especially what is your ‘non-negotiable.’”

For Nancy, it’s important that she keeps healthy and spends quality time with those who matter. The pandemic was an opportunity to get in shape and keep her immune system strong, and she’s worked over the past months to focus on eating well and exercising. “I turned my biological age back to 25-years-old!” she laughs.

With days filled with meetings, she also sets aside time where she turns off and just focuses on her work, and makes it clear to her colleagues that being there for her daughter—particularly in important moments—is her ‘non-negotiable.’

“It certainly helps that I love what I do for work,” Nancy says. “Even when I have some spare time, I’d be reading about the tech industry or the latest innovations. I’d recommend young Ridleians strive to land a job in a field that aligns with their passion as soon as they can. When your work is something that you enjoy, the wellbeing challenge is significantly reduced.”

“In the coming decades, there will be job titles we’ve never heard of before. Equipping yourself with strong foundational skills in math, science and coding will better prepare you for exciting new job options.”

As students look ahead to their own careers, many of them considering jobs in the tech industry, Nancy recommends they equip themselves with strong foundational skills—like math, science and coding—that will give them plenty of room to pivot when required and to move around.

“In the coming decades, there will be job titles we’ve never heard of before,” she advises. “Those foundational skills will prepare you for exciting new options. And don’t worry if you aren’t good at these things now. I failed Maths and Physics in Junior High. The turning point for me was at Ridley when I had amazing teachers who helped me understand how things work. Seeking great mentors and information will help you to master the latest knowledge—you just need to be inquisitive and invest the time and effort.”

It’s sound advice. As opportunities expand, and with them, our ability to connect with and impact others across the globe, Nancy is the perfect example of someone who has approached her career with a strategically open mind and adventurously open arms. And as we conclude our conversation, each a world away from the other, connected only by a few of clicks, she leaves off with the words she’s always lived by: “Climb the mountain, not so that people can see you, but so that you can see the world.”


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from the Fall 2021 issue.

Data Driven: Jeff Bell ’88

Ridley students and employees spent the past year connecting largely via Microsoft Teams, so we just had to sit down with longtime MS expert, Jeff Bell ’88 to talk tech. Now, the alumnus shares his take on the future of work—and how Microsoft kept us clicking during a global pandemic.  

Jeff takes our call from his home office in Seattle, Washington. “Well, it wasn’t a home office until a year ago,” he explains practically, looking out at the Olympic Mountains, “it was our guest bedroom. But that’s the way the world has changed.” Like many of us, Jeff, too, has been working from home during the pandemic.

Back in 1991, the numbers minded Ridleian took on a summer internship at Microsoft. At the time, Jeff was working on an adaptation kit for companies to put MS-DOS 5.0 in their handheld devices (which he nods to as an essentially early ancestor of the iPhone). His officemates were busy working on Windows 3.1 and employees one door over were tackling applications. Jeff returned to Princeton University that fall to finish up his senior year, then moved out to Seattle as a fulltime Microsoft employee.

“There were always people who worked remotely—we just tended to ignore them. Now we’ve all been that remote person for the past year-and-a-half, there’s that much more awareness of how to make it work for everyone.”

He’s worked there ever since, challenging the ‘Bay Area stereotype’ that people in tech tend to hop from company to company. Over the years, Jeff’s been able to move within the organization and dive deep into a variety of projects that speak to his skills and interests, including type and typography; digital rights management; digital payments and wallets; tools for early e-commerce; and eBooks and ePub standards. And if, like us, you love the ‘Save as PDF’ functionality in Office Suite, you can thank Jeff—he led the small team that worked with Adobe to add it as a built-in feature.

Today, Microsoft employs more than 175,000 people worldwide, and Jeff is an expert on Microsoft 365 subscriptions. The quick pace of technology means they’re always rolling out new features and waiting for customers to renew can be a real drag—for creators and consumers alike. But with people now automating everything from music to razors to poultry, a simple subscription ensures users will always get their mouse on the most current iteration. 

“Think of Netflix as an example,” Jeff explains. “If I were to buy a hard disk or a chip with all the shows on it, but it doesn’t update itself with anything, how exciting is that? People producing a new show would have to wait for viewers to upgrade their Netflix or buy a new TV.” 

“In the software world, we’ve long had this challenge—we’d build all these great new features we really like, but our customers were still using this thing from five years ago that they’d buy new only when they’d buy a new PC. We want to get the updates to everyone faster, and if we can help make that easy, we can give everyone a better experience and a better product.”

“There are a whole lot of paths to being successful. There are smart people everywhere and it takes a lot of people—and a lot of types of people across the board—to deliver products in tech.”

Since March 2020, discussions of secure, collaborative products and ‘work-from-home ergonomics’ have taken on new life as employees perch at kitchen counters, occupy dining room chairs and hunch over coffee tables. 

Though we may have had to keep an eye on our steps, many of us were undeniably lucky to be able to work remotely during a time when the world, in large measure, shut down. Technologies like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Google Meet kept us connecting, celebrating, and producing. 

MS Teams saw a huge uptick in users over the pandemic, and was one of the fastest growing apps, adding a whopping 95 million users in 2020. More than 500,000 organizations worldwide now use it as their default messaging platform, including over 183,000 educational institutions.

Though he may be working from home these days, for Jeff, connecting virtually is old hat. “At some level, that’s how my old world was. I spent two years where my manager and immediate team actually sat in Dublin, Ireland,” he recalls. “And Microsoft is a decent-sized campus. When I’m working with the commerce team or the payments team and they’re a 10-to-20-minute shuttle ride or walk away, you meet with them on Teams. So much of my work was done on Teams and via email already.”   

Microsoft has been thinking about the future of hybrid work for years. One of the projects Jeff worked on, now nearly a decade ago, was meeting technology and hybrid meetings, with the team considering such things as collaborative notetaking. “We didn’t end up solving the problem at the time, but we made a little headway,” he muses, “and the world moved on. But there’s certainly an interest in watching how things played out once everyone had to go virtual.”  

And in many ways, Jeff’s been in on the experiment, as his own family learned to operate remotely this past year—which included everything from the logistics of virtual orchestra to scrambling to find a Nintendo Switch to play Animal Crossing. Jeff lives in Seattle with his son, Andrew, who’s going into Grade 12, and daughter, Elizabeth, who will be entering Grade 10. His wife, Anna, a lawyer by training and a former JAG officer, is a romance writer. Though there was certainly some trial and error in the day-to-day, the pace slowed for everyone; a smaller stride meant more frequent video calls with Jeff’s Ottawa-based parents, his extended family in Alberta, and his sister, alumna Jensa Morris ’90, who’s now a doctor based in Connecticut. 

He’s also continued to keep active in his downtime, golfing throughout Seattle’s long season and still serious about running—he’s run 20 marathons to date, a passion which goes back to his days as a harrier at Ridley. 

Jeff came to the Lower School over Christmas in Grade 7, having started French immersion earlier that year and wanting a different kind of education. A conversation with family connection Reverend Hunt soon led the young whiz to Ridley—and, once there, Jeff never looked back. He spent the next seven years as a day student. In Lower School, he played cricket, soccer, squash, tennis, and hockey. When he transitioned to Upper School, now a student of Merritt South, he focused on playing hockey and competing both as a harrier and on the tennis courts. He was a Cadet sergeant, a House Prefect, and received both the TR Merritt Matriculation Gold Medal and the Governor General’s Medal. 

Jeff’s impressive skills in mathematics were known widely, so it was of little surprise that he sought a future career in engineering. “There are lots of domains in which you can solve problems, but I was strong in maths and sciences,” he remembers. “Engineering just felt like a place where there are always fun problems to solve and good tools for doing it.”

It was simply a question of where. Jeff was in Grade 12 and applying to Ontario programmes when his teacher, Brian Martin approached him and asked if he’d considered any American schools. He hadn’t, thinking those kinds of plans were years in the making. But it was a late decision which paid off; Jeff got in his applications just under the deadline and was accepted to the engineering programme at Princeton University. 

“It used to be fashionable to talk about how everyone should be fluent in coding—and the expectation of numeracy and comfort in data modelling might sound equally dated in 20 years. But right now, it feels like the easiest people to work with are the ones who can have a conversation about the data.”

What comes across as he talks about his work, however, is that it’s clearly about more than math alone (though he certainly spends his time deep in the numbers): Jeff is essentially a storyteller, contextualizing the data and using it as a tool to gain insight into what consumers are doing (or aren’t), how the business is working (or isn’t), and what’s going to be good for both. What impact are we having? Are we touching people at scale? How can we build the right thing? 

“That fluency is almost more valuable than code,” he agrees, “It used to be fashionable to talk about how everyone should be fluent in coding—and the expectation of numeracy and comfort in data modelling might sound equally dated in 20 years. But right now, it feels like the easiest people to work with are the ones who can have a conversation about the data.” 

And after the past year-and-a-half, the data has a lot to say. Today, Microsoft’s signature problem-solving efforts continue as a workforce contemplates its return to the office. How do workers use the chat function? How do things function when half the meeting’s attendees are remote? Is the chat channel more visible to those who are remote—and is it then ignored by those in the room? As we all inch closer to a new working model, mock-up solutions are popping up across the Microsoft campus. Their teams have been busy learning from what we’ve been doing these past months—and envisioning what a hybrid future might look like. 

“I think we’ll get to a place where we have more of a recognition of those who are remote,” Jeff predicts. “There were always people who worked remotely—we just tended to ignore them. Now that we’ve allbeen that remote person for the past year-and-a-half, there’s that much more awareness of how to make it work for everyone.”

“I have a lot of appreciation for the data scientists; the best ones are artists who understand the numbers and do a great job of storytelling and making sense of the world, making sense of the work we do.”

And, notably, these changes bring with them important conversations about diversity, accessibility, and opportunities to broaden the hiring pool. “While Redmond and Seattle are lovely places, we don’t need to move the whole world here,” Jeff points out practically, citing his organization’s recent hires who will be staying put. “There are smart people everywhere and tons of opportunity. In tech, it takes a lot of people—and a lot of types of people—to deliver products.”

Speaking with Jeff, you can’t help but be excited by what’s to come, knowing these technologies will only expand our reach across both office and globe. And though we’ve each had to pivot over the course of this pandemic, to park our cars and watch our work clothes hang in our closets like question marks—we are the lucky ones. There’s plenty of promise in the ‘new normal,’ status unknown, even as it’s still coming into focus.


This article was printed in the latest issue of Tiger magazine. Learn about our alumni, get community updates and find out where Ridley is heading next! Read more from the Fall 2021 issue.

10 Inspiring Alumnae to Celebrate

Driven, ambitious and passionate are a few words you may use to describe an inherently inspirational woman in your life. Today is International Women’s Day and we’d like to celebrate a few of Ridley’s alumnae who have made their mark on the world.

Georgina Black ’85

Georgina Black ’85: As the first female Chair of the Board of Governors at Ridley College, Georgina has paved the way for young women to succeed in both leadership and governance. In addition to her role at Ridley, she is a Partner at KPMG Canada and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women in 2016.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86: Michele-Elise founded the Indigenous festival, Celebration of Nations, which takes place every September. In addition, during the 18th annual Women in Business Awards this past November, Michele-Elise Burnett ’85 was recognized for her commitment to helping the arts thrive in Niagara; winning the Cultural Arts Award.

Sarah Eyton ’86: As Vice President of Fund Development at Special Olympics Canada, this alumna has dedicated her career to supporting those with intellectual disabilities in realizing their dreams of competing in sport. In addition, she serves Ridley College as a member of the Board of Governors and the Advancement Committee.

Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87: Passionate about social justice, this alumna was appointed the Honorary Consul for Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2016. In addition, she has served on a number of Boards, including Ridley College, Patrons of Contemporary Art in Mexico and MEXFAM. She was also a founding member of Camp Deen, which is a camp that empowers Muslim Canadians to be proud of their heritage.

Michele-Elise Burnett ’86 & Nadine Karachi-Estrada ’87

Wendy O’Brien ’88: This alumna started her own casting company in Los Angeles, Wendy O’Brien Casting, and has been the Casting Director for hit television shows such as: It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Sons of Anarchyand Prison Break.

Hilary Caters ’89: Hilary was once an entrepreneur and marketing agency owner, until she realized her path was leading her down a different direction. Now, she is a passionate life coach and motivational speaker. During the Niagara Leadership Summit for Women in October of 2018, Hilary spoke to aspiring leaders about taking control of ones’ life and the importance of seeking and uncovering both passion and purpose.

Jane Lewis ’90: This Canadian singer-songwriter has always been involved in the arts. While she began her career as an author and editor, she shifted towards music in 2009. Since then, she has honed her skills, released a number of CDs and launched both a solo career and her band, Gathering Sparks. She will be performing at our Toronto Branch event, Curating Connections, on April 2nd.

Jane Lewis ’90

Alison Loat ’94: This alumna co-founded Samara Canada, a charitable organization that works to improve political participation in Canada. In addition, she has published several notable books, is the Managing Director at FCLTGlobal, serves on both Ridley’s Board of Governors as well as Ai-Media and has been named one of WXN’s most influential women in Canada.

Jeanette Stock ’09: This alumna is paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape through Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Jeanette Stock ’09

Laura Court ’14: After a unanimous vote, former Ridley rower and current Brock Badger, Laura Court ’14 was named Brock University’s OUA Female Athlete of the Year—the first coxswain to receive this honour. With a number of gold medal wins behind her and a promising future ahead, it is no surprise that she was recognized for her grit, determination and skill.

 

TURNING ADVERSITY INTO OPPORTUNITY

How one Ridleian overcame persecution and earned a full university scholarship to support his ambition to transform our globe.

It was nightfall when sixteen-year-old Asmatullah (Asmat) arrived at the Vancouver border in summer of 2017. He had just undertaken a solo journey from California to reach the Canadian land crossing after learning that the United States would no longer have him as a student. Thousands of miles from his home in Afghanistan and unable to return to his family, Asmat made the bold decision to seek refugee status and hope for a better future in the ‘Great White North’.

The original plan to study in North America had begun as an exciting prospect for Asmat. As a uniquely remarkable student, he accepted a scholarship to a military academy in California for his Grade 10 year. However, when his funding and student visa were revoked, he found himself in limbo between a country where he was no longer welcomed and a home nation that would suspect him a conspirator.

“If I hadn’t come to Canada and I hadn’t crossed the border that night, I would have returned back to Afghanistan and who knows if I’d be alive now,” reflects Asmat on what might have happened if things hadn’t gone to plan. Soon after arriving to Canada, he was connected with social services and provided with housing in Ontario, but as a minor he struggled to fulfill his basic needs without a legal guardian; Once walking himself to a public high school in East York, Toronto where he unsuccessfully attempted to enroll.

Enter Cory Miller, Guidance and University Counsellor at Branksome Hall (an all-girls CAIS independent school), who upon learning of the displaced teen’s story felt compelled to act. “Asmat and I first met on a sunny day at the Toronto waterfront and I took him to a Blue Jays game,” Miller recalls about their first encounter. “From our initial conversations and [seeing] his academic records, it was clear that he was very keen to continue his education,” adds the woman who became Asmat’s legal guardian only weeks after setting eyes on him. “It was an opportunity to help someone who clearly has so much potential, it felt like a very easy decision to make. Helping a Muslim refugee in this day and age of growing xenophobia felt like my small gesture of social justice.”

Asmat and Cory meeting for the first time at a Toronto Blue Jays home game.

Partnering with Asmat and his parents back in Afghanistan, Cory swiftly reached out to her colleagues at fellow independent schools to see if anyone would be willing to welcome an additional boarder on short notice. Cory knew the school would need to be able to support Asmat’s talents and ambitions so one of her initial calls was to Julie Cameron, Director of Admissions at Ridley College who says she clearly recalls being profoundly moved by Asmat’s story because it harkened back to Ridley’s deep service-oriented mentality. “Asmat is an example of why we do what we do as educators,” Julie underscores. With the support of Headmaster Kidd, Asmat was soon accepted to Ridley College as a late addition to Dean’s House residence.

Prefect-led Pep Rally on Opening Day 2018

In less than a full academic year, Asmat began to soar. He enrolled in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme, learned his fifth language, became an active member of Cadet Corps leadership, went on a service trip to Malawi, joined clubs committed to human rights, took up rowing as well as Model U.N. and Debating. It’s no wonder then that his peers voted him in as Prefect for the 2018-19 academic year.

“Coming to Ridley…everything exceeded my expectations; from the diversity in the community to studying with such an amazing and smart cohort and from the volume of opportunities available to academic intensity at the school especially with the IB programme,” he said enthusiastically about his first year at Ridley. “I felt overwhelmed in the beginning, but with support that I got from the faculty, staff and my friends, I was able to take on every challenge, thrive and have fun.”

On a promising trajectory already and working with Ridley’s University and Guidance Counsellor, Michael Maki, post-secondary institutions began to take notice of Asmat’s undeniable potential. In mid-February 2019 one university in particular stepped up to make this new Canadian’s dreams come true. While on what he believed was a Huron University campus tour and interview with its President, Dr. Barry Craig, Asmat was surprised with acceptance and a full, four-year undergraduate scholarship—the largest in the school’s history.

Hear from Asmat about his experience at Ridley and excitement for Huron University.

Beaming even days following the news and in his consistently humble way, Asmat reports that he has decided to pursue a double-major, combining Leadership, Governance and Ethics with Economics. He also plans to study photography while obtaining a business certificate in from Harvard University. “I want to get into politics [and] I’m committed to transforming our globe because I believe in equity and equity of opportunity for everyone and currently that does not exist…it’s just going to open the door for much development in this world,” the soon-to-be Ridley graduate explains. He elaborates that his intended studies are all to support his vision of one day working with the United Nations as a part of the security council or on peace-keeping missions oversees. “I think Asmat definitely has the makings of a statesman, he cares about mankind and improving circumstances for all of humanity. He has the intellectual and social skills to plan strategically, negotiate policy, and hopefully peace in the Middle East. He articulates that aspiration regularly,” Cory reinforces.

“What’s most inspiring about Asmat is not just his list of accomplishments and achievements, but also his positive outlook on life in spite of the challenges he has faced on his journey,” says Headmaster Ed Kidd, adding, “He should be an example of resilience and perseverance to us all.  As a community we are so proud of him and I am confident he will continue to flourish (and inspire others to flourish) at Huron.”

Headmaster Kidd and Julie Cameron welcoming Asmat to Ridley College.

Asmat isn’t shy in expressing his gratitude to Ridley College, Huron University (and of course, Cory) for providing him with educational opportunities he wouldn’t otherwise had. “For me Ridley is far more than just a place where I go to school. Ridley is an experience. Apart from the academic skills and knowledge that I have acquired at Ridley, my experience at Ridley has helped me grow spiritually and find my real self in many different ways. Ridley has taught me how to handle my emotions and fight till the end, until I succeed.”

“If you are looking for somewhere to flourish and grow Ridley is the right place for you.” – Asmat ’19

David K. Carter ’88 Elected 20th Chair of the Board of Governors

The attributes of a great leader are often listed as integrity, influence, commitment, innovative thinking and clear communication. An effective leader inspires action, cultivates relationships and has a passion for a cause that is bigger than themselves. For Dave Carter ’88, that cause is Ridley College and for this loyal alumnus, all of these qualities (and more) ring true. Having contributed to several facets of Governance and proven his profound care for our school over several decades, Ridley College is honoured to welcome David Carter as the Chair of the Board of Governors, made official at the Annual General Meeting on September 21, 2018.

Dave’s relationship with our beloved school began in 1981 when he arrived to Lower School as a Grade 7 boarder from Oakville, Ontario. He admits that his first term at the school was challenging, but he overcame homesickness and made the most of his Ridley experience by forging friendships and becoming entrenched in a variety of activities. Over seven years, these included rowing, theatre, choir, harriers, working on Acta Ridleiana, Cadet Drill Team, and serving as a school Prefect in his senior year.

“[My parents] wanted me to have more peers around me, and it really did turn out to be some blind wisdom,” Dave says, reflecting back on his lasting connections and his seven years as a domestic boarder. For him, Ridley was the beginning of great things to come.

An accomplished business leader, Dave earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Western University and later completed his CA and CPA designations. According to him, it was the work ethic and self-discipline he gained from rowing, Cadets and his Prefectship that have propelled him in his career. After university, he was hired by Deloitte Canada to do his articling and ended up as a forensic investigator, where he worked nearly 10 years in both Toronto and Grand Cayman helping to litigate asset recoveries inside one of the largest global cases of bank fraud in history.

Returning to Canada, Dave pivoted into Business Process Innovation in healthcare, before being bitten by the entrepreneurial bug. He has since exercised proficiency in finance, strategic communications, health care, and technology by partnering in and managing different ventures across multiple sectors.

Despite his varied interests, Dave has always made time to give back to Ridley. Terar Dum Prosim resonates for him and is what inspired him to get involved with Ridley’s Board Committees in his early thirties. First joining in 2000, and eventually chairing, the Finance Audit and HR Committee, Dave was formally elected a Governor in 2009. He proceeded to volunteer additional time to Chair the Monarch Gala, and as part of the small Headmaster search team in 2011. Having been nominated as Board Chair-elect, he became Vice Chair in 2017.

“My work with the board has been continually stimulating…but the fundamental reason is to serve. Our motto couldn’t really be more appropriate in my thinking. If you have that first, chances are that the other dividends you require in life will come.”              – Dave Carter ’88

For the next four years, Dave will lead our school as the 20th Chair of the Board of Governors, the office held by Georgina Black ’85 since 2014. When approached to consider this significant position, Dave recalls, “I was humbled. I think Georgina struck a path and was transformational for many things at Ridley…and she has served honourably.” As he weighed the decision, Dave reflected on how he felt he could contribute to the school’s strategic vision, mission and succession planning. He turned to his wife Hilary, who he notes has always supported his commitment to the school—both she, and Dave’s children Angus and Clare, know the degree to which he values his relationship with Ridley. With their support, Dave could proudly accept this new role and responsibility.

In addition to bringing expertise and enthusiasm, Dave is focused on assisting school leadership to secure Ridley’s prosperity, while maintaining the importance of positive education, flourishing, and student-centeredness.

“I think one of the strengths of Ridley’s recent past has been the supportive and trusting relationship between the Head and the Chair – there is a lot of literature suggesting that this parternship is a key indicator of school strength and stability.  I have been blessed to work closely with two excellent past Chairs, and now look forward to sustaining this strength under Dave’s leadership.  He has proven himself a devoted servant to Ridley and a wise counselor to me and the management team.” – Headmaster, Ed Kidd

About Headmaster Ed Kidd, Dave notes, “being part of the search for this dynamic Headmaster was a source of pride for me, and fulfilled the Board’s most important mandate—the securing and sustenance of a Headmaster to lead the school. I’ve been proud to watch his leadership evolve and the energy and commitment he brings. The Board and I have the utmost confidence in Headmaster Kidd to continue steering Ridley through the next era.”

As he takes his seat as the leader of our community, Dave states that what he’s most energized about contributing to is solidifying Ridley’s strong position: “I want to make sure that the hard work of the board is relevant in helping the school deliver against the solid path we are on. It is a team effort, and there is no one individual who can accomplish this alone,” he says, “I’m most looking forward to seeing the school enter an exciting next chapter.”

TOP 10 Pieces of Advice for Graduates

As the Class of 2018 prepares to walk across the stage and receive their diplomas, we compiled 10 pieces of advice from young alumni, that will help our graduates as they begin the next chapter of their lives.

1. Find Your Passion
“Great ideas come from great passion. When you do what you love, you will never look back. The positive light from doing what you love will unknowingly motivate others to do the same!” – Marina Radovanovic ’14

2. Set Goals
“Set goals and then reset them regularly. Stand behind your ideas. Even if the first ones don’t take, keep an entrepreneurial spirit alive. Think outside the box. Sometimes the best ideas are the ones that break the mold.” – Colt Iggulden ’03

3. Believe in Yourself
“One of the biggest things that current and future Ridleians should remember is to never stop believing that they can do great things. Anybody can do anything that they set their minds to. No matter how much adversity one must face to achieve greatness, it is important to never lose sight of what you want and to never give up. If there is something you want, go for it and don’t hold back.”
Luc Brodeur ’14

4. Seek Mentorship
“Don’t be afraid to ask for help and be patient. If I had never asked my coach what my next steps were, I wouldn’t have been able to take them. Then I had to be patient and wait for the right time. It’s all about the process, enjoy it. If you have a passion for something, don’t be afraid to pursue it.” – Laura Court ’14

5. Strive for More
“Follow your curiosity and always look for ways to improve. This may require further education and certification, volunteering with people different than you, or taking on a side-gig, but compounding curiosity will open you up to opportunities you may have never thought of.” – Radley Mackenzie ’03

6. Embrace Change
“You can’t rest on what you have done before, what you did last month, or five years ago. You really have to every day try and create something new that is going to help you out down the road.” – Thomas ‘Tawgs’ Salter ’94

7. Be Fearless
“If you believe in your idea, get out there and make it happen. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out, you learn an absolute ton, and you nail it the next time. So many decisions are driven by the fear of failure – don’t let yourself fall into that trap and keep taking big risks!” – Jillian Evans ‘06

8. Take Risks
“Challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone. Test out different subjects and hold on to what does not let your mind rest.” – Marc Seitz ’08

9. Be a Part the Bigger Picture
“Remember what it means to be a positive part of a community. Don’t get caught up trying to clamor to the top. Build strong supportive relationships with your peers and your competitors, think globally, act locally.” – Jordan Fowler ’05

10. Be Patient
“Take your time in figuring out what you want to do. There is a lot of pressure to pick something and stick with it, but I think careers and passions grow and evolve just as we do.” – Megan Breukelman ’11

Oh and… “Thank your parents. Seriously.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Many Ridley College alumni have gone on to enjoy successful careers in their respective fields. The Ridley College MentORship Programme offers these Old Ridleians an opportunity to contribute to the Ridley mission by advising younger alumni who have graduated within the last ten years. If you are interested in becoming a mentor or would like to take advantage of this programme as a mentee, visit here.

TransfORming Our Globe – Krystal Chong ’02

“Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls.” –Joseph Campbell

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Krystal Chong ’02, who has used her own experiences to propel her into success as a mental wellness entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker. Read how she risked everything in search of her calling and found it in New York City.

Krystal calls her time at Ridley “priceless,” and says that her Ridley education was the best gift her parents ever gave her. From 2000–2002, Krystal embraced all that Ridley had to offer; filling her days with swim practice, competing on the tennis courts, volunteering with Alzheimer’s patients and learning valuable skills that would accompany her on her career path. Like many Ridleians before her, one of the most important lessons Krystal learned while at Ridley was time management. “[Ridley] really taught me the value of maximizing a day and it made me realize how much you can accomplish if you manage your time well and push yourself,” shared Krystal. Above all of these timeless life lessons, Krystal is thankful to the faculty of Ridley for instilling in her a love of learning.

 “The teachers at Ridley were just so spectacular, I had never experienced anything like that until and since then. They single handedly taught me to enjoy learning, and that I was actually good at it, as long as I put the effort into it. They made me enjoy the process of becoming better and better and seeing myself progress as a result of what I put in, gave me the confidence that there was no limit for myself but myself.” – Krystal Chong ’02

After graduating Ridley, Krystal studied Psychology and Business at McGill University in Montreal, before returning to Jamaica. She strongly believed that in order to be happy in life, she needed to love her career and have a meaningful connection to the work she was doing. She decided to become a part of the family business and work alongside her loved ones. She spent many years working for Honey Bun Ltd. – the fastest growing wholesale bakery in Jamaica – eventually working her way up to the Chief Marketing Officer position. Krystal recalls, “one of my proudest contributions to date is to have played an integral part in building the company’s brand and taking the company public.” However, after eight years with the company, she felt a deep desire to find her true purpose in life. The realization that she needed to move in a different direction, but didn’t know what direction that was, intensified her pre-existing struggles with anxiety and depression. Desperate for a change yet tasked with a difficult decision to take a risk or stay within her comfort zone, Krystal found herself at a pivotal moment.

“In the end there was one thing I knew for sure. I could live with trying and failing, but I could not live with never knowing what could have been.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal resigned from her position at Honey Bun Ltd. and made the leap in moving to New York City on a journey to discover what her life’s purpose was and what would truly make her happy. Luckily for Krystal, this story has a happy ending. The lessons she learned on that journey helped Krystal conquer her anxiety and depression, leading her to a moment of clarity. Krystal is now an author, speaker and entrepreneur, dedicated to helping others live a flourishing life.

Krystal wrote the highly-acclaimed book, “What The Hell Am I Supposed To Do With My Life?! – A fun and friendly guide to finding your magic, your purpose and yo’ self”. This book sets out to help others discover meaning and connection in their lives, regardless of what hurdles may stand in their way.

“To hear from readers all over the world with wonderful stories about how the book is changing their lives, to hear about them becoming empowered to overcome their challenges and live the lives they want for themselves, to hear that for the first time in a long time they feel ‘hope’ and that has moved them to change, has been my ABSOLUTE GREATEST joy in life.” – Krystal Chong ’02

Krystal’s profession is her passion, so she is constantly working towards her next big goals and continuing to better herself. With another book on the horizon and a new company, Anxiety Schmanxiety, which provides a comprehensive, organic, and enjoyable approach to conquering anxiety and improving mental wellness, Krystal is truly thriving.

As someone whose job is to instill confidence in those around her and motivate individuals to chase their dreams, Krystal shares some words of wisdom with Ridleians who are on their own journey to self-discovery:

“You are on a wonderful, wonderful journey and sometimes that journey may not feel so wonderful, but that’s the universe speaking to you. Try to understand what it’s telling you and learn and grow from any adversity. Always remember, you have the power, at all times, to determine how your life will end up. Move away from the things that bring your down and towards the things that make you light up, the things that feel right deep down inside. You have a divine compass within you which is the most powerful thing you possess. Learn to listen to that compass and let it guide you, and you’ll find everything you seek, and so much more.

And I’ll leave with this: close your eyes and imagine the best possible version of yourself. That is who you really are. Let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe that.” – Krystal Chong ’02


 TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to kory_lippert@ridleycollege.com.

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Jeanette Stock ’09

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jeanette Stock ’09, who is not only taking the tech industry by storm but also paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape.

Jeanette grew up hearing stories from family members who attended the school before her and in 2006, she was delighted to learn the news that she too would become a Tiger.

The Ridley lifestyle was the perfect fit for Jeanette, who didn’t have to choose between music or biology, sports or activities – she could do it all. She was able to explore her many interests, strengthen her academic proficiency and learn invaluable skills (beyond the classroom) that would carry over to her post-secondary career.

  

“My time at Ridley taught me not to take myself so seriously (something I still struggle to do). Having friends who taught me to see fun in almost everything (I’m looking at you, Charlotte Macdonald) helps keep me from working too hard, or becoming boring (because really, there’s no worse fate).”                                    – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette gained skills to help her stay motivated and driven and was taught the power of community, leaving Ridley with strong foundation upon which she could build her career.

Jeanette continued her education at Queen’s University, studying Life Sciences and graduating with a degree in English Literature. She spent a semester abroad, studying Chinese history and global development in Shanghai. Beyond her academic career, Jeanette volunteered as an Advanced Medical First Responder and assisted in the launch of a health education programme in Kenya over the course of two summers. Upon graduating – with a distinguished resumé at hand – Jeanette began to work for Jack.org; a charity that was started after the loss of a fellow graduate.

Her path was winding, yet Jeanette’s vast experiences were able to help her discover what she sought in a career. When she was confident in the direction she wanted to move in, Jeanette tapped into Ridley’s vast network of alumni and reconnected with Old Ridleians, such as Anna Mackenzie ’07. Jeanette was able to gather invaluable advice, that helped her navigate her way into the tech industry and uncover where she wanted to be within an organization. She leaned on the guidance of Venture for Canada to help kick-start her career and now works for Highline BETA as a New Venture Associate.

Although her repertoire is already filled with evidence of determination and talent, perhaps Jeanette’s biggest achievement has been Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Since its launch, Venture Out has hosted nearly 1,000 individuals during events held at major companies such as: Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. On the horizon is the second conference, happening March 15th-16th at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

“We have speakers coming from coast to coast, and sponsors and partners like Lyft, Airbnb, Shopify, Intelex, Hubba, and RBC will be hosting conversations about LGBTQ+ inclusion at their companies and beyond. It’s not just a lot of fun (though it is that) – it’s also a pretty unique experience to learn about LGBTQA+ experiences in tech and celebrate the community’s contributions to the companies and technologies we interact with every day.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette is shaping the landscape of the tech industry; making it a more diverse and inclusive place. As she moves forward, she hopes to have an impact on the future of technology in Canada, through Venture Out and Female Funders (a learning platform and community that empowers women to invest in start-ups). She is also striving to become a tech leader herself.

As she reflects on her time at Ridley and the path that has led her to where she is today, Jeanette has two pieces of advice for Ridleians who are about to embark on their own professional journeys.

1. Reach out to interesting people. Connecting with individuals who have established varying careers can help you discover the best path.

 “It wasn’t until I stopped thinking about what I wanted to be and started thinking about what I wanted to do every day, that I ended up on the path I’m on now.

Taking some strangers for coffee and learning about the ups and downs of their roles would’ve gotten me there faster, and saved me a great deal of soul-searching.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

2. Share your gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped you reach your potential.

“Thank your parents. Seriously.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

 

 

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Marina Radovanovic ’14

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Marina Radovanovic ’14, who is embarking on an entrepreneurial endeavour to facilitate philanthropic efforts of others. Her company, HeroHub – which will change the way we connect with charities – was one of three finalists given the chance to pitch to Bruce Croxon ’79 and other successful entrepreneurs during Brock University’s Monster Pitch.

During her illustrious time at Ridley, which spanned from 2011 to 2014, Marina perfected the balance between her academic career and her co-curricular one. While maintaining academic proficiency, she simultaneously became a driving force behind the First Girls hockey team, was heavily involved in Mandeville House and was Captain of the First Girls soccer team. While she bounced from one passion to another, she could often be found living out our school’s motto, Terar Dum Prosim, which she continues to embody today. “Ridley is what made me fall in love with giving back and committing my free time to community service work,” shares Marina.

Marina was introduced to the world of business during her first year at Ridley and soon discovered that the industry held limitless possibilities.  She was enthralled in her classes, and thanks to experiential assignments, took a keen interest in the area of entrepreneurship.

“Mr. [Andrew] McNiven gave me the drive to do my best. His implementation of ‘real-life’ business projects in class formed my dream of being an entrepreneur in the future.”                           – Marina Radovanovic ’14

Marina’s entrepreneurial spirit and innate desire to give back persisted throughout her Ridley years. After graduating in 2014 and settling into life at Brock University, she chose to spend her free time improving the lives of others. She and her future business partner began scouring the web in search of charitable events in the area but had a difficult time turning up results. That is when HeroHub was born.

HeroHub will allow individuals to search for events, explore volunteer opportunities and discover what types of donations an organization will accept. On the other side, charities will be able to create a profile and in turn, gain support. Although they are still in the midst of development, Marina and her partner have taken every opportunity to research, explore and promote their new-found business.

Most recently, Marina participated in Monster Pitch; a competition at Brock University that allows young entrepreneurs to pitch their business idea to successful professionals. HeroHub was one of only three finalists to present on stage. Among the judges was Bruce Croxon ’79, Ridley alumnus well-known for his role on Dragon’s Den. Marina reflects, “to see an Old Ridleian and three other renowned judges fighting for the microphone to provide feedback for your business, there are no words to explain the jolt of adrenaline shivering through your body.” The competition offered Marina and her partner the opportunity to effectively promote their new venture while gaining valuable insight into what makes a business successful.

 

If her drive to change the world wasn’t enough, Marina has made it her goal to empower women in the field of business. She hopes her story will inspire young women to pursue their goals, regardless of what obstacles may stand in their way.

As a recent graduate and a young entrepreneur, Marina leaves her fellow Ridleians with this advice:

“Great ideas come from great passion. When you do what you love, you will never look back. The positive light from doing what you love will unknowingly motivate others to do the same!” – Marina Radovanovic ’14


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

The Gift of a Ridley Education

The story of Ben Johnson ’17 is that of a young man whose challenges seemed insurmountable – until the kindness of a stranger and the gift of a Ridley College education changed the course of his life.

Ben always enjoyed a love of learning and possessed an innate mastery of science, but prior to Ridley, he did not have a nurturing community that would allow him to excel. After years of struggling to overcome challenges, Ben came to a critical juncture in his Grade 11 year, when he was moved to an emergency shelter.

At the shelter, he found it difficult to focus on his studies while dealing with the challenging circumstances of his personal life. In spite of the hardships he was faced with, he recognized he had to persevere and pursue his dreams. With the caring guidance of his godmother, Ben’s grades skyrocketed. Encouraged by this scholastic success, he began to explore the possibilities available to him after high school.

Ben’s drive and determination did not go unnoticed. Julia Bertollo, former Director of Summer Programmes, invited Ben to attend Ridley’s Summer Academy – which included his tuition and board. While studying during the summer, he learned more than just Grade 12 chemistry. He discovered the importance of independent living. At the same time, he took advantage of Ridley’s music department and practiced his co-curricular skills.

While Ben’s talents flourished that summer, an anonymous donor took notice and decided to fund Ben’s final year of high school at Ridley. This generous gift allowed him to attend a school where he could continue to thrive, with the anticipation of continuing to university.

While in Grade 12 at Ridley, Ben embraced the vast opportunities given to him. He became an editor for the TigerPost, Ridley’s student-run publication and was a valued member of the film club, writing the score and recording music for a student film. He immersed himself in the arts, which enabled him to experience the positive influence creativity has on one’s academic achievements.

Ben viewed his academic success as a personal responsibility and took his education very seriously. “As someone who has the desire to make the most out of an education, Ridley was an exceptional place for me to study,” says Ben. Although he was at Ridley for only one year, he ensured that he absorbed as much experiential and academic knowledge as he possibly could. He loved that he was able to incorporate his personal interests into all his classes and personalize his education.

“My Ridley experience was very well-balanced, proving to be encouraging, both on a personal and academic level. My classes were all intriguing, as they expanded on the material in a way that allowed me to discover the various areas of what I personally liked about the subject at hand. My classes, in particular, were mainly in the sciences, however, I frequently took opportunities to bridge together different disciplines in a way that was of my personal interest. I also appreciated the challenges: the workload was demanding, but it was only for the benefit of my education, as it fostered important time management skills and efficient study habits that I know will be necessary for lifelong success.” – Ben Johnson ’17

Ben was the recipient of three scholarships by the time he graduated Ridley. The first was the Brock Niagara Principal’s Scholarship, which he was awarded alongside fellow Old Ridleian, David Biggar ’17. This award is presented to students in the area that demonstrate exceptional academic results as well as a dedication to community service. Not long after, Ben was awarded Ridley’s Robert J. Malyk Prize for Biology. “I was able to meet Bob in person and thank him; he generously funds this annual scholarship to those who share his passion of Life Sciences and hold significant potential in their scientific careers,” says Ben. Most recently, he was the recipient of the PenFinancial Scholarship after he submitted a moving video that expresses the obstacles he’s overcome and the goals he hopes to reach.

This past September, Ben began his post-secondary journey at Brock University in Neuroscience, with a focus on Neurocomputing. While he has only just begun his programme, he is setting his sights on the future. “Main career pathways are research or medicine. Both interest me, however, I am currently aiming for medical school following my undergraduate programme,” declares Ben.

“[At Ridley] I had the opportunity to experience a wider scope of an education. I find this translates effectively to the university environment, as not only am I already engaging in clubs and activities on campus, but a broader skill set makes me able to make deeper connections with the new people I meet.” – Ben Johnson ’17

As a student who embraced all that Ridley had to offer and didn’t take this opportunity for granted, Ben says this: “My advice is to embrace your opportunities. You are in a position that can bring you to great success if you put in the effort. There are others in this world who do not have the same opportunities, so always be thankful. The main way to show appreciation of your opportunities is to make the most out of them, which means putting in blood, sweat and tears. But at the same time, don’t forget to take a moment and enjoy the blessings that you have, for it will help you stay motivated.”

It is hoped that Ben’s story is an inspiration, demonstrating how acts of kindness can powerfully transform the lives of talented youth.

Donate now to enable more bright minds to unlock their potential at Ridley.