Economics and finance students learn first-hand from prominent industry leaders | Gordon S. Lang School of Business and Economics

Economics and finance students learn first-hand from prominent industry leaders

Posted on Tuesday, May 8th, 2018

Guest lecture

U of G economics and finance students go beyond the textbooks each semester, learning from the first-hand experiences of prominent financial and investment leaders.

Economics professor Francis Tapon has always stressed the importance of engaging with industry leaders. In an effort to connect student learning with real-world concepts, his ECON3660 and 6820 classes benefit from a “who’s who” of guest speakers of the finance industry throughout the semester.

This semester, students connected with:

  • Tony Arrell, Chairman of Burgundy Asset Management and founder of the Arrell Food Institute
  • Dan Meharchand of Skyline Wealth Management
  • John Ewing, Co-founder of Ewing-Morriss Investment Partners
  • Tony Griffiths, lead director of Fairfax Financial
  • Frank Hasenfratz, Founder and Chairman of Linamar
  • Gary Stewart, VP Wealth Management CIBC-Wood Gundy

 “It’s important to bring these guest speakers into the classroom, and I do it for two main reasons,” says Professor Tapon. “First, it gives them a point of view that comes directly from those who are successful in the industry. Second, it gives them the opportunity to explore and network within it. There are many instances in the past where these speakers have hired our students.”

And it’s not just within the classroom that students hear from and network with industry. Each year since 2009, Professor Tapon takes up to 10 students to Omaha for the Berkshire Hathaway stockholders meeting. At the meeting, students have the chance to meet and network with exceptional individuals and business leaders, including one of the world’s most successful investors, Warren Buffet.

“I’ve done this for almost 10 years now, and it’s definitely changed a few lives,” says Francis Tapon. “It’s even changed my own life, and that of my business partner Brenna Casserly.”

Casserly, a former student of Professor Tapon, was in Omaha when they first conceived the idea for their company, Emperor Investments, a robo-advisor they co-founded. Brenna is the CEO of Emperor. Francis is the Chief Investment Officer.

With a team of students and graduates, Emperor Investments has developed a unique investment model that focuses on building automated personalized equity portfolios for small investors. They now operate on campus out of Blackwood Hall with 12 employees, 10 of whom are U of G graduates. Emperor Investments has also received funding and mentorship from the College’s Centre for Business and Student Enterprise (CBaSE) incubator program.

“We owe a lot to the University of Guelph, and the students and faculty here,” says Professor Tapon. “We’re constantly collaborating with contacts across campus, such as working with faculty and students from computer science and engineering.”

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