IMI Awards 2021

On February 11, 2022, IMI held its sixth annual IMI Awards reception via Zoom, where we celebrated our 2021 award recipients.

This was the first year that IMI opened new award categories for current students as well as IMI alumni, and we proudly celebrate them all together here:

IMI Faculty Award

This faculty member will have significantly enhanced the overall support, learning and/or engagement of students and/or faculty within the Institute for Management & Innovation. This may be at an undergraduate or graduate level.

2021 Recipient: Gerhard Trippen

Gerhard Trippen | 2021 IMI Faculty Award

Primary nomination:

Gerhard Trippen is an Associate Professor, Teaching Stream in Quantitative Methods and Operations at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM), with a cross-appointment to the Operations Management and Statistics area at the Rotman School of Management.  He teaches both graduate and undergraduate students and also delivers executive development programs for IMIx.  Gerhard is well-liked and very well respected by his students and his peers.  Often working quietly behind the scenes, he has made significant contributions to his students, to other members of faculty, and to IMI notwithstanding his heavy teaching load.  Gerhard is very deserving of the IMI Faculty Award for 2021.

Since inception, Gerhard has been actively involved in the IMI Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Case Competition, now one of IMI’s flagship annual events.  He delivers workshops to the student competitors, serves as a member of the Competition’s Organizing Committee, and is the de facto Chief Technology Officer (CTO) for the competition.  In this CTO capacity Gerhard has been the primary coordinator for all technology-related issues associated with the competition.  A considerable amount of his time has been taken coordinating with the university’s Information and Instructional Technology Group as well as with the technology team at Scotiabank, which provides the extremely large data sets that are used in the competition.  He has played a key role in obtaining an expanded allocation of computational and other resources for the competition from the University of Toronto.  These additional resources have significantly enhanced the learning experience for the many graduate and undergraduate student competitors from across all three University of Toronto campuses.

Gerhard has a unique and valuable skill set.  He is always willing to help and a pleasure to work with.  Thank you, Gerhard. You have done a wonderful job for the Institute for Management & Innovation, for our students, and for the University of Toronto.  You are to be commended.

IMI Research Award

This faculty member will have been recognized for a significant research/scholarly contribution to their discipline. This contribution could be but is not limited to an original published work or key research contributions deemed innovative in nature.

2021 Recipient: Ningyuan Chen

Ningyuan Chen | 2021 IMI Research Award

Primary nomination:

Ningyuan’s research productivity and pipeline were particularly impressive last year and showed clear evidence of international impact. He published one paper in Management Science and one paper in Operations Research, the top-2 journals in the field of operations research and operations management. He also published one paper in the Annals of Statistics, one of the top four journals in statistics. Furthermore, last year he was awarded a 5-year NSERC grant (2020-2025) which is impressive for a junior faculty member.

Ningyuan also supervised a considerable number of undergrad, masters, and PhD students. These included supervising a PhD student at HKUST (Ningyuan was formerly an Assistant Professor at HKUST), who has graduated and will join CUHK Shenzhen as an assistant professor, and co-supervised an undergraduate student from Tsinghua University who will be joining the PhD position in the Statistics department at Harvard.

Ningyuan is recognized for his reliable and cheerful service to IMI as well as to Rotman. His participation in interviewing MBiotech and MMA (Rotman) applicants, faculty retreats, as well as support to the BIGDataAIHUB annual case competition are very much appreciated. His external service included reviewing for major journals and received the Management Science Meritorious Service Award. This year, Ningyuan designed and taught a PhD course at Rotman, a data analytics and decision making course in the MBiotech, and a course on Data Analytics for Management in the Department of Management (co-taught with Otto Yung).

IMI Staff Award

This staff member will have significantly enhanced the overall support, learning and/or engagement of students, staff and/or faculty within the Institute for Management & Innovation.

2021 Recipients: Maria Andrade (MMPA) & Claire Westgate (MScSM)

Maria Andrade & Claire Westgate | 2021 IMI Staff Award

Primary nomination for Maria:

Maria Andrade is the backbone of the MMPA. Through the last year, we have navigated through challenge after challenge as we move to a digitized environment due to the pandemic. Maria was central in all of this. Her professional and highly competency approach through what might have been a more stressful time was very much appreciated as she led the staff forward. Through this period, and under Maria's leadership, we not only digitized things but we digitalized our approach to how the MMPA operates - achieving significant efficiencies. Our admissions process is now completely online and we have migrated our employer co-op evaluations to a digital environment as well. One the students and faculty side of things, Maria seamlessly reinvented and implemented our course timetable to accommodate over 200 students and all of our faculty (including accommodating international students. I do not know what we would do without Maria. She is supremely competent and is a consummate professional. There are no words that can express the contributions she makes to the MMPA, IMI and the university.

Primary nomination for Claire:

Dear Members of the Adjudicating Committee,

It is with great confidence that I would like to nominate my colleague and friend, Claire Westgate for the IMI Staff Excellence Award. I have been lucky to have worked alongside Claire since the start of my career at UTM and from early on, she unknowingly became a mentor- a perfect example of what a dedicated and genuinely passionate student services employee should be. After seeing her in various roles over the years, I believe Claire is genuinely deserving of this role.

In February 2021, I was hired as a Placement & Employer Relations Manager for a brand-new Master’s program which launched in September 2020. Because of the delay in hiring, Claire voluntarily stepped-in to support the students for 5 months until I came on board. Going above and beyond, and in addition to all the work she was doing to support her own program, Claire ensured that the students of this program received all the support they needed including in professional development, workshops and one on one meetings with students. Not only that, Claire continued to support me through countless meetings and emails once I was hired to help me transition into my new role and make sure I was comfortable and confident in my new role. Though Claire was not the first Placement & Employer Relations Manager at IMI, it is safe to say that she has helped all the programs by sharing ideas, best practices, materials and information. Each program at IMI has benefited from her work and has improved their services to students because of her generosity of information and collaborative spirit. Claire is also not one for credit and takes a role in supporting others out of sheer enthusiasm in helping her colleagues and the student population as a whole. As of March 31st, 2021, our program is all set and our students are all expected to securing a placement- this would absolutely not been possible without Claire’s support and expertise. She has been a solid rock of support in so many was to not only me, but all of us at IMI, both staff and students.

Over the last year, after our Director of Graduate Programs, Donna Heslin left for an external employment opportunity there was a small leadership vacuum for our Placement & Employer Relations Manager team. Claire was Claire, and immediately stepped-up to ensure we moved along as a team. She took initiative to organize and facilitate meetings, created and disseminated complex resources on behalf of IMI with regards to COVID-19 and placements. She ensured that each program was aware all the funding and COVID resources which were available and even made notes about what was required. This took extensive addition research and effort. Furthermore, at the same time she saw the opportunity to create resources to assist our employer partners to onboard a student for remote work which she of course, shared with all the Masters programs. These resources were very timely and further enhanced our reputation with the industry partners for all IMI programs.

Claire is a dream employee, co-worker and student advisor. In all the years of my career, I have yet to meet someone so passionate, capable and helpful. I absolutely can’t think of anyone more fitting for this award than our Claire and ANYBODY at IMI you ask will no doubt say the same.

IMI Team Collaboration Award

This team of two or more members can include any balance of faculty and staff (up to four (4) members). They will have collaboratively introduced and implemented a new program, product, or initiative that has significantly enhanced the overall support, learning and/or engagement of students, staff and/or faculty within the Institute for Management & Innovation.

2021 Recipients: Bianca Gaspini & Wesley Mack (MMPA)

Bianca Gaspini & Wesley Mack | 2021 IMI Team Collaboration Award

Primary nomination:

As Director of the MMPA program, I am writing to nominate Bianca Gaspini and Wesley Mack (the MMPA Recruitment Team), for the IMI Team Collaboration Award. As we all move into a world increasingly dominated by digitalization and technology, I am truly thankful for our amazing MMPA staff that are helping to lead the way. The MMPA Recruitment Team is responsible for attracting the best students to study in the MMPA program at the University of Toronto. There are many competitor programs and competition for the best students is significant. Our success is largely predicated upon attracting top students. During the past year, we have been faced with many added challenges, including mandated social distancing and other restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Bianca and Wesley happily stepped up to the plate to navigate these new waters. The have completely transformed the way we recruit students in the following ways:

  1. They have worked with other staff members (especially Nadine Mcharafie) to digitize our applications process by moving everything into a cloud environment. This means that all documents are now accessible to staff and faculty involved in the recruiting and admissions process. This was an incredible accomplishment, resulting in a streamlining of the entire work flow and achieving significant time savings. In addition, this accomplishment allowed our staff and faculty to maintain social distancing requirements during the pandemic and eliminated the need to handle paper files - critical for us all as we moved to a work from home environment.
  2. Given that recruiting has moved to 100% online, they have developed a compelling presence online especially using social media (including Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn). This included designing and creating videos, showcasing our students and alumni. They successfully encouraged many of our excellent students and alumni to be part of the online recruiting campaigns and ZOOM meetings. This helped our existing students to develop new skills and also provided opportunities for incoming students to link with MMPA alumni. These initiatives have resulted in increased applications. Applications for our 12-month stream were up 68% and for the 24/27-month stream up 80%.
  3. The diversity of our incoming classes has also increased. The incoming class for the 24/27-month stream is comprised of approximately 30% science and engineering students. In addition, we are hoping to reach our goal of 50% domestic and 50% international students – thus providing an increasingly rich learning environment for all.

IMI Alumni Award

The IMI Alumni Award recognizes and celebrates the professional achievements made by IMI graduates. The panel will be looking for an alumna/alumnus who may have made a significant contribution to their field, acted as a prominent voice within their discipline, and/or demonstrated their commitment to making the world a better place through innovative ideas and solutions. They may also be a recent graduate with outstanding achievements in a short time who have shown themselves to be a trailblazer in their chosen field.


  • The nominated alumna/alumnus must have graduated at least two (2) years prior to the nomination.
  • The nomination should be for achievements related to their field of study at IMI.
  • Alumni are not eligible to nominate themselves for the award.

2021 Recipients: David Harary (MScSM Class of 2017) & Shane Saltzman (MMPA Class of 2000)

David Harary & Shane Saltzman | 2021 IMI Alumni Award

Primary nomination for David:

In four short years, David Harary’s (MScSM ’17) list of accomplishments and experiences is astounding. He has been named as a Top 30 Under 30 Leader in Sustainability by GreenBiz and Corporate Knights Magazine. David has built his career around space-based remote sensing programs at NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Department of Defense. In 2020 he completed a year long fellowship with the Climate and Security Advisory Group, which is comprised of over 200 national security experts from the U.S. defense and climate science communities. He currently serves under the Directorate of Space Programs in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics at the Pentagon.

He constantly demonstrates his passion for bringing attention to the correlation between sustainability, scarcity of resources and resulting conflict and war. David’s research and writing is frequently published in top scientific journals. He also created and runs the Center for Development and Strategy, a policy think tank focused on development, sustainability and human rights in D.C.

This short summary cannot convey all of the incredible work he is doing, however I hope I have shown that David has directly applied his learning from the MScSM program and has shown an unbelievable commitment to making the world a better place in a very real way. I believe that David’s passionate work exemplifies everything we want to celebrate in our Alumni at IMI and I hope you will consider him for this prestigious award.

Primary nomination for Shane:

Shane spent the first part of his career in Management, Director & Consultant positions utilizing his CA.

After 10 years within industry, he was supporting a loved one who was struggling with addiction. At this time he began a mission to improve and innovate the Canadian Addiction Treatment landscape: "After scouting locations and developing our program concept, we opened our first residential treatment center in Erin, Ontario in October 2013. Trafalgar Addiction Treatment Centers was the first of its kind in Canada focusing on treating Concurrent Disorders (Addiction and Mental Health together). In this short time we have grown to 64 Employees, become CARF Accredited and have developed the first Virtual Intensive Outpatient Program providing greater accessibility to intensive treatment to all Canadians as a true alternative to the traditional residential rehab model."

Shane utilized his MMPA/MBA in Accounting education to uniquely understand accounting principals but utilize the great foundation of business operations, management and leadership to succeed in his mission of opening a treatment center.

In this he has received the following:

  • Ranked on Canadian Business Magazine Growth2020 List of Canada’s fastest growing companies
  • A Canadian Healthcare innovator by creating greater accessibility to intensive addiction and mental health treatment. The immediate impact of COVID caused Trafalgar to close its physical outpatient programming and pivot to a Virtual platform, that has now seen monthly admissions grown 4X over its pre covid baseline.
  • Created the Trafalgar Local Hero Program where they provide free 30 day treatment beds and programming to First Responders in need every week for a year.

IMIvator Award

This award is given to a current IMI graduate student who has used a multi-disciplinary approach in the conceptualization and/or creation of a new product, service, project, event, group or program that demonstrates innovative idea(s), enhances the student experience, and may have a long-lasting impact on students and/or community.

* Student(s) can be nominated for both the IMIvator and Social Leadership Awards.

2021 Recipient: Gloria Ko (MScSM Class of 2021)

Gloria Ko | 2021 IMIvator Award

Primary nomination:

I nominate Gloria's startup, as it will challenge the status quo of the polluting and discriminatory beauty industry. Rial Skin is the first facial moisturiser that replaces conventional plastic and glass containers with fully biodegradable, and renewable materials. By using 100% clean, smooth and hygienic coconut containers, this eliminates the contribution of the current global production of 120 billion units of cosmetics that end up in landfill and ocean plastic. Despite the recyclability or recycled post-consumer plastic packaging, plastic has a degradation curve, which eventually becomes no longer valuable. Glass is strong and sturdy, yet a highly emissive process to produce, and transport, releasing GHG emissions and typically used for luxury packaging.

Rial Skin highlights 3 natural ingredients that are upcycled, FSC certified, halal, organic, and is comparably less energy and water intensive compared to virgin ingredients. Once the facial moisturiser is finished, the consumer can plant a seed (provided) in the coconut container, or compost the container. Social sustainability is integral, as the formulation will be tested on all skin tones as darker skin tones have historically been discriminated in the beauty industry. Authenticity is key when marketing the brand as we promote non-photoshopped, and avoiding buzzwords. Coconut suppliers are from a non-profit organization that hire local women in rural neighborhoods, to enhance their livelihoods. Sustainable cosmetics tend to be expensive or difficult to find, Rial Skin aims to address these pain points by considering affordability without compromising environmental values.

IMI Social Leadership Award

This award is given to a current IMI graduate student who has led an initiative or conceptualized a product or service that focused directly on social responsibility, community well-being, and/or sustainable future. The contribution may focus on the well-being of IMI, UTM, the local community, or the broader community at large.

* Student(s) can be nominated for both the IMIvator and Social Leadership Awards.

2021 Recipient: Raguram Bhaskar (MScSM Class of 2021)

Raguram Bhaskar | 2021 IMI Social Leadership Award

Primary nomination:

It is with great happiness that I write this letter in support of Raguram Bhaskar in this nomination for the IMI Social Leadership Award. I can say without a doubt that Raguram possesses strong leadership qualities and that this award outlines what I’ve been able to personally see in him, professionally and academically during his time at IMI. Over the course of getting to know Raguram, I witnessed his capabilities and skill first-hand, being frequently tasked with responsibilities outside of his academic obligations. However, every time Raguram was presented with a new opportunity, he managed to perform and take on leadership roles. In his first year at MScSM, Ragu joined the Graduate Student Committee (GSC). On top of being elected one of two class representatives for his cohort, he additionally took a leadership role in this committee. His contribution led to engagement opportunities for all graduate students at IMI and assisting with the improvement of the quality of academic experience through increased networking within and outside the university. Raguram’s passion for education was well exhibited in the second semester of his first year during the creation of UTM’s Sustainability Week. While excelling in his studies, Raguram was able to also promote informed dialogue through co-creating Sustainability Week in March of 2020. He continued his involvement from the inception of this initiative and joined the leadership team in UTM’s Sustainability Week 2021. This is a perfect example of contributing to the variety and richness of campus diversity through cultural events and social programming.