IMI Faculty & Staff Awards

IMI Faculty & Staff Awards

Each year, the Institute for Management & Innovation honours its most innovative and collaborative IMI teams and team members. The IMI Awards provide us with a chance to honour our hardworking, innovative, and committed faculty & staff.

Award nominations are reviewed by a panel that includes staff, faculty and student members from across UTM.

In August 2020, the winners were announced via Zoom at our fifth annual IMI Faculty & Staff Awards Reception.

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.

2020 Recipient: Kevin Yousie

Kevin Yousie | 2020 IMI Faculty Award

Kevin Yousie is a consummate professional and an amazing colleague. He brings his considerable expertise and experience in the area of strategy and innovation to many UTM programs, including the MMPA program where he is part of the faculty team who creates and hosts the annual MMPA Integrative Case Competitions. In this role, he has authored numerous cases that focus on innovations such as artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies and blockchain.

This year, Kevin organized and led a ground-breaking interdisciplinary case competition (The Big Data and AI Case Competition) for undergraduate students at UTM. It was sponsored by the IMI BIGDataAIHUB in partnership with Scotiabank. The competition offered students (many of whom worked in cross-disciplinary teams) the chance to work with real-life Scotiabank (big) data that had been encrypted to protect the privacy of individual clients. The task for the students was to 'recommend a process that employs big data and artificial intelligence in identifying whether clients are engaged in money laundering, specifically as it relates to human trafficking.'

It was an incredible experiential learning experience as it brought together students, faculty and data scientists from Scotiabank. The case competition was successful due to Kevin’s supreme planning and execution talents as well as his calm, quiet leadership. It is a pleasure to work with Kevin.

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.

2020 Recipient: Diana Aldaz

Diana Aldaz | 2020 IMI Staff Award

Diana has given new meaning to the role of Sustainability Outreach. She played the pivotal role in all IMI sustainability outreach initiatives in 2019-20. Her contributions to two inaugural events, the International STTPA Conference and Sustainability Week, were outstanding. All credit for the tremendous success of these events goes to Diana. She is incredibly organized and a genius at bringing people together.

Diana worked tirelessly to organize the details for these events from handling complex logistics, interfacing with stakeholders, and managing teams of volunteers and campus partners. Her project management skills are unparalleled: each event was flawless.  In STTPA, we had 350 attendees from 22 countries, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

Sustainability Week was conceptualized by MScSM students, but Diana converted it into a reality at UTM. The week encompassed 40 events including a professionally-produced Trashion-show, and engaged hundreds of students, staff and faculty in raising sustainability awareness at the campus.

Diana was instrumental in the success of Let’s Talk Sustainability and SciBiz summer camps. In Let’s Talk Sustainability, she brought 200 grade 7/8 students together at UTM to learn about sustainability. She was instrumental in planning, recruiting and training trainers, and organization of SciBiz.

Aside from Diana’s tremendous contribution to sustainability events at UTM, she has been an asset to MScSM, IMI and UTM: contributing to the day-to-day operations of MScSM. Her work supporting MScSM students, events, courses and operations is absolutely airtight – she has become an integral part of the team and made each of us even better.

Diana has truly shown how passionate she is about her work, IMI, and MScSM. She was instrumental in the planning of the SSTPA conference - IMI and possibly UTM's biggest conference to date. The overwhelming success of the conference can greatly be attributed to Diana's hard working nature. She also helped to facilitate Sustainability Week, organizing an assortment of events and activities for students, staff and faculty across the campus. Above all her contributions in her role, she is also always willing to contribute to IMI. From organizing our annual "minute to win-it" to being a part of the PD Team, she has a willingness to help wherever and whenever necessary. Diana is exceptionally hard working and organized, always seeming to make the impossible, possible!

Diana is an outstanding employee. This past year Diana managed the successful delivery of a multi-day campus hosted Sustainability conference in Fall 2019. The conference was a huge success with a 100+ attendees and dozens of sessions. Although the conference was a collective effort by the organizing committees, Diana's coordination and on-site management kept the conference running smoothly, on time and within budget. This conference raised the sustainability profile for UTM and the MScSM program while bringing together UTM students, faculty, industry partners and external guests. In addition, Diana also managed the delivery of the Sustainability week in Spring 2020 without outreach to the entire UTM campus.

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.

2020 Recipients: Rima Abu-Shakra, Ryan Cerrudo, & Carol Solonenko (Big Data & AI Case Competition)

Rima Abu-Shakra, Ryan Cerrudo, & Carol Solonenko | 2020 IMI Team Collaboration Award

The team of Carol Solonenko, Ryan Cerrudo and Rima Abu-Shakra demonstrated exemplary collaboration and were in large part responsible for the success of the 2020 Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Case Competition.  While this event was truly a team effort involving many within IMI including some of our graduate and undergraduate students, Carol, Ryan and Rima were the core operational team that pulled it all together.  

Initially designed to be a month-long competition ending with a one-day event at the end of January, due to overwhelming demand from students, the competition was transformed to accommodate all 175 students that were registered (registration was cut off when it hit 175) and it was extended by an additional three months requiring layers of additional work and complexity.  Carol, Ryan and Rima, who began to working on the competition as a team in September of 2019, rose to the occasion. This collaboration continued through to completion and the announcement of winners in April of this year. What was intended as a “sprint”, had become a “marathon”.

The tasks involved were many and varied, for example: the initial marketing, organizing and leading the registration process, Eventbrite invitations, website development, social media posts, budget preparation, room bookings for the January event and the two additional training sessions generously delivered by Prof. Gerhard Trippen, catering for the multiple activities, vetting of the student acknowledgement forms related to the non-disclosure agreement with Scotiabank, signage, poster promotional materials, photography, managing the competitor list in Quercus, on-site and off-site coordination of the IMI graduate student and staff volunteers, scheduling, purchasing of prizes, as well as the AV / TV logistics.  Carol, Ryan and Rima undertook all of these activities with a high level of positive energy and teamwork.  All three gave generously of their time and talents including proactively volunteering to attend and assist at the weekend event in January.

The 2020 Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Case Competition was a significant and multi-month event that required considerable effort, seamless collaboration, and significant personal commitment to ensure success.  Carol, Ryan and Rima made it all work notwithstanding the pandemic environment that ultimately emerged during this timeframe.  Thank you, Carol, Ryan and Rima. 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.

Read up on past recipients:

IMI Faculty Award Recipients

Kevin Yousie

2020 - Kevin Yousie

Laurel Besco

2018 - Laurel Besco

Irene Wiecek & Hugh Gunz

2016 - Irene Wiecek

Otto Yung & Soo Min Toh

2019 - Otto Yung

Louis Florence & Mihkel Tombak

2017 - Louis Florence


IMI Research Award Recipients

Soo Min Toh & Nico Lacetera

2019 - Nico Lacetera

Minlei Ye

2018 - Minlei Ye






Sonia Kang & Mihkel Tombak

2017 - Sonia Kang

IMI Staff Award Recipients

Diana Aldaz

2020 - Diana Aldaz

Linnet Kocheril & Heather Hines

2018 - Linnet Kocheril

Natasha Walli & Hugh Gunz

2016 - Natasha Walli

David Linden & Soo Min Toh

2019 - David Linden

Carol Solonenko, Pierre Desrochers, and Debby Keown

2017 - Carol Solonenko
& Debby Keown


IMI Team Collaboration Award Recipients

Rima Abu-Shakra, Ryan Cerrudo, & Carol Solonenko

2020 - Big Data & AI Case Competition
Rima Abu-Shakra, Ryan Cerrudo, & Carol Solonenko

Ignacio Mongrell & Sam Dumcum

2018 - ICUBE
Ignacio Mongrell & Sam Dumcum

Rose Mary Craig, Shashi Kant, & Claire Westgate

2016 - MScSM
Rose Mary Craig, Shashi Kant,
& Claire Westgate


Donna Heslin, Natasha Walli, Shauna Brail, Alyssa Madrasto, Ryan Cerrudo, and Soo Min Toh

2019 - Urban Leadership eXchange
Natasha Walli, Shauna Brail,
Alyssa Madrasto, & Ryan Cerrudo

Beate Ensminger, Afrodite Cruz, Alberto Galasso, & Pierre Desrochers

2017 - MMI
Beate Ensminger, Afrodite Cruz,
& Alberto Galasso