Stephen Freedhoff

 

Stephen Freedhoff, BCom ’57

Former Partner, PWC, Consultant, and Outdoor Enthusiast

Bucolic Beginnings

Almost 60 years after his graduation from the Commerce and Finance Program, alumnus Stephen Freedhoff (BCom ’57) fondly reflects on his time as an undergrad at UofT. “It was a blossoming experience,” says Stephen, “all the good things that come from university – lifelong friends, exposure to unknown worlds, and a last blast before the commencement of a career.”

Unique are memorable moments such as rushing from the Economics building on Bloor Street to University College to make his next lecture and sparring in the editorial page of The Varsity with Peter Gzowski: “Financial UofT matters, of course,” says Stephen. In between, he enjoyed studying at the new University library, now Gerstein, and the peace and quiet of the Hart House Music Room. There was also time for squash on the small Hart House court and football away-weekends with the Student Administrative Council (SAC).

Rounding out his undergraduate experience was Stephen’s participation as treasurer of UC LIT (1955-56), treasurer of the SAC (1956-57), and a member of Sigma Alpha Mu. However, it was his involvement (1953-57) in the Hillel Foundation that provided him with a true sense of community.

Chart(er)ing His Course

In his high school yearbook, Stephen listed Chartered Accountancy under “Future Plans.” According to Stephen, “medicine and law did not appeal.” Instead, he chose the Commerce and Finance program at the University of Toronto to gain a sound theoretical knowledge in commerce prior to embarking on his future plan to become a chartered accountant. Always practical, Stephen also calculated that his BCom studies would eliminate two years and one set of examinations of the CA course  upon successful completion of his degree.

After graduation, Stephen wanted to test the waters for an academic career and took a teaching assistantship at the University of Pittsburgh, while working on his MBA. “I did not realize what sound economic training I had received at UofT until I started working on the MBA in the States,” says Stephen. “Towards the end of the academic year, I took a summer job as a canoe instructor in Wisconsin instead of completing my MBA thesis.”

Stephen ultimately ended up returning to Toronto to join McDonald, Currie & Co. Chartered Accountants in 1958, which eventually evolved into PwC and practiced as a partner for forty plus years until retirement in 1999. He spent three years overseas (1965-67 and 1985-86) one year of which in London, England as a consultant with Cooper Brothers & Co..

The Next Chapter

Since his retirement, Stephen has had the time to enjoy theatre and music, and to finally read financial non-financial books! When he’s not down south or on cruises, Stephen and his wife Helen spend much of their time at the cottage, visiting out-of-town children, grandchildren, and overseas friends. A few clients round out his activities. An avid hiker, he’s planning a trek with his son this summer in the Dolomites. “It’s so important to count one’s good fortune to have received a superior education, and to make most of your learning,” advises Stephen. “As Warren Buffet said, when asked the secret of his success – ‘I won the ovarian sweepstakes.’”