Empowering tomorrow’s leaders: Catherine Stefan’s inaugural gift creates a path to success
Rotman Commerce alum Catherine Stefan (BCom ‘73) has spearheaded the fundraising efforts by making the inaugural gift in support of the Centre for Professional Skills, a program unique to Rotman Commerce that works with faculty and staff to enhance our students’ skillsets throughout the four years of their undergraduate degree.
Catherine Stefan, BCom ’73
“Universities and education are so important – any money that can be put towards education, encouraging people to study more, to learn more, to broaden their minds – I am thrilled to do so.”
Through her firsthand observations from a long and successful business career, the alum recognized a growing gap in training young professionals on the vital soft skills that remain critical to success in the workplace.
When she heard about Rotman Commerce’s Centre for Professional Skills, Catherine knew this was an opportunity to help fill the gaps she’d seen in the professional world. “Universities and education are so important – any money that can be put towards education, encouraging people to study more, to learn more, to broaden their minds – I am thrilled to do so,” she adds.
Alexandra Motut, Director, Centre for Professional Skills
“Exceptional communication, interpersonal, and self-development skills make our graduates stand out not only for their business and technical knowledge, but also for their professionalism.”
“It was bothering me for a long time, and I thought, ‘Well, what can I do about it?’ I do some mentoring but that is only a small piece of the puzzle,” says Stefan, who has served as a mentor to young women in the business community for many years. “The University of Toronto has such a high quality of students – they’re as bright as anything – but do they know how to make a presentation? This is a result of the education system focusing greatly on quantitative methods and often overlooking skills deemed more minor, like the delivery of their speech, for example.”
The Centre for Professional Skills’ mission goes beyond merely preparing students for their future careers – it aims to mold empathetic, adaptable and confident individuals who will redefine business leadership for generations to come. The Centre focuses on enhancing students’ competencies across six broad skill areas not always strengthened solely within traditional academic settings – cognitive, communication, interpersonal, research, self-development and technical. By focusing on developing this core set of essential skills, the Centre bridges the gap between theory and practice, imbuing students with the confidence to tackle real-world challenges head-on in their future careers.
“Our Centre for Professional Skills supports Rotman Commerce students in developing core transferable skills for both their studies and the workplace,” says Alexandra Motut, Executive Director of the Centre. “Exceptional communication, interpersonal, and self-development skills make our graduates stand out not only for their business and technical knowledge, but also for their professionalism.”
With the support of donors and alum like Stefan, Rotman Commerce is developing the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators who are responding to and embracing changing business demands in an increasingly complex world.
Gifts designated to programs like the Centre for Professional Skills enable us to attract the best and brightest students, deliver a high-quality university experience and maintain our position among the world’s leading business schools. With her belief in the potential of our students and commitment to nurturing their dreams, it is only together that Rotman Commerce can make our collective vision for the future a reality.
Stefan has a hopeful message for Rotman Commerce students and the wider Rotman community: “Nothing is impossible. Sometimes it’s just timing. When things aren’t going your way, you must take a pause and understand that just because the timing is not right, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”
Donors play a pivotal role in shaping the lives of countless students, unlocking their potential and empowering them to thrive in an ever-changing world. This inaugural gift stands as a testament to the profound impact philanthropy can have on education and the future of business leadership.