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[Photography by Jeremy Kohm]


Associate Dean, Executive Degree Programs, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto


Beatrix is a winner of a Bud Fackler Service Award for international contributions to the executive MBA industry

Corporate board director, Ellis Don, one of Canada’s largest construction companies

Total degrees: 3, including a PhD in economics


Geeta Sheker, Director, Initiative for Women in Business, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

From Geeta Sheker

As told to Kate Daley

I met Beatrix through my work at the Rotman School of Management, but we really got to know each other on one of our first business development trips to India in 2007. I managed Rotman’s non-degree In­ternational Executive programs and was there for business development. Beatrix was there to set up the Indian module for our Global Executive MBA program. We had a lot of time to talk about our mutual passion for advanc­ing women. She’s been a lifelong advocate for women and removing barriers around their advancement. I think in many ways the Rot­man’s Initiative for Women in Business was hatched on that trip.

Beatrix was quite dismayed when she saw the number of women in the MBA program and she said to me in 2008: “This is not good.” She wanted to position Rotman’s as a place that women would consider for their business degree, and more importantly, encourage women to think of business education as one of their career options in the first place.

The initiative started with one program. We were given no funding whatsoever to launch it and built it from the ground up. Seven years later, the initiative has a broad spectrum of programs for women at every stage in their careers, from new immigrants to women aspiring to C-suite positions. We have best practices workshops, a speaker series and more broadly the initiative supports women by opening doors and giving them career guidance. Beatrix is really the founder of the initiative (of which she’s now the executive director) and has championed it at the school.

Her mother was a career woman and a chemist and Beatrix talks about how that was a huge influence in her life. Beatrix decided to take up the sciences and has a Master’s degree in information science and economics and a PhD in statistics and economics.

After she finished her PhD, she was a consultant for McKinsey & Company for quite a few years. When she had her daugh­ter she was considering career options and one of the things McKinsey did was ask her to do an internal project on how they could retain some of their consultants who were balancing their family life with an intense work schedule. She was really interested and committed to finding ways to make sure that women didn’t leave the work­force, that they found ways to balance it or at least made conscious choices about it. She does believe that you can do both.

She has a number of firsts to her name. She’s the first female associate dean at Rotman’s, she was one of the first women on the board of a construction company [EllisDon], and she has a non-traditional academic background. She is a unique role model and mentor to a number of women and will go the extra mile to open doors for others. One of Beatrix’s former students told me that, as her mentor, Beatrix ac­tively furthered her career and helped her carve out more fulfilling paths. She told me that Beatrix had a significant impact on her life by brainstorming with her, represent­ing her and guiding her. She described Beatrix as a friend, philosopher and guide. Beatrix grooms people to become leaders.