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$1.2 million to expand experiential learning at Concordia’s John Molson School of Business

New gift from J. Sebastian van Berkom, a major donor to the Campaign for Concordia, aimed at finance students
October 11, 2022
By Ian Harrison, BComm 01

Concordia graduate J. Sebastian van Berkom, BComm 69, LLD 17, has made another significant gift to the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen Now.

With his new $1.2 million donation to the John Molson School of Business, the founder, partner, chairman and chief executive officer of Montreal’s Van Berkom Global Asset Management has now given close to $4 million to his alma mater.

His latest gift will allow the Van Berkom Investment Management Program (VBIMP) and Van Berkom John Molson Small-Cap Case Competition to develop the next generation of investment managers and strengthen Concordia’s mission to expand experiential learning opportunities for its students.

“The son of Dutch immigrants who came to Canada amid difficult circumstances, Sebastian van Berkom has shown tremendous gratitude for the head start his Concordia education gave him in business,” says Graham Carr, Concordia’s President and Vice-Chancellor. “His example of hard work and perseverance, combined with his vision for innovation in investment management, has inspired students at John Molson to cultivate purposeful careers with integrity.

“On behalf of our entire university community, I want to thank Sebastian and his wife Ghislaine van Berkom for their remarkable generosity.”

  • IN HIS OWN WORDS Find out why J. Sebastian van Berkom continues to support the John Molson School of Business at Concordia.

“My success would not have been possible without the education I received at Sir George Williams Business School, now the John Molson School of Business at Concordia, and it has been my honour to give back,” says Sebastian van Berkom.

“I hope this latest gift helps expose even more eligible students to the challenges and rewards of a focused investment strategy like small-cap portfolio management.”

Investing in future success

Van Berkom and his firm first partnered with John Molson to launch the finance-specific Van Berkom John Molson Small-Cap Case Competition in 2011. The annual event’s focus on small-cap investments provides students with an opportunity to apply classroom theory, develop analytical skills and network with other students as well as industry professionals.

A second, $1-million gift established the Van Berkom Investment Management Program in 2016. The program gives an annual cohort of undergraduate students the opportunity to manage a portfolio of small-cap stocks — firms whose market capitalization is worth $4 billion or less — before they embark on investment management careers.

Student fund managers are responsible for both the selection and the management of stocks, based on criteria set by a committee made up of Concordia professors, partners at Van Berkom Global Asset Management and the program’s benefactor.

“Participants who have come through the program have generated superb results,” says van Berkom. “The initial $1 million that I donated to the VBIMP is now worth $2 million — all thanks to the impressive performance of our students.”

  • WATCH VBIMP director Amr Addas and two VBIMP students describe the impact of Sebastian van Berkom’s support.

Says Anne-Marie Croteau, dean of John Molson: “Much of our success as a business school depends on the vision and support of accomplished alumni like Sebastian van Berkom. His continued interest and involvement have helped us become one of the top-ranked business schools in Canada and a world-class hub for case competitions.”

'A champion of our business school'

Sebastian van Berkom’s investment career began in 1971 at Bell Canada Pension Fund. In 1979, he became a Partner of LRM Investment Management and, in 1984, co-founded Montrusco Bolton Investments Inc.

He founded Van Berkom and Associates Inc. in 1991 and established Van Berkom Golden Dragon Limited in Hong Kong in 2012. Van Berkom has also served on the board of directors of the Jarislowsky Foundation since April 2021. His honours include the Small-Cap Manager of the Year Award in 1997 and finalist for the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1998.

At Concordia, he has also endowed a Department of Finance chair in small-cap equities, and supported student bursaries and research fellowships.

“The Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen Now is fortunate to have dedicated supporters like Sebastian,” says Paul Chesser, BA 94, GrDip 97, vice-president of Advancement. “As a champion of our business school, he has been a difference-maker who empowers students to follow his principled example as they chart successful careers in the world of finance.”

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