By Rachel Cooper (’89)
Diversity is a key to success in business and society. That’s what Acadia University graduate Tim Formuziewich (’00) believes. In his role as Managing Director, Head of Infrastructure, at Investment Management Corporation of Ontario (IMCO), he invests in infrastructure assets around the world on behalf of Ontario-based pension clients. Previously, he held senior roles with CPP Investments and Brookfield Asset Management.
“I have been lucky to have lived in multiple provinces in Canada and countries around the world,” he says. “Those experiences have taught me that decision-making is optimized when a diversity of perspectives is considered. In my view, that is best accomplished through diversity of life and professional experiences. Socio-economic upbringing, education, work experience, and the obstacles life puts in front of us are core aspects of diversity.”
In Tim’s experience, children who grow up with small economic means are as intelligent as other children, but also need to be extremely innovative, creative and hard-working just to survive. “At the same time, these children often miss out on further education,” he says. “Our classrooms and boardrooms can benefit greatly from people with this lens on life.”
With that in mind, he has set up the Formuziewich Fund for Diversity and Hardship, a new award intended to alleviate financial stress for students who have been challenged by economic hardship. They could be refugees, international students from low-income families in low-income countries, or from Canada. The fund is also intended to contribute to diversity on campus by attracting someone who brings different life experiences to Acadia.
Support a Ukrainian student
The Russian invasion of Ukraine motivated him to create a second fund. The Formuziewich Bursary for Ukrainian Students will provide full financial support to a displaced Ukrainian student to complete their degree at Acadia.
“I have Ukrainian heritage,” Tim says. “This is an opportunity for me to help a community that is important to me.”
The words of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky moved him to consider the best way he could contribute. “At the start of the invasion of Ukraine, President Zelensky is reported to have said, ‘I don’t need a ride, I need weapons,’ in response to America’s offer of evacuation. I decided that one way I can help is by providing the opportunity for a Ukrainian student to earn a degree at Acadia in the hope that, long-term, the student can use education as their own weapon,” he says.
“The bursary will support someone who is facing challenges that few of us have ever faced and hopefully will ever have to face. It is designed to reduce the financial burden for a Ukrainian student who is furthering their education in Canada.”
After graduating from Acadia with a business degree, Tim became a Chartered Accountant and a CFA Charterholder. He pursued an international career in investment and finance that included 10 years working and living in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. “I had the opportunity to work and live every day with Brazilians and learn Portuguese,” he says. “While I am not a natural with languages, I can now speak with hundreds of millions of people that I couldn’t speak with before. I get a great deal of satisfaction out of that.”
Responding to inequality
Living in Brazil opened his eyes to inequality. “I grew up in Ottawa and went to a multicultural school,” he says. “My friends were mostly people of colour, and I never saw them as different from myself. I believed we had all received an equal education and had equal opportunities. We all work hard, but the challenges and opportunities we have faced have been quite different. This is especially true of poor members of developing nations.
“I loved Acadia,” he adds. “I found the professors, students and community incredibly welcoming. Making university accessible to people who could not otherwise afford it can help good people achieve great things. That’s a weapon that’s going to really help people longer term.”