'Ties are strong'

Jan 25th, 2018

Susan White

Karl Smith of Fortis Inc. is the new chair of the business faculty's advisory board.
'Ties are strong'

A local business leader with a long-standing connection to the Faculty of Business Administration is the new chair of its advisory board.

Karl Smith (B.Comm.(Hons.)(Co-op.)’81), executive vice-president and chief financial officer of Fortis Inc. in St. John’s, assumed the role on Jan. 22. He takes over from Rob Crosbie, chief executive officer of Crosbie Group Ltd., who served as the board’s chair for the past seven years.

“My ties to the faculty are strong, and I’ve always felt compelled to give back to the university,” said Mr. Smith. “The Faculty of Business Administration educates some of the brightest and well-educated business students in the country, and I see huge potential over the coming years to build on this success.”

He previously served on the advisory board from 1996-2007.

Community volunteer

Mr. Smith’s career with the Fortis Group spans nearly 30 years. He served as president and chief executive officer of FortisAlberta from 2007-2014, president and chief executive officer of Newfoundland Power from 2004-2007, and as vice-president, finance and chief financial officer of Fortis from 1999-2003.

“My ties to the faculty are strong, and I’ve always felt compelled to give back to the university.” – Karl Smith

He also has a long history of community involvement. Currently, he’s a member of the Association of Chartered Professional Accountants of Newfoundland and Labrador and serves on the boards of the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, Junior Achievement of Newfoundland and Labrador, UNS Energy and Fortis BC.

Mr. Smith is past chair of the Canadian Electricity Association, the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council, the board of governors of Mount Royal University and the board of Junior Achievement of Southern Alberta. He is also past treasurer of the Western Energy Institute.

Mr. Smith’s relationship with the Memorial has spanned many years and diverse projects. In addition to past membership on the business faculty’s advisory board, he has also judged case competitions for master of business administration (MBA) students and was instrumental in growing Memorial’s Calgary Affinity Newfoundland and Labrador Dinner, one of the university’s most successful alumni and fundraising events.

In 2016, he received the J.D. Eaton Alumni Award from Memorial in recognition of his outstanding volunteer contributions.

A vital connection

Mr. Smith says the advisory board provides a vital connection between the business faculty and the business community in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Our role is to be a critical sounding board and provide that pure business perspective to the faculty,” he said. “This connection provides the faculty with valuable insights into the local business environment and is an avenue for business leaders to help shape the direction and programs of the faculty.

“As chair of the advisory board, my intention is to ensure we provide the best and most substantive feedback and insights to the dean and the faculty’s senior management. We want to be viewed as an area of strength and insight for the faculty and university leadership.”

‘Door to the business community’

The advisory board is critical in helping the faculty deliver on its promise of providing excellent and relevant research and business education for students, says Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean.

“We want to be viewed as an area of strength and insight for the faculty and university leadership.”

“Sometimes it’s difficult for universities and the world of business to truly understand each other so we need to make sure this happens. We have to understand, as a business school, that the input of the advisory board is extremely important to make sure that the education that we deliver and the research that we produce is relevant,” she said. “The advisory board is our door to the business community.”

Mr. Smith says the board can help the faculty identify priorities for future research and curriculum development, recruit top faculty members and students, keep up with evolving technologies and changing environments and overcome other challenges that arise.

“Our advisory board includes thought leaders from a number of industries in our province, and there is tremendous expertise and brain power around our table,” said Mr. Smith. “I want to ensure we put it to good use for the benefit of the faculty. At the end of the day, to me success is ensuring the advisory board engages in meaningful discussion that ultimately helps the faculty fulfill its mission and exceed its objectives.”