$2-million gift supports advancement of women and diversity in business


A $2-million gift from prominent Vancouver business leader John Montalbano to the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia will support the creation of a professorship focused on the advancement of women and diversity in business leadership.

A long-term supporter of UBC, Montalbano is CEO of RBC Global Asset Management and a member of the UBC Board of Governors. His gift will create the Montalbano Professorship in Leadership Studies: Women and Diversity.

To accompany the professorship, the Sauder School of Business will fundraise an additional $900,000, which will be dedicated to supporting related MBA scholarships, PhD research and community engagement initiatives.

“Despite all the best intentions by the world’s leading organizations, women and minorities are still not finding their way to leadership roles in acceptable numbers,” says Montalbano, on his motivation for funding the professorship. “If we can solve this in Canada, it could become a competitive advantage for the country and inspire others to follow suit.”

An international search is currently underway for a new faculty member to fill the professorship. The role will be a source of major new research in leadership studies for women and minority group members, and a guiding force at the school informing curriculum and programming. The new faculty member will also actively engage in outreach activities locally, nationally and globally, with the objective of influencing perceptions and practice in business in Canada and around the world.

“John Montalbano’s gift to the school reflects his strong belief that gender and ethnic diversity in leadership creates resilient, sustainable and competitive companies,” says Sauder Dean Robert Helsley, Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy. “His generous support will allow Sauder to become a centre of excellence in scholarship aimed at promoting diverse leadership, with the ultimate goal of benefiting the business community at large.”


Additional quote:

“As companies expand and geographic lines blur, it is key that women and men of all backgrounds have a seat in the executive suite,” said current UBC MBA student Swetha Kola, who leads Sauder’s Women in Business Club. “This funding recognizes the future of business and who needs to be at the table.”


The Sauder School of Business is committing to fundraising a total of $900,000 to accompany the Montalbano professorship gift. These commitments include:

  • $500,000 in MBA program scholarships created to promote the advancement of women in senior roles in business.
  • $200,000 to support PhD research in the area of leadership for women and diverse people.
  • $200,000 to fund outreach and engagement initiatives associated with the professorship.

In support of Sauder’s fundraising effort, RBC Wealth Management has agreed to support the outreach and engagement initiatives with a $125,000 sponsorship gift.

The gift to create the Montalbano Professorship in Leadership Studies: Women and Diversity was provided as a part of UBC’s start an evolution, a major campaign with a twin goal of raising $1.5 billion and doubling the number of alumni engaged in the life of the university by 2015.

Biography: John Montalbano

John Montalbano is CEO of RBC Global Asset Management, the asset management division of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), a position he has held since May 1, 2008 when RBC acquired Phillips, Hager & North Investment Management Ltd. (PH&N). He began his career in 1987, when he joined Vancouver-based PH&N as an equity analyst and subsequently assumed successive leadership roles within the firm, culminating in his appointment as President in 2005.

Montalbano holds a Chartered Financial Analyst designation and a Bachelor of Commerce, with Honours, from the University of British Columbia, and he is a Leslie Wong Fellow of the UBC Portfolio Management Foundation. He is Chair of the Finance Committee for the UBC Board of Governors and supports the Sauder School of Business in a number of capacities: as a member of its Faculty Advisory Board; as a member of the Advisory Board of the Phillips, Hager & North Centre for Financial Research; and as a founding advisor to the Sauder Philanthropy Program, an initiative that fosters philanthropy leadership skills among young business students who are committed to community service. Also active in the community, Montalbano’s wife, Dana, sits on the Boards of Arts Umbrella and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver.

John and Dana Montalbano reside in Vancouver with their two sons.

Biography: Dean Robert Helsley

Robert Helsley is Dean of the Sauder School of Business and Grosvenor Professor of Cities, Business Economics and Public Policy. He joined the Sauder School of Business as Dean on July 1, 2012. Prior to becoming Dean, he served as Senior Associate Dean, Faculty and Research from 2002 to 2008, Director of the UBC Centre for Real Estate and Urban Economics, and Chair of the Urban Land Economics division.

Between 2008 and 2012, before returning to Sauder, Helsley served at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley as a Professor and Chair in Real Estate Development, and was the Co-chair of the Fisher Center for Real Estate and Urban Economics. He completed an MA and PhD in Economics at Princeton University, and a BS in Economics and Mathematics at the University of Oregon. He has published widely in the areas of urban and public economics, real estate and public policy.