Tony Valente is a community leader whose career was set in motion by UBC Sauder

Tony Valente
Posted 2023-04-13
Tony Valente likes to keep as many doors open as possible. It’s an underlying theme of how he approaches his career, his leadership roles in the community, and his life in general. It’s also the reason he decided the UBC Sauder School of Business was the perfect place to pursue not one, but two degrees.

Valente is a graduate of both the UBC Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) and the UBC Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs. Though he has two UBC Sauder degrees to his name, Valente’s university days were defined by diverse experiences.

During his undergraduate degree, he participated in the European Summer Abroad Program in 2001 and fell in love with travel. He then embarked on a study exchange to Italy in August 2002 and came back to Canada one year later with such a strong command of Italian that he now considers himself “basically bilingual.”

Five days after his last-ever BCom exam, Valente boarded a plane back to Italy once again. He wanted to work for an international company that had room for growth and exploration. His first job post-graduation was with Whirlpool Europe based in Milan.

Tony Valente Bike
Valente (right) with his wife, Elena Giorgetti (left)


An unwieldy commute sparks a passion for car-light lifestyle

Valente spent the next three years gaining real-world experience as a European Logistics Manager and an Assistant Product Manager for Whirlpool. Though Valente enjoyed the work, there was one significant downside. He commuted 60 kilometres each direction to his office, which was close to the Swiss border.

Spending hours stuck in traffic every day gave rise to a lifelong fascination and passion for sustainable transportation. It also charted a path that would eventually lead Valente into local politics.

“Back then in Milan, there were cars on top of cars on top of cars. I learned a lot about the impact of commuting on people’s health and how our cities are made,” recalls Valente. “When I moved back to Vancouver to do the MBA, I said, ‘I am not going to spend huge portions of my life stuck in traffic, trapped in the car.’”

A “re-entry strategy” that worked wonders

As Valente describes it, enrolling in the UBC MBA after spending three years in Italy was a “re-entry strategy” into the Canadian job market. He was looking for a program that would develop his leadership qualities, inspire him to excel academically, and above all, equip him with the skills to emerge on the other end with great job prospects.

Looking back now, nearly 15 years after graduation, Valente can appreciate just how well the strategy worked. In fact, Valente’s decision to return to UBC Sauder set in motion the next decade of his professional life.

One particular watershed moment was when Bob Elton, then CEO of BC Hydro, was invited to be a guest speaker in one of his classes.

“I wanted to work for another large company so that I could move into different roles, but I was also interested in the values and vision of sustainability,” says Valente. “BC Hydro ticked all of the boxes.”

Inspired by Elton’s presentation, Valente pursued an internship with BC Hydro during the MBA program and began working full-time for the organization after he graduated in 2008. He ended up working at BC Hydro for 10 years, exploring different portfolios and receiving internal promotions throughout his time there.

Tony Valente Bike
Valente has been a city councillor for the City of North Vancouver since 2018


Championing change for the public good

Valente has kept the promise to himself to lead a car-light life. Today, he uses a cargo bike to get around and says his family’s single vehicle often remains parked in the driveway. He’s also dedicated much of his life to championing sustainable modes of transportation for the public good.

In 2018, Valente was elected as a city councillor for the City of North Vancouver. One of his key policy positions is “more choice, less congestion” when it comes to transportation.

He points to the $7.5 million revamp of North Vancouver’s Esplanade corridor as an example of how cities can evolve to suit the modern-day needs of road users. A key part of the enhancement project is the creation of separate mobility lanes for cyclists, electric scooters, skateboards, and other alternative vehicles.

Mitigating infrastructure risks for a living

Valente also works full-time as Risk Director at Transportation Investment Corporation, a Crown corporation with a mandate to deliver major infrastructure projects on behalf of the Government of British Columbia.

As Risk Director, Valente manages a team of risk coordinators and a risk manager. “We work together to identify things that could go wrong during a project and then put treatments into place to minimize the possibility of them happening,” he explains.

Lessons in project management from UBC Sauder

Valente says he draws on multiple learnings from UBC Sauder every day in his role. His schooling in supply chain and logistics helps him in planning projects, creating schedules and Gantt charts, and understanding the logic of construction. His background in marketing has helped him build and maintain relationships with stakeholders, a skill that is particularly valuable when leading single-contract projects.

Valente majored in international business for his BCom and in strategic management and accounting for his MBA. He says the business fundamentals he gained back then assist him in navigating today’s complex global economy. “You have to have awareness of what’s happening around the world because it can have implications for projects that are happening here.”

When thinking back on the wide breadth of classes that he took throughout his postsecondary education, Valente says Principles of Negotiation with Professor Karl Aquino, Cost Management Accounting with Lecturer Jeff Kroeker, and Macroeconomics with late Professor Emeritus Maurice Levi, stand out as his all-time favourite courses.

The power of two UBC Sauder programs paired together

With his penchant for pursuing the broadest of opportunities, Valente says the true value in having done both his undergraduate and graduate schooling at UBC Sauder has been the far-reaching applicability of his learnings.

Though the BCom and the MBA degrees can certainly stand alone, Valente says that when paired together, the two programs reinforce each other and provide a strong basis for success in project management and in dealing with issues that arise in public administration.

“UBC Sauder prepares people very well. With the way the courses are structured, the focus on team work, the analytical skills that come from financial or quantitative subjects, you come out with this really broad, diverse view that you can apply wherever you end up. I think that’s really powerful.”