Janet De Silva Appointed to Lead Ivey Asia's Next Stage of Growth

Former Sun Life China CEO appointed to head Ivey's Asian Campus in Hong Kong

TORONTO, April 4 /CNW/ - Janet De Silva, former CEO of Sun Life China, will be taking charge of the Richard Ivey School of Business' Asian operations through her appointment as Associate Dean, Asia. De Silva's experience as a recognized business leader in Hong Kong and Mainland China will be instrumental in leading Ivey's growth in Asia.

De Silva has spent more than a decade living and working in Hong Kong and Mainland China. While heading up Sun Life's joint venture in China, its operations expanded from two to 14 cities, and its workforce grew to more than 4,000 in just three years. In 2007, De Silva co-founded Retail China Limited, a company that worked with international retail brands targeting China's growing middle class. The company was acquired by a Singapore group in late 2009.

"This is an exciting time to be stepping into this role. Lack of experienced management talent has become the biggest barrier to growth for Chinese and multinational companies," said De Silva.

"As China actively transitions from internal to international investing and Western companies seek access to China's fast growing consumer markets, both face acute talent and experience shortages to take them global. Education, particularly executive development, is the top priority for building successful, sustainable companies," said De Silva who has served terms as both Chair and President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong and Chair of Canada China Business Council, Beijing. De Silva, EMBA '94, is also an Ivey graduate and has served as a member of Ivey's Asian Advisory Board.

Having a relevant, international perspective and developing business leaders who can effectively operate in Asia is a central priority for Ivey.  This was recently endorsed by Agricultural Bank of China, China's 3rd largest bank, whose 2010 IPO was one of the largest in history. Attracted by Ivey's reputation as one of the top two case method schools globally, Agricultural Bank of China sent 25 senior executives to Ivey's Canadian campus for a year-long Executive MBA program, complemented by work experience at one of Canada's top financial institutions, BMO Financial Group.

Ivey's international reach and Asian experience is seen by its move more than 12 years ago to be the first North American business school with its own permanent campus in the region. Ivey is also the world's foremost producer of Asian case studies.

"I know Jan as an energizing and motivating leader who excels at building strong teams who deliver outstanding results," said Ivey Business School Dean Carol Stephenson. "Her skill in international media and government relations, her deep understanding of the financial and retail markets in China, and her ability to develop collaborative relationships will be great assets in her new role with Ivey. Most importantly, Jan is passionate about Ivey and the critical role that business education will play in building the global leaders of tomorrow."

Canada's increasing business and educational ties with China will become even more valuable as trade increases over the next five years. In 2009, bilateral trade between the two countries totaled $29 billion, and President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have agreed to undertake active measures to make the two-way trade volume reach $60 billion by 2015.

De Silva replaces Kathleen Slaughter, who is returning to Canada after eight successful years in Hong Kong. Slaughter guided the development and growth of Ivey's operation in Asia, particularly in Executive Development programming, where Ivey consistently ranks as the #1 Executive Education provider in Greater China. As a sign of her influence, she was elected President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong.

"Through periods of high growth and then tremendous global economic instability, Kathleen has kept a steady hand on Ivey's operation in China," said Dean Stephenson. "During her tenure in Asia, Ivey's Executive Development Programming has doubled in scale and today, Ivey Asia is ranked the #1 Provider of Executive Education in Greater China by the Financial Times."

For more information, please click here. De Silva and Slaughter discuss Ivey Asia.

About the Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario
The Richard Ivey School of Business (www.ivey.ca) at The University of Western Ontario is Canada's leading provider of relevant, innovative and comprehensive business education. Drawing on extensive research and business experience, Ivey faculty provide the best classroom experience, equipping graduates with the skills and capabilities they need to tackle the leadership challenges in today's complex business world. Ivey offers world-renowned undergraduate and graduate degree programs as well as Executive Development at campuses in London (Ontario), Toronto and Hong Kong.

SOURCE Richard Ivey School of Business

For further information:

Paul Mitchell, Communications Specialist, Richard Ivey School of Business, 519-850-2536, pmitchell@ivey.uwo.ca

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