Brock employee and 15 alumni among Niagara’s outstanding young business professionals

A Brock University employee and 15 alumni were honoured last week with a 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Award.

Business Link Media Group hosted its 17th annual 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards ceremony on May 28, which recognizes 40 business people under the age of 40 who demonstrate an extraordinary level of success in their chosen sectors.

Emily O’Connor (BA ’09) represented Brock as the sole staff member awarded this year as one of Niagara’s top young business professionals.

O’Connor began her career at Brock in 2011 as a special events assistant with a focus on planning and executing Brock Days Alumni Weekend. Fast forward nine years, and while she has stayed within Alumni Relations, her role has evolved over the years into alumni relations officer.

“My focus is on faculty alumni engagement,” said O’Connor. “From something like assisting with Sport Management Alumni Day to securing panelists for departmental based career nights, I’ve been connected to so many wonderful on-campus partners and colleagues to help with their alumni initiatives.”

O’Connor was not only recognized for her professional success, but also her inspiring volunteer work. Originally from Hamilton, she moved to the Niagara region to attend Brock as a student, fell in love with the region and began to search for ways to give back to the community. She first began her volunteer work through Brock with initiatives like Random Acts of Kindness, Brock Cares Day and sitting on the University’s United Way Committee.

O’Connor currently sits as a board member and co-chair on the Events Committee for NEXTNiagara, which cultivates leadership opportunities through engagement and advocacy. Additionally, she supports local non-profits like the Lincoln County Humane Society and Motionball.

“Receiving the 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Award cements every decision that I have made in my personal and professional life thus far,” said O’Connor. “I want to continue to give back to the Niagara community and it’s nice to know that others can see that I’m making a small difference and want me to continue to do so.”

Due to COVID-19 and the physical distancing guidelines, this year’s ceremony was conducted virtually where the 40 award recipients were announced and celebrated for their contributions to improving Niagara’s growth and development.

“Business Link did a fantastic job shifting the ceremony online to still make everyone feel celebrated,” said O’Connor. “They were able to condense the awards to a one-hour video, which was streamed on YouTube and every recipient was announced and recognized. It ended up being quite a fun evening and I didn’t even have to leave my couch.”

Notably, the ceremony’s production team consisted of two candidates and two graduates from the Goodman School of Business’ MBA program. Marilyn Tian (MBA ’15), President of Business Link Media Group, Tin Ng (MBA ’15), Han (Gabriella) Wang (PMPC ’19) and Xiaoming (Constance) Liang (PMPC ’19) worked together to plan and execute the virtual ceremony.

“Han and Xiaoming have been volunteering their many hours in our two most recent 40 Under Forty events,” said Tian. “Tin and I were actually in the same Brock graduation class of 2015. They have all done a fantastic job and shown such good quality of Goodman School of Business grads.”

The 17th 40 Under Forty Niagara Business Achievements Awards Broadcast Ceremony is now available to watch on YouTube.

Brock alumni recipients of the 40 Under Forty Business Achievement Awards 2020:

  • Jade Anema (MBA ’18), Project Co-ordinator, Hallex Environmental LTD.
  • Nick Cupolo (BA ’15), Founder, Evergreen Thrift Store
  • Kyle Ellsworth (BBA ’12), Community Wealth Advisor, Meridian Credit Union
  • Matrixx Ferreira (BSc ’15, Founder, Iron Performance Center
  • Kenneth Groves (BSc ’07), CMO & co-founder of InspireHealth Niagara
  • Mahoganie Hines (BScN ’16), Registered Nurse, McNally House Hospice & Palliative Pain and Symptom Management Consultant, Niagara Region
  • Vanessa Holm (BA ’06), Chief Executive Officer, West Lincoln Public Library
  • Michael Idzenga (BSc ’13; BEd ’13), Founder, The Crux Escape Room Inc.
  • Kevin Jong (BA ’13), Director of Development, United Way Niagara
  • Kristi Lawrence (BA ’03), Director of Shelter Services and Operations, Gillian’s Place
  • Evan MacDonald (BSM ’14), Owner & CEO, Mac Inc.
  • Andrew MacLellan (BA ’10), Senior Manager, Projects and Transformation, Meridian Credit Union
  • Emily O’Connor (BA ’09), Alumni Relations Officer, Brock University
  • Jesse Sahota (BA ’05), Engineering Co-op & Career Services, McMaster University
  • Patricia Suess (BAcc ’13), Manager, Durward Jones Barkwell and Company LLP
  • Pamela Sharp (BA ’05), Director of Community Engagement, Project SHARE

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