IDEA 2021 - What an Evening!

“IDEA 2021 represented the bringing together of our business community and our bright future of working towards common goals within our community and business school. Dr. Rady’s words were inspirational as it relates to community leadership and the opportunities in front of us when we work together.” – Andrew Stibbard, The Associates Chair

Dr. Ernest Rady, Founder, President, and CEO of American Assets Trust was honoured as the 2021 IDEA Recipient on November 17, 2021.  After 30 months since our last IDEA, it was wonderful to once again bring together our community to celebrate the achievements and impact of Dr. Rady – an exceptional entrepreneur, Manitoban, and University of Manitoba alumnus. His drive, skill, and generosity have greatly benefitted the lives of people across North America, especially within the fields of education and healthcare in both his hometown of Winnipeg and his adopted home of San Diego. He was able to share some of his wisdom with over 750 IDEA dinner attendees and reconnect with his Manitoba community. Notably, he emphasized that he still carries with him key principles and values that he learned while growing up in Winnipeg: being truthful, honest, and trustworthy in all personal and professional dealings.

IDEA 2021 was a resounding success, selling out and operating with adapted measures to keep attendees safe. The Associates were proud to host an event that allowed members of our community to reconvene in person and connect again after a long pause of sizeable events. We hope that you, too, found value in reigniting our business and personal connections. 30 partners supported IDEA, highlighting the generosity and community-mindedness of our local businesses and organizations. Funds raised go towards supporting the I. H. Asper School of Business with student programming, faculty and student awards, and upgrades to school facilities. As a result, the continued success of IDEA contributes to ensuring that students in Manitoba have access to a world-class business education within their own province.

Thank you to all of you who attended, supported, and were part of IDEA 2021. We truly have a remarkable team that makes IDEA possible! It was delightful to once again be able to come together as a community to network, share a delicious meal, and celebrate the accomplishments of our IDEA Recipient. Dr. Rady’s visit will leave a lasting impact on our organization, and we look forward to staying in contact with such an energetic and transformative business leader.

IDEA 2021 was a memorable evening for all and we look forward to IDEA 2022. Thank you for making Manitoba a better place to learn, live, and do business – our province is stronger because of each and every one of you.

Read more about IDEA 2021 in the Winnipeg Free Press article, here.

We would like to extend our utmost gratitude and give special thanks to our Partners and team that made IDEA 2021 an astounding success:

Platinum Partner
Royal Bank of Canada

Gold Partners
Bell MTS, James Richardson & Sons, Ltd.

Silver Partners
The Asper Foundation, Globe Capital Management, Mondetta, Winnipeg Free Press

Bronze Partners
Canada Life, Encore, Lionridge Capital Management Inc, TD Asset Management, Thompson Dorfman Sweatman, Volvo Cars Winnipeg, Wave Show Technologies

Premium Table Partners
CIBC, Conviron, Cushman & Wakefield | Stevenson, Lawton Partners, Legacy Bowes / TIPI Group of Companies, MLT Aikins LLP, Neptune Properties Inc., People Corporation, Pitblado LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Rogers Communications, Shelter Canadian Properties Ltd., Taylor McCaffrey LLP, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth

Concierge Service
Matt Sarmatiuk and his fantastic team at Volvo Cars Winnipeg

Desautels Faculty of Music, University of Manitoba
Raffi Rosenberg

IDEA Committee
Arni Thorsteinson, Chair
Paul Soubry (Vice Chair), Bill Baines, James Cohen, Carly Edmundson, Susan Feldman, Seth Henoch, Debra Jonasson-Young, John Kearsey, Paul Lacap, Rick MacKay, Ash Modha, John Proven, Colin Ryan, Bruno Silvestre, Andrew Stibbard, AnnaMaria Toppazzini, Geeta Tucker, Rob Vanderhooft, Gordon Webster, Rick Workman

University of Manitoba President, Michael Benarroch

President’s Office, University of Manitoba
Holly Campbell, Lisa Chase, Lisa Wolfe-Ulrich

External Relations Office, University of Manitoba
Crystal Goodick, John Kearsey, Vanessa Koldingnes, Paul Lacap, Stephanie Levine, Chris Rutkowski, Melyssa Ward, Stacy Wyatt

Asper School of Business
Dean Bruno Silvestre, Dallas Hull, Rhiannon Leier Blacher, Lana Vanderpont

Premier of Manitoba, Hon. Heather Stefanson

Special Friend of Dr. Rady, Hon. Richard Kroft

Chief Justice, Hon. Richard Chartier

Chief of Protocol, Brad Robertson

Commerce Student Association President, Connor Egan

Commerce Student Association Volunteers
Lindsey Hopkins, Keerat Jaura, Justin Li, Betty Mae Ferrer, Kimberly Nicolasora, Tessa Robert-Betzold, Teeson Thompson, Lisa Wang

University of Manitoba Business School Foundation
Peirce Dickson, Phaedra Propp, Bailey Smith, AnnaMaria Toppazzini

Special thanks to the Rady Family
Dr. Ernest Rady, Evelyne Rady and Julie Jessie, Special Assistant

IDEA 2021 Media Release

Financial entrepreneur and philanthropist Dr. Ernest Rady announced as 2021 IDEA recipient

November 17, 2021

The Associates of the I.H. Asper School of Business at the University of Manitoba have announced Dr. Ernest Rady, Winnipeg-born international entrepreneur, business leader, and philanthropist, as the recipient of the 2021 International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award.

Arni Thorsteinson, Chair of the IDEA Committee and President of Shelter Canadian Properties Limited, said: “The Associates, in conjunction with the University of Manitoba, are honoured to recognize Ernest Rady for his entrepreneurial achievement and extensive and generous philanthropy in the United States and Canada. Since graduation from the University of Manitoba in 1958, he has founded and managed several successful private and publicly-traded corporations. In addition, his ‘home town’ of Winnipeg has been only one of the many beneficiaries of his financial support and community commitment.”

Dr. Ernest Rady [BComm/58, LLB/62, LLD/15] was born and raised in Winnipeg and earned degrees in commerce and law at the University of Manitoba. An exceptional student, he received both the Law Society Award for Academic Achievement in Law and the University Gold Medal in Commerce. In 1966, he and his family moved to San Diego, California and he became an American citizen in 2005.

Dr. Rady is Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of American Assets Trust (AAT), a publicly traded real estate investment trust with a market value of approximately USD $4B. In 1972, he founded Insurance Company of the West, now part of ICW Group Holdings, a high growth multi-line property and casualty carrier with approximately USD $3.6B in assets. While currently CEO of AAT and Executive Chairman of both companies, Dr. Rady also founded and was Chairman and CEO of Westcorp, a NYSE traded financial services company, which was sold to Wachovia Corporation in 2006 and is now part of Wells Fargo.

Throughout his life, Dr. Rady has been passionate about supporting important causes. His significant philanthropic and volunteer work has been focused on education, the health and well-being of children, and scientific research. His charitable donations and beneficiaries include Rady Children’s Hospital, the UCSD Rady School of Management, and The Salvation Army.

Of most significance for Manitobans, in 2016 Ernest and Evelyn Rady bestowed a $30 million transformative gift to the University of Manitoba as part of its Front and Centre Campaign that will bolster teaching, learning and research in health sciences for generations. The University of Manitoba renamed its health sciences faculty the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences to honour the memory of Dr. Rady’s parents, Rose Rady and Dr. Maxwell Rady [MD/1921], and UM doctors now graduate from the Max Rady College of Medicine.

As an active leader in his community, Dr. Rady’s volunteer efforts include serving as the Chairman of the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego and as a Trustee of the Salk Institute for Biological Science. Additionally, Dr. Rady is past Chairman and Treasurer of the Children’s Hospital and Health Center of San Diego.

University of Manitoba President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Michael Benarroch noted: “As a business leader and philanthropist, Dr. Ernest Rady’s legacy at UM, throughout this province and globally, is simply astounding. We are truly grateful to have this opportunity to honour him for his remarkable investments in the future of medicine through the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences as well as his many other immeasurable contributions.”

University of Manitoba President Emeritus Dr. David Barnard noted: “We are thrilled that Dr. Rady chose to invest in his home province through the University of Manitoba. It is wonderful to understand that this gift both honours his parents and invests in the future of health care in Manitoba and around the world. The Rady Faculty of Health Sciences is a cornerstone of medical education in Manitoba, and an institution that will be making its mark and presence known for many years to come.”

Since 1984, the Associates of the Asper School of Business have presented the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award to outstanding entrepreneurs who have made exemplary contributions to global economic life.

“Our longtime partnership with the University of Manitoba Business School Foundation and the Asper School of Business is founded on our shared values and inspired by the tremendous role they play in championing academic and community excellence both here in Canada and across the globe,” shared Kim Ulmer, RBC Regional President. “This year’s IDEA Gala honouree, a former graduate of the Asper School of Business, is a mirror to those extraordinary standards of excellence. We are delighted to acknowledge one of Winnipeg’s giants of business and philanthropy and welcome home Dr. Ernest Rady who has cast a long shadow across the world through both his entrepreneurial and giving spirit.”

Dr. Ernest Rady joins previous distinguished IDEA recipients including Sir Richard Branson, Stu Clark, Paul Desmarais Sr., David Foster, A. Linda Hasenfratz, Akio Morita, Ross Perot, Heather Reisman & Gerald Schwartz, Dame Anita Roddick, David Thomson, Prem Watsa, Arianna Huffington, and the 2019 recipient, Dr. Hartley Richardson.

“The University of Manitoba and its namesake province hold special significance for me,” said Dr. Ernest Rady. “It’s where my father put himself through medical school so he could make a positive impact on his community, and where so many of my family and friends have made or launched their futures. To be celebrated for a lifetime of achievement is a humbling experience; to be celebrated by the people and the place where you first nurtured your dreams is even more meaningful. I am honoured to be named as the 2021 recipient of the International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award and look forward to returning to Winnipeg to share this special day with the community that has meant so much to me and my family.”

Dr. Ernest Rady will be presented with the award at the 2021 IDEA dinner tonight, November 17, 2021, in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre.

As part of the evening program, Dr. Rady will be invested in the Order of Manitoba. 

Dr. Ernest S. Rady BComm, LLB, LLD Trustee, Rady Family Foundation

Winnipeg-born entrepreneur Ernest S. Rady [BComm/58, LLB/62] is founder, chair, president, and chief executive officer of American Assets Trust, a publicly traded real estate investment trust he has astutely grown to a value of approximately $4 billion USD. In San Diego, his home since the mid-1960s, Dr. Rady also founded Insurance Company of the West—now part of ICW Group Holdings—and Westcorp, a public financial services company that eventually became part of Wells Fargo. He is Director, Chairman and former President of the Insurance Company of the West, he was a member of the board of directors of Wachovia, and has been affiliated with a series of sector-leading Canadian companies including Summit Resources, Silpit Industries, Canadian Sportswear, Olympic Sportswear, Keystone Resources, Ltd., and Canpac Enterprises, Ltd.

Dr. Rady has inspired phenomenal success in his entrepreneurial ventures through a combination of intelligence, zeal, sharp instincts and hard work. In 2009 Ernst & Young named him Financial Services Entrepreneur of the Year and presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Dr. Rady’s business prowess is matched only by his capacity for giving back. Throughout his distinguished career, he and his wife Evelyn have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to philanthropic causes, establishing a business school and university residences, revitalizing a children’s hospital, and building shelters for the homeless. In 2016, through the Rady Family Foundation, he donated $30 million to the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Health Sciences, which now proudly bears his and his father’s name, as the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences.

Dr. Rady earned the title of “San Diego Person of the Year” in 2014 and received an honorary Doctor of Laws from the University of Manitoba in 2015.

Read the Free Press article on Dr. Ernest Rady here.
Watch an important message from Dr. Ernest Rady here.

Partnership opportunities for IDEA 2022 are open. Please contact the office at 204.981.4880 to learn more.

Limited seating. Buy early to reserve your spot!

IDEA 2018 Recipients

L to R: Hartley T. Richardson, Dr. Gady Jacoby, Tony Quach, Arni Thorsteinson, Colin Ryan, Andrew Stibbard

On May 23, 2019, Dr. Hartley T. Richardson, President & CEO of James Richardson & Sons Ltd. was honoured as the 2019 International Distinguished Entrepreneur Award (IDEA) recipient.

A record 1500 + guests celebrated his lifetime of entrepreneurial achievements. Hartley presented a most triumphant and moving story of his journey which included the history of philanthropy in his family. His parting advice to all guests: Enjoy the rise and work hard to climb the mountain of life. Attitude is key as you face life’s challenges and it is how you react to those challenges that will help you ultimately reach your personal summit.

Family, friends and fellow U of M alumni surprised Dr. Richardson with the unveiling of the Hartley T. Richardson Student Support Fund, which raised $3.5 million. The fund was established in honour of Dr. Richardson’s commitment to youth and education. This fund will create life-changing opportunities for students with limited financial means to obtain a world-class business education at the Asper School of Business.

IDEA concluded with a surprise performance by the IDEA All-Star Band featuring James Cohen, Peter Jessiman, Mark Chipman, Ron Paley, and lead vocalist of Jefferson Starship and close friend of Hartley, Mickey Thomas. The finale included Hartley being called up to join in the singing of Starship’s classic “We Built this City,” as photos flashed across the screens showcasing our great City of Winnipeg and the impact that Hartley and his family have had on it.


Thank you to all who attended IDEA 2019.



Asper School of Business Medallion

Story of The Medallion

Awarded first in 1984, IDEA recognizes international entrepreneurial excellence. Recipients are presented with a custom IDEA gold medallion from the Royal Canadian Mint at Manitoba’s “Dinner of the Year”. The dinner is hosted by the Associates whose tremendous efforts and influence ensure IDEA achieves increasing success by celebrating extraordinary recipients. IDEA continues to generate international awareness for the University of Manitoba and the I.H. Asper School of Business.


Past IDEA Recipients

David Thomson

Ernest Rady
Founder, President & CEO
American Assets Trust

Hartley Richardson

Hartley T. Richardson
President & CEO
James Richardson & Sons, Limited

Arianna Huffington

Arianna Huffington
CEO & Founder, Thrive Global
Founder, The Huffington Post

David Foster

David Foster
Chairman & Founder
David Foster Foundation