Mixing STEM, arts and business to fuel future generations

Planned giving
Master of Business Administration
Wynn Quon portrait
Wynn Quon
When Wynn Quon (BSc ’82, MBA ’94) reminisces about arriving in Canada from the UK as a young child, he certainly remembers the cold and the record snowfalls, but books were also an important element that would later be key to his trajectory.

He read mainly about science and engineering, as his father suggested, but he would sneak in storybooks and fiction on the side. At the time, he never imagined that the two genres would eventually mix in his life. “It’s a weird kind of thing that happened to me. We think of STEM and the arts as two separate fields. You go into STEM or into arts or into business, but I found that in my career, I’ve melded these things together.” 

An interest in science eventually led him to computer science at the University of Ottawa, as well as a twenty-year career in the technology sector. During this time, Wynn Quon had never thought about management until one of his managers suggested that he consider a leadership position, leading him back to uOttawa for an MBA. “I found the MBA degree to be extremely helpful in my personal and work life as a foundation of knowledge and general management, a framework to think through day-to-day challenges. These are things I had no exposure to because of, again, the separation between STEM and business.”  

His early interest in storytelling re-emerged later: Wynn Quon became a short story writer and helped to run Improv Embassy, Ottawa’s improv theatre school. The school has a series of corporate workshops that tie into the MBA program he followed. “The key to improv is listening to who else is on stage with you, taking their ideas and building on them. They bring something to the stage and create a character, you accept the character and then you add your own.” He also mentions that it builds on skills. “You have to communicate and listen well. You have to take yourself not so seriously. These are all great management skills and when leaders learn improv, it can change the entire feeling of a work group or a team and make the workplace a lot more fun.” 

His initial interest in STEM led him to create a scholarship for students enrolled in software engineering, but Wynn Quon has also committed to a legacy gift that will be designated to several areas, including business, sciences and the Library. When asked why he contributes to uOttawa, he states: “I think it comes back to what the University has done for me. I certainly benefitted from it and I’m hoping I can pay that back by helping the next generation. And I hope that those people who receive something will also give back so there’s a cascade effect.” 

While future cohorts will benefit from Wynn Quon’s broad interests, it’s also his philosophy of giving back that will serve as an exemplary model and continue to be paid forward. “It’s the feeling you get from helping other people. It feels good. Money is sort of like rocket fuel. If you’re not using it to go somewhere, it just sits there. But when you ignite it and it’s on fire and things are happening, that’s when you get the real reward of giving. It is something you don’t feel until you do it. Give it a try. Look at what your interests are and what your history has been. Find something that resonates. Ignite!”

view University of Ottawa STEM Building from across the canal
Planned giving

“There are so many ways of donating to the University and seeing what comes out of that. How you give is only limited by your creativity.”

Wynn Quon

— (BSc ’82, MBA ’94)

Many University of Ottawa alumni have included a gift to the University and its students in their estate plans. It is important to inform the University of your intention as our planned giving team will be able to validate the designation of your future gift with you. To learn more about this type of philanthropic project, please contact us. Thank you for your support!