Fresh from his MBA, Harold La ’88 joined the firm Capital Group in Singapore in the late nineties. On his third day of work, his colleague invited him for drinks, along with some other Canadians to help him feel at home. “When I arrived, there were Mark Shuper ’88 and Deborah Edwards ’88, my old friends from UTS.”
Harold and Mark ‘s friendship began in their UTS days, when Harold helped Mark overcome challenges with Grade 9 Biology, and continued when they both attended the Ivey HBA program.
Following their time in Singapore, Harold and Mark moved and were both working in finance in Hong Kong. Their connection deepened when Mark’s wife-to-be, Winnie, joined the Capital Group alongside Harold. Harold and Winnie have been colleagues for many years now, and coincidentally, Deborah Edwards, who was also living in Hong Kong, got to know Winnie independently and was the maid of honour at Mark and Winnie’s wedding.
“Our lives have intertwined as much out here frankly as they did back at UTS,” says Mark.
In 2012, Mark switched gears full-time from finance to lead his non-profit, The Sprouts Foundation, which operates school programs for underprivileged children in Hong Kong and Myanmar (when circumstances permit). “My mom, grandmother, aunt and mother-in-law were all teachers, so doing something in education and the community was always part of the plan.”
Mark’s passion for access to education also inspired him to lead the Class of 1988 Bursary project, which Harold generously supported. This project is credited with changing the face of class anniversary philanthropy at UTS by exceeding its ground-breaking $250,000 fundraising goal, and inspiring other classes to create similar projects. In recognition of his leadership, Mark received the 2016 UTS Heartwood Award.
Harold and Mark also generously supported the Building the Future campaign, and each will receive recognition in a classroom, side-by-side in our renewed building. Mark also lent his leadership to the campaign as a regional campaign volunteer. This November they were in Toronto within weeks of each other, and both enjoyed the opportunity to tour our renewed building.
While the beautiful new building looks more and more polished, Harold was most impressed with the new heating and ventilation system. “It’s not impressive to some, but it’s very impressive to me and Mark,” he quips, recalling the typical winter temperature of “hot and hotter” inside the old building. Mark adds diplomatically, “Students will have access to a building and facilities that Harold and I in our time could only dream of.”
Harold and Mark both agree UTS gave them the foundation for future success. Mark feels it’s about “being driven” – how at UTS, most minutes of every day, students are learning and getting challenged. “That’s why we were here at UTS. For six years straight, that leaves a lasting impact. You look for environments where you’re going to be driven because that brings out the best in you.”
As Mark and Harold prepare to celebrate the Lunar New Year, they look forward to many continued years of friendship and maintaining their connections with UTS.