Student fund hero
Mah Noor Imtiaz, left, Amit Patel, top right, and Rylea Yanke.

June 2, 2023

Class of 2023: New grads land jobs and discover their passions thanks to UCalgary’s student-run investment fund

How the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund supports students for post-grad life

This spring, University of Calgary business grads will see their career dreams come true through support from the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund.

New graduates Mah Noor Imtiaz, Dr. Amit Patel and Rylea Yanke are among those who will be joining a thriving alumni community of changemakers dedicated to improving their communities and making the world a better place — and they are well equipped to do so thanks to taking part in this unique experiential learning opportunity.

The first of its kind in Western Canada, the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund is a philanthropically funded, student-managed private equity fund. As part of the fund’s cohort, students engage with entrepreneurs, evaluate business models, assess risk and allocate capital while developing a comprehensive understanding of the startup ecosystem.

Learning by doing

Mah Noor Imtiaz, B’Comm’23, BSc (Eng)’23, plans on becoming an engineer and using her professional expertise to transition to a venture capital role with a focus on clean energy.

“Being new to the world of venture capital made me very curious to learn how I could use it to make an impact as an engineering and business student,” says Imtiaz. “Going through this process, I learned that it’s a way of being able to provide financial investment to groundbreaking startups that you think have potential. It’s a great way to support disruptive ideas that can address big challenges.

“I liked that you need to do a lot of strategic thinking and problem solving. And I really valued being able to lead a deal this year — it required a lot of leadership and time-management skills.”

Career pathways

While the Haskayne Student Fund is a great way to learn about the innovation and startup landscape in Calgary and beyond, it also funnels students into new, exciting career opportunities.

“I learned so much,” says Dr. Amit Patel, DMD, MBA’23. “I went from somebody who had very little knowledge of how fundraising works for early-stage companies and ventures to now doing it as a full-time job.”

Patel now supports the management of UCeed funds as health fund manager with Innovate Calgary. “What I do is look for promising early-stage companies that are looking to get funding to further develop their business and select the ones that have the highest potential, then conduct due diligence,” says Patel.

“So, I look at their business strategy, their regulatory strategy, their intellectual property strategy, the leadership team, and the problems that they are trying to solve, and invest accordingly.

“I participated in the (Haskayne Student) Fund with the intention that venture capital would be my career and it worked out exactly as I’d hoped. I couldn’t ask for more out of that experience.”

Susan Anderson

Susan Anderson, CEO of Cannonball Capital

Lasting impact

Rylea Yanke, BA’18, MBA’23, JD’23, who is joining the law firm Burnet, Duckworth and Palmer as an articling student, is grateful for the transformative opportunity.

“I can’t thank the donors (who funded the program) enough because it allows students to experience the fund at its whole rather than as a simulation. There’s nothing cooler than sourcing companies, investigating them, pitching to them and offering them money,” she says.

“(The donors give) students the most unique opportunity to experience something that they would never be able to, and it just opens so many more career paths. I hope in the future I can give back to the university because this was just a great experience for me. I hope more students can experience it, too.”

For Susan Anderson, CEO of Cannonball Capital — whose foundation is the principal backer of the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund — seeing this cohort of students cross the convocation stage is particularly rewarding.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with the students on the UCeed Fund,” says Anderson, BComm’84. “The practical knowledge that students gain from the experience and the mentorship they receive is one that I wish I had as a student.”

About the UCeed Haskayne Student Fund

UCeed Haskayne Student Fund is supported by the generosity of the Cannonball Sport and Education Foundation, the Tamaratt Fund at Calgary Foundation, and other UCalgary donors wanting to make an impact.

UCeed is a venture philanthropy fund accelerating UCalgary and community-based startup companies to advance problem-solving research, create jobs and fuel the economy. A key program in the UCalgary innovation ecosystem, UCeed bridges the gap between innovation, demonstration and commercialization. UCeed is managed by UCalgary’s knowledge-transfer and business incubator, Innovate Calgary.  

Join our celebration as another class of enterprising University of Calgary students marks the milestone of graduation and begins making a difference in society, in fields such as health care, engineering, business and the arts. Spring Graduation and Convocation takes place May 29 to June 2, 2023. Learn more 

Read more inspiring stories about the accomplishments and journeys of the Class of 2023.

A note for soon-to-be UCalgary alumni: As you prepare to transition from student life, we encourage you to check out our Life Kit for Recent Grads — custom-built to inform you about the programs, benefits and services available to you as a member of the UCalgary alumni community.

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