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From left: Lourdes Casanova, senior lecturer and the Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director of the Emerging Markets Institute; Roberto Cañizares ’71, MBA ’74, Gail Cañizares; and Babatunde Ayanfodun in 2016. 

$1.8M gift supports the Emerging Markets Institute

A $1.8 million gift from Gail and Roberto Cañizares ’71, MBA ’74, will provide substantial support to the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business.

The gift augments the Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director for the Emerging Markets Institute fund, which the couple established with a $1.5 million gift in 2018. Their new gift will also establish the Emerging Markets Institute Fellows Case Writing Program pilot fund and the Cañizares Award for Distinguished Alumni in International Business and Emerging Markets.

“Rob and Gail’s incredible generosity and dedication to the Emerging Markets Institute and to Johnson are an inspiration to our entire community,” said Mark W. Nelson, the Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

“We all also benefit enormously from Rob’s insight as a key adviser to the institute, our school and our college. It is entirely fitting that future outstanding alumni working in international business and emerging markets will be recognized with the Cañizares Award.”

This gift also contributes to the SC Johnson College’s capital campaign initiatives. Its $1.6 million endowment component will be matched, one-to-three, by challenge funds from H. Fisk Johnson ’79, M.Eng. ’80, M.S. ’82, MBA ’84, Ph.D. ’86, and the SC Johnson company – part of their gift to name the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business in 2017.

The new gift will make a tremendous impact on several key areas within the institute, including its operations and strategic initiatives.

“Lourdes Casanova, EMI’s director, has been an amazing, dynamic, energetic and motivating leader,” Rob Cañizares said. “She has been able to engage lots of students as volunteers to help EMI accomplish a lot. But resources are strained because of EMI’s popularity among students. So, it is really important to ensure that the EMI is sustainable by providing resources to make its work viable for the long term.”

Beyond supporting the addition of dedicated staff, the new gift will also expand experiential learning opportunities for students through the Emerging Markets Institute Fellows Case Writing Program pilot fund.

Students in the program will travel to experience work in emerging markets, Cañizares said. “They will actually live a case. You go. You do a project in a developing country or an emerging economy, and then you come back and write about it.”

This accomplishes two things, he said. “It allows students to learn experientially, while it also creates new, fresh, practical material from which other students can learn going forward. This will build a library of case studies that add to the teaching materials for engaging, teaching, and training new and future EMI students.”

Acknowledging outstanding alumni achievement in emerging markets is another component of the new gift – one that will enhance and reinforce the college’s and the institute’s global reach. The idea for the Cañizares Award for Distinguished Alumni in International Business and Emerging Markets was conceived by the Cañizares’ son, Juan Andrés “Andy” Cañizares, MBA ’09.

“There are people like Andy – like us, like many others – who have for many years devoted their careers to developing and building businesses in and around the world,” Cañizares said. “This allows the EMI to reach back beyond the institute’s 10 years of existence and recognize people who more than 10 years ago launched their business careers in emerging markets and are outstanding examples to inspire younger generations.”

Cañizares successfully built and transformed businesses around the world for more than two decades, including MSA International and the Asian air conditioning company Trane.

One of EMI’s earliest champions, Cañizares has endowed a significant number of funds and efforts supporting the institute’s directorship, faculty research, overseas summer internships and student participation in international case competitions.

“Gail and Rob Cañizares have been a source of inspiration for EMI fellows and MBAs,” said Lourdes Casanova, senior lecturer and the Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director of EMI. “Their generosity and commitment to Cornell have been essential for EMI’s success and will continue to drive the institute to the next level of excellence.

“I am grateful for their support and guidance to help position EMI as a world-leading knowledge center on emerging markets in the 21st century and to continue building bridges and encouraging dialogue,” Casanova said.

In addition to serving on the SC Johnson College of Business Leadership Council, Cañizares is a member of the Johnson Advisory Council and the EMI Advisory Group. He was also instrumental in his contributions to the EMI Second Decade Task Force in 2020.

“Business leaders everywhere are an essential engine of human progress,” Cañizares said. “Without leaders like us, the changes that have dramatically improved the health and wealth of a majority of the world population would not have occurred – and much less in emerging markets.”

The college’s emphasis on preparing leaders for emerging markets also contributes to improving the lives of individuals and the institutions they’re reliant on, he added.

“What I find really amazing and rewarding, and I like to point out to the EMI fellows,” he said, “is to discover that all the effort and hard work you put in to be successful in business, also makes an invaluable contribution to the training, learning, and development of many fellow humans in the organizations you lead.”

Read more on BusinessFeed, the news hub of the SC Johnson College of Business.

Kaitlyn Ruhf is a digital communications manager at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. 

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Abby Butler