Media Releases

Rotman Lifetime Achievement Award Presented to BMO’s William Downe

October 18, 2017

Toronto, ON – William Downe, a graduate of the MBA program at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, will be honoured today at the Rotman Alumni Awards Dinner with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Downe is Chief Executive Officer of BMO Financial Group.

He receives the award in recognition of his outstanding commitment to enhancing diversity and inclusion in corporate Canada, his steadfast support of education and healthcare, and his leadership of Canada’s first bank and bold expansion of its U.S. presence.

“Bill Downe is an inspiring leader whose support of research and education is an incredible asset not only to the Rotman School and the University of Toronto, but also to Canadian society,” says Tiff Macklem, Dean of the Rotman School.

Downe joined Bank of Montreal in 1983 and held a variety of senior management positions in Canada and the U.S. In 1999, he was appointed Vice-Chair, Bank of Montreal and in 2001, he was named Deputy Chair, BMO Financial Group & Chief Executive Officer, BMO Nesbitt Burns. In 2006, he was appointed Chief Operating Officer of BMO Financial Group. He was appointed CEO on March 1, 2007.

Downe is a director of ManpowerGroup Inc., Catalyst Inc., the Business Council of Canada and serves on the Board of Trustees for the Rush University Medical Center. He is an advisory board member of the Rotman School of Management Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) at the University of Toronto, and a member of the Economic Club of Chicago. He served on the board of the International Monetary Conference (IMC) as well as on the National Executive Committee of the 2015 Governor General Canadian Leadership Conference, and is Past President of the Federal Reserve Board’s Federal Advisory Council.

Downe is a member of the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation Board, a member of the Executive Committee, and a member of the Campaign Cabinet. He is also a member of the campaign executive for The Campaign for the University of Toronto. Downe served as Chairman of the 2009 Campaign Cabinet for United Way of Greater Toronto, and is also past Chair of the Board of Directors of St. Michael’s Hospital.

Downe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Toronto. He has also received an Honorary Doctor of Laws from the Lazaridis School of Business and Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. Downe was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada and was recognized by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Canada Institute, receiving the Award for Corporate Citizenship.

Speakers at the Awards Dinner will include John Cassaday, Corporate Director and Founding CEO of Corus Entertainment, Deborah Gillis, President & CEO, Catalyst, Rose Patten, adjunct professor and Special Advisor, BMO Financial Group, Robert Prichard, Chairman, Torys LLP, John Tory, Mayor of Toronto, and Mark Wiseman, Global Head of Active Equities & Chairman, BlackRock Alternative Investors. Tiff Macklem, Dean, Rotman School of Management, will host the evening. Richard Nesbitt adjunct professor and President & CEO of the Global Risk Institute and Joanna Rotenberg, Group Head, BMO Wealth Management, are emcees for the evening.

The Rotman Lifetime Achievement Award was established last year by the Rotman School and is presented at the Rotman Alumni Awards Dinner, an annual celebration established to pay tribute to exceptional alumni who have contributed significantly to their organizations and communities. The black-tie gala kicks off the Reunite@Rotman homecoming weekend, bringing together the School’s global alumni community.

Reunite@Rotman is the School’s premiere alumni event and runs October 20 to 21. For more information on the Rotman Alumni Awards Dinner or to register for the homecoming weekend, visit

The Rotman School of Management is located in the heart of Canada’s commercial and cultural capital and is part of the University of Toronto, one of the world’s top 20 research universities. The Rotman School fosters a new way to think that enables our graduates to tackle today’s global business and societal challenges.  For more information, visit


For more information:

Ken McGuffin
Manager, Media Relations
Rotman School of Management
University of Toronto
Tel: 416-946-3818