- Co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer, Stellation Asset Management, Toronto
Reza Satchu is a big believer in taking risks, putting himself in challenging situations and creating his own opportunities.
"One of my big mottos is: Always seek positions of discomfort," says the entrepreneur and founder of Stellation Asset Management LLC, a global equity hedge fund.
Nothing has come easy for Mr. Satchu, who emigrated from Kenya to Scarborough, Ont., with his family as a child. But he appreciates that his parents, Rustom and Zarina, encouraged risk-taking and fostered high expectations in their children at an early age. "They showed me that taking risks in a calculated way is a smart thing to do."
After high school he headed to McGill University to become a doctor, a "typical Indian family" thing to do, he says. But he realized that he gravitated toward capitalizing on opportunities and switched to economics, graduating in 1991.
Seeking greater challenges, he headed to Wall Street and landed a job at Merrill Lynch & Co. as a financial analyst.
But he realized he wasn't interested in the corporate side of business. "I wanted to be someone who was actually creating something."
He then went to Harvard Business School, earning his MBA in 1996. From there, his career took a number of risky, and highly profitable, turns. He was a managing director at Fenway Partners in New York, a private equity investment firm that bought and sold underperforming companies.
In 1999, he and his brother, Asif, created SupplierMarket, a procurement software company that sold products to Fortune 500 companies; two years later, they sold the company for $925-million.
Mr. Satchu and his wife, Marian Annau, started a family and decided to move back to Toronto (they now have three children, six-year-old Talia and four-year-old twins, Alyana and Nikhil).
In 2002, Mr. Satchu and his brother established a second business, StorageNow Holdings, which became Canada's second-largest storage company; last year, they sold it for $110-million.
His launched his latest project, Stellation, in 2005. The highly successful hedge fund company was ranked by UBS as one of the top global equity long/short hedge fund of funds for 2007 and includes investors from the world's largest private equity funds, including Citibank.
Although Mr. Satchu says Stellation combines all of his previous talents and ambitions into something he finds satisfying, he has also set his sights on another challenge: developing the entrepreneurs of the future.
To that end, he created a class in "economics of entrepreneurship" at University of Toronto's economics department.
He and his family knocked on the school's door and pitched the idea of a class funded, taught and administered by Mr. Satchu. He isn't paid for his teaching, and every year gives the top student in the class a $5,000 scholarship.
True to his nature, the class is highly competitive and forces students to think on their feet, but has been rated by students as a top arts and science course for four years running. "It's highly uncomfortable," he says, "but guess what? You learn the most when you are uncomfortable."
Special to The Globe and Mail