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Laurier Grads Soar - Mike McKenna
Laurier Grads Soar is a nine-part series that features former Wilfrid Laurier University varsity athletes and student-leaders in the Athletics and Recreation Department and the success they have enjoyed since leaving Laurier. Written by award-winning journalist David Grossman, a different feature will be released each week over a nine-week span that will emphasize the role Athletics and Recreation played in helping them achieve success.

Mike McKenna - Former Director, Telecom, Media and Technology Investment Banking


There are constants that one can count on in a fast-changing world and Mike McKenna knows all about them – especially the kind of impact some can have on an individual.

Having experienced his share of ups and downs, McKenna is using his solid academic background, combined with experience in the business and community sectors to get involved in EMPWR - a charitable foundation, one that he and his wife launched, that draws awareness to concussion recovery.

“Injuries can often happen when people participate in contact sports,” said McKenna, who admitted to experiencing several concussions in his days of playing sports.  “That shouldn’t mean, for example, that young people should stop participating in physical athletic activities and stick to only playing computer games.

“There is a vast amount of medical knowledge that helps with education, awareness and, yes, people do recover from concussions.”

Having earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Kinesiology and Physical Education at Laurier, McKenna later obtained his Masters (MBA) from the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. 

“Looking back at my days at Laurier – just an awesome opportunity in my life that I will never forget,” he said. “I was this young kid from Wolfe Island near Kingston trying to figure out was next for me after high school and got attracted to the PhysEd academic program. Turns out, it had a huge impact on me and with it came volunteering in the Athletics Department and then building a sports information function.”

McKenna points to Laurier as being his first huge step to success and, in appreciation to a former Professor, contributes financially to the Bill McTeer Award, the only scholarship given to a Laurier physical education student.

"There are students who, while at Laurier, choose to participate in varsity sports while others get involved in recreational and fitness programs,” said McKenna. “And then, there are others, like me, who get involved at Laurier in other ways with activities, sports promotion and sharing information about athletic events.”

For McKenna, practical knowledge came from a wealth of experience in marketing, his leadership role as Event Manager of three consecutive Canadian university football championships (Vanier Cup). At Scotiabank, with a decade of Global Investment Banking experience, he was Director of Telecom, Media and Technology investment banking.

Also a former Coordinator of Sports Information and Communications at Laurier, McKenna was involved in a Canadian university World Internship Program where he was responsible for Commercial Affairs for AFC Ajax NV, a Dutch soccer team in Amsterdam. 

McKenna had to step down from his position at Scotiabank because of a health issue that medical staff at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto were able to diagnose as Ankylosing spondylitis – an inflammatory disease and form of spinal arthritis.

His recovery appears to be well on track as McKenna took part, and completed, two half marathons in a span of three months. His time at the Beaches Jazz Run was one hour, 47.14 minutes while at the Scotiabank Waterfront Marathon he completed the race in 1:48.01.
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