University of Toronto

Innis Alumni & Friends

Rahul Bhardwaj

Class of 1987 – Innis

Innis Alumnus, Rahul Bhardwaj, has dedicated his career to the improvement of the city of Toronto. In his role as President & CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation, Rahul is committed to guiding those who wish to make philanthropic efforts within the community. 

In a few words, please outline your career path.

In my role as the President & CEO of the Toronto Community Foundation, I have been working to engage philanthropy to improve the quality of life in Toronto. I was formerly a corporate lawyer with a leading Canadian law firm and also Vice President of the Toronto 2008 Olympic Bid.

How does your former career as a corporate lawyer help you in your current role as President & CEO of the TCF?

In many ways my role at TCF can be seen as leading a social purpose business. My legal education and practical experience as a corporate lawyer provided me with the toolkit to succeed within this complex, multi stakeholder environment. From understanding governance, operations and finance, to strategy, communications and working in a regulated industry, the “law” provides a great foundation for leading an organization in the philanthropic sector.

Why are community foundations so important for cities like Toronto?

We provide important pathways for people to shape the city that shapes us, and make it everything we want it to be – smarter, healthier, more inclusive, more creative, more prosperous, more Toronto – the city we all want.

What would you like to see change or be improved in Toronto within the next 5 years?

There are no shortage of “issues” facing big cities, such as Toronto, and these include congested traffic, growing youth unemployment and income inequality. I would like to see Torontonians better leverage and integrate our many assets to address these issues. I would also like us to celebrate more of the good things that make this such a great city, and to create a sense of dynamism and optimism about our future.

What is the most important lesson you have learned during your career?

There are so many lessons that I have learned, but one that has stood the test of time is this: “attitude, not aptitude, gives altitude”. It is a reminder that being positive and constructive is very important to being a valued team player. You simply don’t get very far on your own.

What is your favourite memory from your time spent at Innis College?

I thoroughly enjoyed the comradery. I played for the College’s basketball team during my time at Innis. I met people from many different faculties who I would not have met if I had not got involved in activities at the College. Most importantly, I met my wife while I was at Innis College.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with current Innis students?

I’ll share some thoughts from a speech I gave at Convocation at the University of Toronto, last year:

“As graduates from such a great university, you have much more choice than most young people in the world. All I ask is that you make your city – and if it’s Toronto, so much the better – the centre of the world where you’ll make some of your life’s best things happen.”

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