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Business leader to be honoured at UWI gala in Toronto


Article by: By RON FANFAIR

There was a time when a career in policing was on Wes Hall’s radar.

“As a kid growing up in Jamaica, I just loved the way police officers carried themselves and the respect people had for them,” he said. “I told myself that I wanted to be like one of them because it was a very respectable career back in the day.”

When Hall migrated to Canada in 1985 at age 16 to join his father who was a factory worker, and found that his father was keen on him pursuing policing as a profession.

“I wanted to do that, but it was more to please him,” said Hall. “Yes, I had the aspiration when I was younger, but it kind of went away. When my dad reinforced it in my mind, I decided I would give it a shot.”

Hall – named after the former West Indies fast bowler Wes Hall who his father adored – applied to Toronto Police Service and did the physical readiness evaluation and other tests.

“For some reason, I really didn’t get as far as I thought and I decided to put that career on hold,” he said. “I planned to revisit it down the road, but I ended up going in another direction.”

Canada’s largest police service loss has been the business world’s gain.

Last November, Hall – who navigates high stakes boardroom battles as the founder and chief executive officer of Kingsdale Shareholder Services – was ranked 42nd in Canadian Business magazine’s Power 50 grading of the country’s most powerful business people.

The firm he launched 13 years ago has helped some of the business world’s highest-profile companies and activists through raucous shareholder disputes.

The highly successful and respected businessman and philanthropist will be presented with a vice-chancellor award at the seventh annual University of the West Indies (UWI) Toronto benefit gala on April 2.

“For me, this recognition says I have accomplished something,” said Hall. “It’s a validation of the hard work I have put in over the years.”

In his spacious office hangs a photo of his maternal grandmother and the tin shack he and 14 half-brothers and sisters were raised in that reminds Hall of a challenging life growing up in Golden Grove, Jamaica.

“I grew up in poverty and that photo keeps me grounded and is a constant reminder that I must not take everything that I have achieved for granted,” he said. “If you don’t play your cards right, you could very well end up where you started which is not a great place.”

Finishing high school in 1988, Hall rose from a junior mailroom clerk at one of Canada’s top business law firms to become a relationship manager at CIBC Mellon, business development and sales manager at Georgeson Canada where he saw the huge potential in advising on proxy wars and the founder of Kingsdale Shareholder Services that offers an array of specialized services, including strategic and defensive advisory, proxy solicitation, governance advisory and proxy analytics, information agent, depositary, communications, voting analytics, shareholder identification, asset reclamation/asset reunification and stakeholder surveys.

Inspired by people with balance in their lives and those who have overcome odds, Hall is extremely passionate about his career.

“I am privileged to be called upon to assist in transactions that reshape the landscape of corporate Canada,” he said. “I am honoured that some of the most successful business leaders turn to me for guidance in these matters.”

A shrewd and astute power broker, Hall shares the view that philanthropy is the best alternative investment.

He donated $1 million to the SickKids-Caribbean Initiative (SCI) to help build health care capacity in the region.

“I firmly believe that health care should be a right and not a privilege,” said Hall, a member of the SickKids Foundation board of directors since June 2013. “I have a sister in Jamaica with cancer and a cousin that succumbed to pancreatic cancer who had a choice of going to a hospital to find out why he was experiencing so much pain or using his meagre financial resources to feed himself. He chose the latter because he felt he would have wasted his money going to seek medical attention only to learn that there wasn’t anything seriously wrong with him. No one should have to face those choices.”

Hall is also passionate about education.

“Without education, it’s difficult to get out of poverty,” he said. “People with education can seize opportunities because they have the capacity to know how to take advantage.”

Last month, a documentary about Hall’s life premiered at the Toronto Black Film Festival.

Skeptical at first about pursuing the project because he cherishes his privacy, Hall relented after his family – his wife of 14 years and five children – approved the idea.