Duke, Fishers honoured by Memorial's business faculty


Nora Duke, left, and John and Peggy Fisher took
home awards from Partners on May 8.

May 9, 2014

Prominent business leaders Nora Duke and John and Peggy Fisher took home prestigious awards from Memorial University’s business faculty last night.

Ms. Duke, president and chief executive officer of Fortis Properties Corporation in St. John’s, received the 2014 Alumni Honour Award from the Faculty of Business Administration at its annual Partners Celebration, May 8 at the Sheraton Hotel Newfoundland. The Fishers, owners of Fishers’ Loft in Port Rexton, Trinity Bay, won the Gardiner Centre 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

"This recognition is quite special to me," says Ms. Duke. “The Faculty of Business Administration at Memorial University has consistently delivered a strong, relevant business program and it is from this foundation that I embarked on a very fulfilling and enjoyable career and professional journey."

Ms. Duke has worked with the Fortis Group of Companies for 28 years in a variety of senior leadership and executive positions, and currently is responsible for the company’s two operating divisions: commercial real estate and hotels. She is also an active volunteer and was appointed to the board of directors for the Canadian Tourism Commission in 2014. She also serves on the boards of the Hotel Association of Canada, Newfoundland Power, the Health Care Foundation and the Genesis Group at Memorial University and is a member of the National Advisory Council for the Building Owners and Managers Association.

She was named one of Canada’s top 100 most powerful women by the Women’s Executive Network in 2010 and in 2013, was inducted into Atlantic Business Magazine’s Top 50 CEO Hall of Fame.

“It’s been said that success happens when you have a team of good people,” says Ms. Duke. “I’ve been fortunate to have been surrounded by wonderful people including dedicated employees, exceptional mentors and, most importantly, a supportive family. “

Ms. Duke is a graduate of the Faculty of Business Administration’s bachelor of commerce (honours) and master of business administration programs.

The Fishers opened Fishers’ Loft as a four-room bed and breakfast in 1997. Today, the inn has 33 rooms, a restaurant, an executive conference centre and an art gallery and has earned a 4.5-star Canada Select rating.

“We view business as primarily a social enterprise,” says John Fisher. “Economics count but only insofar as these enable us to access our markets, generously compensate our staff, provide the very best experience to our guests and invest in the community. This approach has driven the growth of Fishers' Loft in every one of its 18 years."

Strong supporters of the arts and literary communities, the Fishers have received numerous awards including Patron of the Arts Award from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council (2013). Fishers’ Loft was named one of the top 10 best affordable island hotels by Travel and Leisure magazine, one of the best places to stay in National Geographic’s Traveler Magazine, and has received the highest rating in the Where to Eat in Canada Guide.

John Fisher is also the author of the best-selling management guide, Money Isn’t Everything, and is a founder and board member of Business and Arts Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Fishers are known to use innovative management practices, creative marketing and community engagement in their business practices.

"We couldn't be more delighted that Memorial’s faculty of business, in recognizing Fishers' Loft, is throwing a spotlight on the small and medium enterprise sector. It is little known that there are just over a million of businesses like ours that employ 7.7 million Canadians and generate nearly half of the country's gross domestic product."

Partners is the Faculty of Business Administration’s annual celebration of the business community that brings together members of the faculty and business community as well as students and alumni to pay tribute to those who have achieved excellence in business while using their skills and expertise to contribute to their peers and communities.

“We’re pleased to be able to welcome Nora Duke and John and Peggy Fisher to the list of esteemed business leaders who have won our awards,” says Dr. Wilfred Zerbe, dean of the business faculty. “This year’s winners have clearly made an impact in their communities and, in addition to being visionary business leaders, are truly deserving of this recognition. Their success is an inspiration to us all.”

Susan White-MacPherson