Gift Provides $1.8 Million to Emerging Markets Institute

Gail and Roberto Cañizares ’71, MBA ’74 in front of a mountain range

Gail and Roberto Cañizares ’71, MBA ’74

A $1.8 million gift from Gail and Roberto Cañizares ’71, MBA ’74, will provide substantial support to the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. The gift augments the Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director for the Emerging Markets Institute fund, which the couple established with a $1.5 million gift in 2018. Their new gift will also establish the Emerging Markets Institute Fellows Case Writing Program pilot fund and the Cañizares Award for Distinguished Alumni in International Business and Emerging Markets.

“Rob and Gail’s incredible generosity and dedication to the Emerging Markets Institute and to Johnson are an inspiration to our entire community,” says Mark W. Nelson, Anne and Elmer Lindseth Dean of the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management.

“We all also benefit enormously from Rob’s insight as a key advisor to the institute, our school, and our college. It is entirely fitting that future outstanding alumni working in international business and emerging markets will be recognized with the Cañizares Award.”

This gift also contributes to the SC Johnson College’s capital campaign initiatives. Its $1.6 million endowment component will be matched, one-to-three, by challenge funds from H. Fisk Johnson ’79, MEng ’80, MS ’82, MBA ’84, PhD ’86, and the SC Johnson company—part of their gift to name the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business in 2017.

The new gift will make a tremendous impact on several key areas within the institute, including its operations and strategic initiatives.

Rob Cañizares speaking
Rob Cañizares speaking after receiving the Carlos R. Quintanilla Distinguished Latino Alumni Award in 2016

“Lourdes Casanova, EMI’s director, has been an amazing, dynamic, energetic, and motivating leader,” Rob Cañizares says. “She has been able to engage lots of students as volunteers to help EMI accomplish a lot. But the reality is that resources are strained because the EMI has become so popular with students. So, it is really important to ensure that the EMI is sustainable by providing resources to make its work viable for the long term.”

Beyond supporting the addition of dedicated staff, the new gift will also expand experiential learning opportunities for students through the Emerging Markets Institute Fellows Case Writing Program pilot fund.

Students in the program will travel to experience work in emerging markets, says Cañizares. “They will actually live a case. You go. You do a project in a developing country or an emerging economy, and then you come back and write about it.”

This accomplishes two things, he says. “It allows students to learn experientially, while it also creates new, fresh, practical material from which other students can learn going forward. This will build a library of case studies that add to the teaching materials for engaging, teaching, and training new and future EMI students.”

Acknowledging outstanding alumni achievement in emerging markets is another component of the new gift—one that will enhance and reinforce the college’s and the institute’s global reach. The idea for the Cañizares Award for Distinguished Alumni in International Business and Emerging Markets was conceived by the Cañizares’ son, Juan Andrés “Andy” Cañizares, MBA ’09.

“There are people like Andy—like us, like many others—who have for many years devoted their careers to developing and building businesses in and around the world,” says Cañizares. “This allows the EMI to reach back beyond the institute’s 10 years of existence and recognize people who more than 10 years ago launched their business careers in emerging markets and are outstanding examples to inspire younger generations.”

Cañizares successfully built and transformed businesses around the world for more than two decades. During his tenure as president of MSA International, he tripled the company’s international business during his tenure there. Earlier, as head of air conditioning company Trane in Asia, that company’s business grew ten-fold.

group photo with rob and gail cañizares
From left to right: Lourdes S. Casanova, Rob Cañizares, Gail Cañizares, and Babatunde Ayanfodun in 2016

Cañizares is also one of EMI’s earliest champions. He has endowed a significant number of funds and efforts that enhance the impact of the institute and ensure its future. These contributions have supported the institute’s directorship, faculty research, overseas summer internships, and support for students to participate in international case competitions.

This gift is yet another example of the Cañizares’ continued advocacy and commitment to EMI’s work in emerging markets and emerging market multinationals, says Lourdes Casanova, senior lecturer and the Gail and Roberto Cañizares Director of EMI.

“Gail and Rob Cañizares have been a source of inspiration for EMI fellows and MBAs,” says Casanova. “Their generosity and commitment to Cornell have been essential for EMI’s success and will continue to drive the institute to the next level of excellence.”

“I am grateful for their support and guidance to help position EMI as a world-leading knowledge center on emerging markets in the 21st century and to continue building bridges and encouraging dialogue.”

Cañizares continues to devote time to the strategic development of EMI and the college at large. In addition to serving on the SC Johnson College of Business Leadership Council, Cañizares is a member of the Johnson Advisory Council and the EMI Advisory Group. He was also instrumental in his contributions to the EMI Second Decade Task Force in 2020.

emi advisory group photo
Rob Cañizares with the EMI Advisory Group at the Cornell Tech campus on Roosevelt Island in 2018

His work and contributions to EMI are strongly connected to the Cornell philosophy of doing the greatest good.

“As an executive in emerging markets, where volatility and unpredictability have been the norm, you have the assignment of making the business successful, profitable, and sustainable, just like anywhere else,” Cañizares says.

“But also remember that business leaders everywhere are an essential engine of human progress. Without leaders like us, the changes that have dramatically improved the health and wealth of a majority of the world population would not have occurred—and much less in emerging markets!”

The college’s emphasis on preparing leaders for emerging markets also contributes to improving the lives of individuals and the institutions they’re reliant on, he adds.

“What I find really amazing and rewarding, and I like to point out to the EMI fellows,” he says, “is to discover that all the effort and hard work you put in to be successful in business, also makes an invaluable contribution to the training, learning, and development of many fellow humans in the organizations you lead.”

At a time when inequality and sustainability challenge the established order, how wonderful to know that our work can help improve the lives of many, especially in emerging markets, Cañizares says. “And that is exactly doing the greatest good.”

Both Rob and Gail Cañizares are very grateful, too, for their own Cornell experiences.

“We met at Cornell in a French class,” Gail says, “so we owe a great debt to Cornell.”

About the Emerging Markets Institute
Established in 2010 by the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, the Emerging Markets Institute (EMI) at the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business provides thought leadership on the role of emerging markets—and emerging market multinationals—in the global economy. EMI is a premier research center that prepares and supports business leaders by empowering them to become experts in issues related to emerging multinationals, innovation, and corporate social responsibility in emerging markets.