Tony Conte takes on number of supporting roles in 10-year career at Ryerson
June 20, 2012
Sri Pathmanathan, employment equity assistant in Human Resources, described Tony Conte as “the jewel in Ryerson’s crown.”
Conte is the director of the Office of Vice Provost, Students (OVPS) and acts as the university’s “air traffic controller” handling student concerns and issues as they come up. Student complaints about experience in general, issues that fall between policies and service, and students who feel the system has failed them in some way are examples of matters Conte manages. He’s been at Ryerson for 10 years working in a variety of roles that have always come back to supporting students in one way or another.
“I find I’m a listening post, a guidance counsellor for the university,” Conte said. “The job is very busy. Our professional lives all tie back to the students. Sometimes it’s overwhelming [but] the best thing about the Office of Vice Provost, Students is we seek that interaction with students. We want to be at the frontline with them.”
Conte began at Ryerson in the Office of Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Services before moving to Student Services and Human Resources. He was the manager and helped launch the Student Information and Advising Centre in Jorgenson Hall, which was a natural transition to being director of the OVPS. Each role in his career carried increased responsibility. Conte’s presence at Ryerson reached a zenith in April 2012 when he was awarded the first President's Blue & Gold Award of Excellence, which celebrates people who enrich Ryerson by providing services, participating in or leading teams and/or demonstrating the university's values.
“Being nominated for the Blue & Gold award was overwhelming for me,” Conte said. “Receiving the award was significant to me. I need to hold myself accountable and know in some way I’ve contributed, I’ve made a small difference.”
In addition to Pathmanathan, Heather Lane Vetere, vice provost, students, also nominated Conte. She wrote, “Tony has a unique approach to his work based on his understanding of people, his ability to connect with people and his ability to coach the best out of his students, staff and colleagues. He has a rare ability to garner trust quickly and completely. I could not do my job without his assistance and support.”
Despite working here for 10 years, Conte performs each role with such fervour it’s as if it’s his first day and he needs to make a good impression. He continues to be nervous about doing a good job, he says, but doesn’t mind because it motivates him to stay on his toes.
“I’ve learned a lot,” he said. “Relationships and people are our most valuable resource at Ryerson. It is the people at this university who make it what it is. And that’s been reaffirmed to me in countless ways. We’re all leaders and I believe everyone in their role has the potential to be a leader.”