Manoj Bhakthan

Morale booster reaps leadership award

February 25, 2010

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SFU’s annual staff achievement awards honour staffers’ exceptional personal and work-related accomplishments. Throughout this semester, SFU News will profile each of the 2009 winners, who will be recognized at SFU’s annual faculty and staff awards dinner March 10 at the Diamond Alumni Centre.

Manoj Bhakthan has a feel-good job: as associate director of financial aid and awards he’s responsible for administering student financial aid.

That includes handing out close to $12 million in bursaries, undergraduate scholarships and awards and work-study opportunities last year, plus confirming a further $47 million in student loan and grant funding.

Of course, he and his staff of 13 also hear students’ hardship stories.

"We listen and empathize with the unique challenges each student faces, and assist where possible," says Bhakthan, adding, "Hearing how they have excelled after receiving a scholarship or bursary really drives us."

Bhakthan’s positive attitude extends to his management practices. When he left his post as associate director, registrar and information services at the Surrey campus two years ago to head up financial aid and awards, he found a department in transition.

With staff changes through leaves, retirement and secondment, resource challenges, and the implementation of new business processes, he had to work closely with a group whose morale was wavering.

But Bhakthan’s collaborative management style and his constant support of staff spurred his nomination for the staff achievement award for leadership.

"Once he had his staff hired and his new team in place there was no stopping him," says one nominator. "His vision of putting students first was inspiring to all his staff who now follow his example. He truly is a great leader."

Says Bhakthan, "If you don’t have a great staff who supports you as much as you support them, you can’t do the things you need to do to move forward.

"Our staff makes me and our department look good."

To submit a nomination for the 2010 staff achievement awards, visit


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