Former SFU soccer captain, Frode Strand-Nielsen is empowering female student-athletes and inspiring global perspectives with a $1-million gift to his alma mater.

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Global executive and SFU alumnus changes the game through diversity and inclusion

November 20, 2020
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Frode Strand-Nielsen.

Frode Strand-Nielsen (BA ’80) believes in the transformative power of Simon Fraser University. As the founder and manager of a top Northern European private equity firm who first honed his leadership skills as an international student athlete, Frode’s success is living proof. Now the former men’s soccer captain is empowering female student athletes and inspiring global perspectives with a $1-million gift to his alma mater.

Frode’s generous gift has established endowments to support varsity female athletes and invigorate the women’s soccer program. The investment will provide female student athletes with the resources they need to succeed on and off the field, enable SFU to attract top student athletes across the globe, and inspire high performance.

“The impact of Frode’s generosity is an absolute game-changer for our female athletes,” says Theresa Hanson, senior director of SFU Athletics and Recreation. “This gift will literally change lives and help us develop incredible female leaders.”

“I’m so grateful to Frode and the support he has provided our program,” added women’s soccer head coach Annie Hamel. “His generosity will broaden our recruiting opportunities and our ability to attract high level student athletes.”

As a compassionate business leader, Frode is committed to building stronger teams through diversity and inclusion. This commitment drives the culture in his company, FSN Capital, and has inspired his transformative gift to foster excellence and leadership in women’s athletics at SFU.

“I believe it’s a basic human right that we all have equal opportunity regardless of ethnicity, colour, religion, sexual preferences or gender,” Frode says during a recent interview from his office in Oslo, Norway. “The female athletes should have the same financial backing as the male athletes. That’s only fair, it’s only reasonable.”

Frode led scoring for the 1978 squad that set an SFU 20-win record which still stands. He was chosen “Scholar Athlete of the Year” by the North American Intercollegiate Association and was later inducted into the SFU Athletics Hall of Fame. Frode received an SFU Outstanding Alumni Award for Professional Achievement in 2017 for his exceptional contribution to local and global communities. He previously established SFU’s first $1-million athletic scholarship endowment in support of men’s soccer.

Frode’s commitments recognize inspiring leadership at SFU, with athletic awards made in honour of President Emeritus Andrew Petter and Maureen Maloney, SFU professor of public policy; international graduate student support in honour of President Emeritus George K. Pederson and international undergraduate student support in honour of James Dean, professor emeritus of economics who passed away in February 2019.

Frode says his experience on the field helped him learn how to manage conflict, overcome negative thinking, engage with diverse team members, and make his fellow players shine—skills that are vital to leadership in any environment. He describes his time at SFU as “life-transforming.”

“I was inspired by the ability to play my sport at a relatively high level but also by the faculty and the environment, the spirit of the university, and just the location,” he says.

“The extremely engaged faculty really brought out the best in me. So from being a straight C student in high school, I suddenly became a straight A student. There was something there that inspired me and energized me to work quite hard at school and then work quite hard in the practices with the soccer team. It was a perfect combination, and so giving back to that has been quite important and rewarding.”

Read the full story here.