Ian Rose, founder of IBR Consulting Services and a humanitarian who helped build schools and orphanages in Africa and Central America, will graduate from SFU with a BA in history this summer.

Convocation, History

Successful business consultant and humanitarian returns to SFU for history degree

June 20, 2019
Ian Rose, founder of IBR Consulting Services and humanitarian

To say that Ian Rose has lived a vibrant and colourful life is an understatement. After spending a career working with some of the biggest organizations in the world, including the likes of NASA, Lockheed Martin, Johnson & Johnson and Intel, he went on to help build schools and orphanages for children in developing nations.

When he was diagnosed with an incurable neuromuscular disease six years ago, he didn’t let that stop him from coming back to Simon Fraser University to finish the degree he started in 1968. This summer, Rose will graduate with a BA in history, having achieved a near perfect 3.99 CGPA.

“I’ve always been interested in history,” says Rose, who is originally from England. “I was especially interested in the Middle East, and this was right around when ISIS came to the fore, so I was able to study the Islamic State and Britain’s impact on the Middle Eastern crisis.”

Rose started his management consulting business, IBR Consulting Services, in the 1980s and worked with many large organizations around the world, helping them improve their organizational culture and create better workplaces. He was even the guest speaker at NASA on the day John Glenn returned to space in 1998.

His last client was the United Nations and when that wrapped up, Rose turned his attention to what he saw as a more pressing matter: building schools and orphanages in West Africa and Central America.

“I saw the need on my business travels,” says Rose. “You meet a bunch of six-year-olds who’ve lived on the street, and afterwards you can’t go back to working on F-35 fighter jet contracts with Lockheed Martin anymore.”

Rose started small—his friend in Vancouver asked him for help in getting support for building an orphanage in Honduras, and it grew from there. Rose was able to get many of the schools on the North Shore involved in fundraising for milk and other supplies. He helped to build a number of schools and orphanages over the next 15 years, all of which are still operating today.

Rose’s dynamic career has given him perspective on the value of an arts degree and the skills that it affords students.

“It teaches the kind of flexible thinking that businesses are looking for,” says Rose. “It’s underrated in terms of its importance for the kind of careers people will have in the future.”