This post is somewhat personal and written with sadness. Not long ago Dr. Sunny Marche passed away after a brave battle with pulmonary embolism.
Who was Dr. Sunny Marche? He was a husband, father and grandfather. He was also a leader, teacher and an educator.
I first met Sunny when I was completing my Master of E-Commerce at Dalhousie University in 2001. He instructed our Project Management class and he was one demanding and disciplined professor. I suspect this was in part due to his military background as Sunny graduated from Royal Military College in Kingston and also served our country.
Students came to his class because he was one of the best speakers, he was prepared and he actively engaged his students. He encouraged dialogue, discussion and debate. He challenged students, had a dry wit and did not suffer fools gladly. Like it or not you knew where you stood with Sunny.
There is a saying "Those who can't do, teach." However, Sunny successfully worked in the business world so he wasn't "just an academic" in a pejorative sense. He brought the best of both worlds which sadly isn't often the case in academia these days.
Once I had completed the classes, I had to complete my thesis and needed to select a thesis supervisor. After careful deliberation I asked Sunny to serve as mine. I recall my fellow graduate students telling me I was insane or a masochist to ask Sunny. Fortunately, he graciously agreed.
I recall sitting in his office in the old faculty of management building, Sunny looked at me and stated: "Regardless of the topic you choose Mr. Ahmed, anything but your very best for the final deliverable is unacceptable." Many iterations before my final thesis defence were a testament to that proclamation.
He was a demanding teacher but I state without hesitation I benefited from his guidance and knowledge. He pushed me to go beyond my best. In fact, my Master's thesis was instrumental in landing one of my first management roles of my career.
Sunny was a gentleman and ready to help both students and Dalhousie alumni. I kept in touch with him over a decade after I graduated. I'm thankful one of my last interactions was where he asked me to help him on something and I was able to deliver.
These days self-proclaimed "mentors" are popping up everywhere. They identify themselves as such on their LinkedIn profiles or introduce themselves as so when marketing themselves. My personal view is that a true "mentor" or "expert" never identifies themselves as one. Others do that instead.
Sunny Marche was a mentor to me. He was a credit to his family, the students, faculty and administration of Dalhousie University and to Canada. I will miss him.