Photography: Dawn Stranden Photography

Sarku Japan founder creates flagship MBA scholarship

$195,000 gift establishes the James Chim Family Foundation MBA Entrance Scholarship for outstanding MBA students.

Natasha Katchuk

In October 2019, James and Margaret Chim announced the creation of the James Chim Family Foundation MBA Entrance Scholarship at the University of Saskatchewan’s Edwards School of Business through a $195,000 gift, which is slated to be the biggest annual award for the Edwards MBA program.

The James Chim Family Foundation MBA Entrance Scholarship will attract outstanding students with the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree from one of the top five percent of business schools worldwide. The scholarship recognizes the top applicant to the program for the next 15 years.

Chim credits his MBA as being an important part of his career as both a leader and an entrepreneur, and his experience has inspired him to give back to future students through the scholarship.

His story begins with his arrival in Canada as one of the first students to study the MBA at the University of Saskatchewan. The 25-year-old arrived late one evening at the Saskatoon airport with no arrangements.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Chim. “I called Bill Wallace, the MBA Director at the time, and explained my situation. He told me to stay put and came to pick me up from the airport. Professor Wallace and his wife put me up for the night and made me dinner. The next day he helped me find a residence. It was an experience I never forgot and I am forever thankful. It also exemplifies the warmth and generosity of the faculty at the University of Saskatchewan and the people of Canada.”

Upon graduation, Chim started a career at CIBC and over 16 years took on increasingly senior roles, including the role of the senior regional executive of the Toronto City region. He reached a glass ceiling in the banking industry, and with these realities in mind, Chim embarked on a new career as a senior executive at Manchu Wok, a large Chinese Quick-Service Restaurant (QSR) chain operating throughout North America.

In 1987, Chim followed his entrepreneurial dream and opened the first Sarku Japan restaurant in Boston. Sarku Japan introduced a fresh take on Japanese cuisine with a “made-to-order” approach. It would go on to become the largest Japanese QSR chain in the United States. Today, there are some 250 Sarku Japan restaurants in 34 American states, in addition to locations in Puerto Rico and South America.

Looking back upon his career, Chim is thankful for the education he received at the University of Saskatchewan.
“The MBA provided a foundation in deep and thorough thinking, as well as taking a holistic approach in problem solving,” said Chim. In challenging the MBA students in the audience to become entrepreneurs, Mr. Chim emphasized that they should strive to acquire skills in conflict resolution, win-win negotiation strategies, counselling and problem solving.

Now in its 50th year, the Edwards Master of Business Administration is over 1400 alumni strong. The aim is still similar; to help professionals seeking to advance or change their careers through a learning environment based on practical experience and essential management skills.

“Mr. Chim’s experience and business success are an inspiration to our students in pursuing their entrepreneurship dreams,” said Dr. Keith Willoughby, dean of the Edwards School of Business. “We are grateful for his investment in our student experience.”

Courtney Schroeder, Grad Programs Manager; James Chim, Sarku Japan Founder ; Jordan Arndt, inaugural scholarship recipient; and Keith Willoughby, Dean, Edwards School of Business

The event also included the much-anticipated awarding of the first-ever award to the 2019 recipient, Jordan Arndt.

Born and raised in Saskatoon, Arndt obtained an engineering degree at the Colorado School of Mines and currently works as a structural engineer at Kova Engineering. He is in his first year of the MBA program.
Arndt said he was honoured to be the first recipient of the award and was grateful for Mr. Chim's significant generosity and support.

“After meeting Mr. Chim, it is clear that he has a strong passion and care for the Edwards MBA program and community,” said Jordan Arndt. “Receiving this award inspires me to exemplify the leadership qualities that Mr. Chim has demonstrated throughout his career. He is the kind of leader I aspire to be."

To learn about the Edwards MBA and admission requirements, please visit edwardsmba.ca.


Back to News