40 under 40 — Wayne Burke
Alpha Psi, 2010 — Recognized in: 2018
Wayne Burke has spent much of the past decade balancing both full-time work and school schedules. He has founded two companies – DNE Resources and Link Energy – with operations all across North America and overseas. These organizations employ hundreds of people including dozens of Zetes. He graduated with a Law degree from McGill University, and shortly thereafter passed the New York State Bar.
“My greatest personal and professional achievement to date is the period of time that I spent sleeping on the floor of my first sales office in Vancouver in 2007.
Professionally, since giving up would have been much easier than continuing to pursue my dream of running the sales office and parlaying that into running a sales company in the energy industry, I am proud to have persisted.
Just eight months prior I had nearly $200,000 in personal savings, owned a home I had bought for my family (our first ever owned home) in Montreal and all was well. I left my B2B sales role for a start up managerial role across the country.
Since the rest of the industry flocked out there as well our customer attrition rates were in the high 90s and I was bleeding cash bonuses and overhead in pursuit of a dream with very little coming back. By the end I had $55,000 in credit card debt, had fire-sold my house and ditched my fancy Kitsilano condo to move into the office.
By far the most important part of this achievement was the friendship I had formed with our office cleaning lady, a kind and wise older lady from Trinidad named Lazina. Since I was always working late I would stop to make her a cup of tea and chat when she got to our floor to clean.
When we first met I was riding high financially but I am proud that the way I was raised meant I would always make time for my friend Lazina.
When I hit the lowest point and spent a few months living on the floor of the office only Lazina knew since she could see my bed roll hidden under the desk where no one else could.
Lazina never said a word to me about it but started bringing me Trini food each night (which made this pasty Irish kid sweat and which I now love!) and cleaning my laundry bringing back these perfectly folded little piles.
Our friendship continues to this day with regular calls and visits and I have since been able to help her as well.
This experience taught me much about grit and determination.
Even more importantly, it taught me that if you put good things out into the world and are kind to others with zero expectations then the world will also support you in times of need!”
Incredible academic and career achievements aside, Wayne’s continued involvement in the Alpha Psi chapter truly makes him stand out as one of Zeta Psi’s notable 40 Under 40. Whether joining the chapter for Terry Fox Run, outdoor hockey, or multiple speaking engagements at LTIs, he always finds time for the fraternity in his busy schedule.
Inherent in one’s duties as an Elder of Zeta Psi is providing mentorship and guidance for the undergraduates, and to lend a helping hand to the direction of our chapters, an area that Wayne has proven to excel at time and time again. Through his actions, it is clear that he holds the chapter to a higher standard, and is always available to be a part of the solution. Based on these demonstrable achievements, Wayne won Alpha Psi’s Elder Brother of the Year Award in 2016.
“When I first met the Alpha Psi Zetes I was traveling home from working away to hang out with my best friend Matt Sherrett on weekends. I socialized with the guys and their sorority friends and slept on the couch at the fraternity house. I had no idea what the fraternity was all about but I always enjoyed these weekends home!
A year later I was transferred to Montreal and decided to do some night classes. Matt suggested that I join and I remember then Phi Alec Humes needing to confirm that I was definitely going back to school and past Phi Rick Fortin putting a pin through my favourite Canali dress shirt (a prized possession at the time!).
I had been making a pretty good living (by my standards at the time) for a few years at that point and expected to have a strong career. I did not see any need to network professionally. I looked at the invitation to pledge Zeta Psi as simply a natural progression of the fun I had hanging out with those guys on weekends. It’s the least I could do to join and pay some dues after all the free couch surfing and other benefits of weekends at the Montreal house!
Fast-forward a decade later and many of my closest friends, business partners, investors and colleagues are Zetes. This includes those two Phis, Alec Humes and Rick Fortin, whom I barely knew at the time and are now among my closest friends and business partners. The close friendships are of course the most important benefits and these are genuine relationships that I hope and expect will last a lifetime.
That being said, Zetes have also played a massively important role in my professional development. This I never expected or even hoped for when joining.
As an example, my friendship with Rick Fortin helped protect me from a predatory offer to back a business we were launching in 2012. The Zete that he referred me to for advice ended up backing this dream. Even more importantly, he provided invaluable mentorship at a time when many people would have taken advantage of our lack of fundraising experience. The list of Zetes that have invested their time and or money in our business is far too long to list here at this point and so many of them have played massively important roles in growing our business – I never saw that coming.
One of the more unique examples of Zeta Psi’s impact on my life resulted from an invitation by another close friend, brother Eddy Drew, to join his “Wolfpack” in 2011. He and a couple of other Zetes spent a pretty special summer working for our company in Calgary and decided to get tattoos that would commemorate the experience and commit those wearing them to meet in Brazil in 2016 (the tattoo put on in 2011 says “Wolfpack” followed by the escutcheon then “Since 1847” and “Brazil 2016”).
Our commitment was that “unless you were dead or in jail” (purely for dramatic and humorous effect of course) you had to be in Brazil July 1 2016. As Zetes do, we were late! But we made it in just before NYE 2016 and had an incredible two-week, five Zete trip and added “Tanzania 2018” to the tattoo while we were there!
This tradition will likely continue all the way down our legs and around the world until we are too wrinkled to read them!
I love my brothers and I am proud to be a Zete!”