The Dean’s Speaker Series, an initiative launched by Sauder’s Alumni Engagement Office in the fall of 2013, is a unique opportunity for alumni-student interaction. Prominent UBC alumni and business leaders from diverse industries visit the School three times a year to share their knowledge and life experiences with Sauder students.
Bill Thomas (BSc ‘89), CEO and Senior Partner at KPMG Canada and Chair of KPMG’s Americas Region, the latest speaker in the series, met with Sauder students last November and stressed that while they should strive for professional success, having a career goal in mind is not the same thing as chasing a high-paying job.
“I never worried about the financial rewards of jobs that I had because I knew I would end up in a place where I would be doing two things: making a difference and having fun,” he said.
Three other prominent business leaders have spoken to students since the event was launched.
Sue Paish (BCom ’81), President and CEO of LifeLabs Medical Laboratory Services and member of Sauder’s Faculty Advisory Board, shared insights on her career and explained how her professional choices were always guided by her principles. For Paish, any major decision, including the decision of whether to accept or decline a senior partnership offer, were all made based on her values.
“Rather than walking away from a networking event with five business cards, it’s better to walk away with stories of people,” she said.
She immediately caught everyone’s attention by framing her presentation as the top 10 lessons that business schools won’t teach you. Among these lessons, Paish highlighted the importance of building genuine relationships by taking the time to learn about other people in a sincere way.
Dominic Barton (BA '84, Doctor of Laws, honoris causa ’12), Global Managing Director of McKinsey and Company, one of the world’s pre-eminent management consulting firms, discussed his experience working in several projects around the world.
In his presentation “Leadership Requirements in a Fast Changing World,” Barton identified five megatrends reshaping the global economy—the rise of emerging markets, resource scarcity, aging populations, the digital age, and the market state—and walked students through an array of data to paint a vivid picture of opportunity and upheaval.
Robert Macdonald (BCom 1980), the founder, owner and president of Macdonald Development Corporation (MDC), a private family-owned estate development company based in Vancouver, shared some of his own life’s lessons with students. He emphasized the importance of lifelong learning and working with focus, persistence and thoughtful effort. He also advised students to “always plan for failure, as well as success, on the well-grounded assumption that failure—or at least unintended consequences—is a possible outcome in a messy balky world.”
The next Dean’s Speaker Series will feature Brandt Louie Chairman of H.Y. Louie Co. Limited and London Drugs on March 17.