Opportunities have never been greater for individuals seeking to change the world, said esteemed engineer Pierre Lassonde.
“As a society, we are in the middle of huge, disruptive technological breakthroughs that will affect the world’s labour and financial markets. You decided to get an education to change the world but the world is already ahead of you,” Lassonde said.
But this just means graduates need to seek out the opportunities that will fit their skillsets, helping to benefit the world around them.
Lassonde spoke to graduates from the Faculty of Engineering, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and School of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies at the Friday, June 12, afternoon session of Western’s 305th Convocation.
Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) upon Lassonde in recognition his distinguished career as an engineer and philanthropist.
“One thing that hasn’t changed, and won’t change for quite a while, is mankind. We come in all shapes, colours and flavours,” he said.
“We all want to be different, but we crave the same things – a roof, food, safety and freedom of expression. Mankind’s shapes, colours and flavours are not so different after all.”
Keep that in mind, as you seek out opportunities to benefit the world around you, he explained.
Lassonde earned a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Montreal, and a Master of Business Administration, a professional Engineering degree and a Chartered Financial Analyst degree, from the University of Utah.
He is regarded as a highly accomplished professional engineer, successful investor and financier, entrepreneur and company builder, a generous philanthropist, and a national leader in Canada’s mining and business communities.
An advocate for educating future engineers to have exposure to business, leadership and innovation, Lassonde is chairman of Franco-Nevada Mining Corporation, a world-class gold royalty and streaming company. He co-founded the company in 1982. Newmont Mining Corporation acquired the company in 2002, and Lassonde became president and vice-chairman, holding the post for five years.
In 2008, Lassonde led an investors group, bringing Franco-Nevada back to the public market with a $1.2 billion initial public offering. The current market capitalization of Franco-Nevada is more than $5 billion.
He is a Member of the Order of Canada and Officer of the Quebec Order. Lassonde was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame in January 2013.
He offered graduates a handful of rules going forward, dubbing them the ‘Lassonde Rules of Life.’
First, say ‘thank-you.’ These two words are the best way to show people you care. Second, throw a party, celebrate life. Each of us is on this planet a short time; create memories you will live on, he said. Have no regrets, feed your soul. See for yourself the Earth is round. And leave a better world behind, he concluded.
Lassonde chairs the Quebec National Art Museum. In 2009, a $5-million gift from the Lassonde Family Foundation – the largest gift ever to Western Engineering – supported the construction of the Claudette MacKay-Lassonde Pavilion.
In his citation, Engineering Dean Andrew Hrymak spoke highly of Lassonde’s many accomplishments, noting his careers successes and philanthropy as exemplary.
“He believes that Canada’s greatest resource is its people, especially its youth, and has invested in their future through providing opportunities for young people to become leaders,” Hrymak said.
“A strong supporter of postsecondary education, Dr. Lassonde has made a significant impact at many universities in Canada and the United States, including Western University. As a philanthropist, he has supported engineering education at York University, École Polytechnique and Western, entrepreneurship at the University of Utah, and mining engineering at the University of Toronto. His engineering expertise, business mind-set, and generous philanthropic nature have made an impact at home and around the world.”
Above all, remember the ‘Three Ts,’ Lassonde added. Give time, talent and treasure.
Also during the ceremony the Distinguished University Professor award was presented to Ivey Business School professor Mary Crossan and Schulich professor Jeff Dixon. The Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching was also presented to Engineering professor Kibret Mequanint.