The Honourable Tom Hockin encouraged University of Western Ontario graduates to be adaptable and not to fear multiple careers, during his convocation address on Friday afternoon, Oct. 29.
The Executive Director of the International Monetary Fund, representing the constituency of Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean. Hockin received an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LL.D.) for his role as a visionary leader, well-respected educator, dedicated family man, committed public servant, and generous supporter of the City of London and The University of Western Ontario.
During Western’s 296th convocation, Hockin spoke to graduates from the faculties of Social Science, Information and Media Studies, and the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.
“Just as countries are adaptable and not paralyzed by disruption, so should we,” says Hockin, a Western alumnus who served as a Member of Parliament from 1984 to 1993 and held cabinet positions in both the Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell governments. “It is true disruption closes doors, but it opens them as well.”
As Minister of International Trade, Hockin carried out the negotiations on the side accords to the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993. He was Minister of State (Finance), responsible in part for the restructuring of the regulation of federal financial institutions from 1986 to 1989 and, more recently, chaired the Expert Panel on Securities Regulation, which recommended the establishment of a single securities regulator and securities act for Canada.
Hockin has a business degree from Western, and master’s degree in public administration and PhD in political science from Harvard University. He was also awarded an Honorary Doctor of Commerce by Ryerson University in 2005.
Hockin recalls growing up just a block from the Richmond Gates and the sounds of the Mustang marching band strengthening his dream of one day going to Western. And when he finally got into university he says, “the academics were demanding, the friendships were close and the school spirit was palpable.”
He says as students head into the workforce, they need to remember that it’s not about the title or position they hold, but by what he calls the verbal description of what they do.
“What is marketable to others, and fulfilling for you, is not your past titles, but what you actually do. You create, design, help, manage organize, analyze …,” he says. “It’s those verbs employers are looking for.”
From 1974 to 1981, Hockin was the Headmaster of St. Andrew’s College in Aurora, Ontario. He also served as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University (1964-1966), a Professor at York University (1966-1981) and the Richard Ivey School of Business (1981-1984) and an Adjunct Professor at Western’s Faculty of Law (1999).
In her citation, Lawrence National Centre for Policy & Management Director Dianne Cunningham says Hockin has earned both national and global respect in numerous areas including politics, education and community causes.
“Tom has contributed to secondary and post-secondary education as a professional and volunteer since 1966, helping not only to shape young minds, but also to contribute to academic research,” says Cunningham. “We are extremely proud that his own academic background includes The University of Western Ontario.”
Despite his successes, Hockin has not forgotten his roots. Born in London, he has served as a director for both the Thames Valley Children’s Hospital Board and the Pacific & Western Credit Corporation and PWC Bank, whose head offices are based in London.
He worked tirelessly for his constituents of London West for nine years (1984-1993) and with his collaborative approach accomplished much for London, including securing $10 million in federal funding for the John P. Robarts Research Institute and $4 million for the Siebens Drake Research Institute.
While expectedly nervous in getting their first job, Hockin explained to the students that everything new will be overwhelming at first, but to stay strong and not give up.
“Life is truly like playing the violin at a concert when you’re still taking lessons,” he says, adding open yourself up to as many possibilities as you can.
“Don’t pour your energy into one action or one place, but instead provide yourself with many pillars of support, many circles of friends and many worthy causes – as many as you can. It may seem a one-way street, but let me tell you, it seldom is.”