October 21, 2004

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Convocation Comment

Nancy McKinstry

"Success is something that turns out well."

I want us to think together today about success, what it means and how one defines it.

I have just recently retired from my career of 21 years in the investment business and so, like you, I have been evaluating my life to this point: acknowledging what has been accomplished in the past and establishing some goals for the future.

It was interesting to look up the definition of success. I found two. The first definition I did not totally agree with. It was: “a success is somebody who has significant achievements, somebody who has a record of achievement, especially in gaining wealth, fame, or power.”

I think that this definition misses the defining characteristic of success in my mind. The most important achievements for me have been the respect and friendship of my colleagues, clients, associates, family and friends, not the rewards or recognition.

I have found that commitment to a job well done and performing that job with passion and joy has given me immeasurable personal satisfaction.

The second definition I found more closely hits the mark. “Success is something that turns out well, something that turns out as planned or intended.”

This is far more meaningful for me. Determination (some may call it stubbornness), a genuine curiosity and an acknowledgement and directed use of one's skills will nurture success.

A personal example of success for me was taking a gem of an idea and creating the Minerva Foundation for B.C. Women, an influential force in the women's community throughout the province.

For the full text see Nancy McKinstry.

David Mclean

"Follow your dream with focus and determination."

My experience in life has taught me many lessons. The one I would like to leave with you is simple and fundamentally important: follow your dream - follow your dream with focus, determination and especially with passion.

You are at a stage in life where many of you have completed or are close to completing the formal educational preparation for your life. Of course we never stop learning, because life will teach you many lessons if you keep your mind and heart open. This is critically important.

But now you must make choices for your future. Never compromise your dreams. Pursue them with passion and you will never have any regrets.

I remember as a small boy growing up on the Prairies being fascinated by trains. My father worked for the company which I now chair, so I was often around trains. For many years he was a union leader. I gained great perspective from watching him.

He was not well educated in a formal sense, having had to leave school at the death of his parents after Grade 4 but he did follow his dream and had a passion for what he did.
I loved watching trains, riding on them and seeing how they moved the vast resources of this country to markets all over the world. It was 1979, many years later that I would be asked to join the board of directors of that company where my father worked for 50 years. It then was a somewhat inefficient crown corporation badly in need of reform.

I left the board of CN in 1986 after a government change, then I was asked to rejoin the board again in 1994. I met with the Prime Minister and my first reaction was, “No. I've been there, done that.” He said I have a plan to privatize this company and I want you to lead the privatization process. I said now you have my attention.

For the full text see David McLean.

Sheila Fraser

"Stand up for what you believe to be right.

When I was invited to accept this degree, I wondered what I could possibly share from my own experience to inspire you.

But as I thought about it, I realized that there were some interesting parallels between what I do - legislative auditing - and life in general.

So, I'd like to take this opportunity to share a few of them with you.

Here we are at Simon Fraser, a university named after an explorer who navigated a wild, uncharted river and lived to tell one of the most exciting tales in Canadian history.

Anyone who reads the account of Simon Fraser's voyage to the ocean can't help but be impressed by the strength of his courage and determination.

When he and his crew paddled westward along an unknown river, it was without a clear idea of where they would end up.

It's the same for legislative auditors. When you start an audit you don't always know where you will end up and what you will find. Where will the journey lead?

What unexpected twists and turns and hidden rapids and whirlpools will you encounter along the way?

In a sense, the journey we take through life is much the same. Like Simon Fraser, we are all explorers on a voyage of discovery. There are no predetermined endings.

You, the class of 2004, are indeed fortunate. The knowledge and skills a university education has given you will serve you well as navigation tools.

Something else auditors experience - the numbers don't always add up, or there are problems in the ways programs are managed.

As Auditor General of Canada, my job is to provide the information that Parliament needs to hold the government accountable for the stewardship of public funds.

During your working life, you may find yourself in situations that require you to do the same. If so, I urge you to muster every ounce of courage and stand up for what you believe to be right.

For the full text see Sheila Fraser.

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