Hello, Newman

By Mike Bowerman

Best-selling author Peter C. Newman inaugurated the first annual Alumni Homecoming for the Faculty of Management last Friday. Following a lead-up that anchored three days of seminars and networking for faculty graduates, the dinner featured the presentation of the first Management Alumni Excellence Award (MAX Award) to acknowledge alumni who have made exceptional contributions to both business and the community.

Newman directed his remarks towards the future of both Canada and the globe, expanding on the theme of his latest book, Titans: How the New Canadian Establishment Seized Power. Robotics and the Internet were two of the areas Newman saw as revolutionizing our world.

"The Internet is only 2,000 days old since we perfected it," he observed. "Nobody knows where it’s going because it is anarchy."

He expressed a strong sense of optimism about the changes sweeping social and economic spheres, citing more funding to the United Nations as one way to stabilize the social disequilibrium that could flow from the technological revolution. He also expressed concern at the unregulated flow of capital.

"Mae West once said that too much of a good thing is terrific," he paraphrased. "But this speculation could be dangerous."

Newman came to Canada from Vienna in 1940, and the author praised his adoptive home.

"What we have here is a daily miracle of a country," said Newman. "Canada is a better place to live than the United States."

His love of the Canadian identity and values led him to downplay the threat of Canadian entrepreneurs heading south of the border. In line with his praise of Canadian social values he promoted the importance of philanthropy to the business audience.

"The Titans have everything," he stressed. "But they don’t have legitimacy. The way they can get this is by contributing creatively to their community."

MAX Award recipient Mike Tims exemplified this creative contributing. Described by Newman as an honourable gentleman, Tims went from a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Calgary to a Master’s of Business Administration at Harvard University in 1978. Since that time, he returned to his Calgary alma mater where he gave time to volunteering, lecturing and student mentoring. His involvement has not been limited to the university however, as he also served as Director for numerous companies and assisted charities such as the United Way and the Calgary Zoo. Between 1991 and 1997 he was involved in $10 billion worth of transactions as an investment dealer.

Tims described humility and humour as two of the key ingredients of personal success.

"People who are doing well are usually having fun and not taking themselves too seriously," he said. His industry observations fell into this context, as he quipped, "Investment firms take your money and their experience and make it their money and your experience."

The Alumni Homecoming was an opportunity for professional development for former grads, with workshops on various aspects of management including marketing and the high-tech sector. The speakers highlighted the abundance of opportunity and potential that the new economy holds, as well as the need for a consistent effort to give back to the community that created this opportunity.

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