Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Millionaire grad wows students

By Jenn McDonald, 2nd year
Marketing Management Diploma

Last Tuesday evening, 150 sharply-dressed students, faculty, alumni and members of the general public gathered in a lecture hall at the New West Campus for the Douglas College Business Association’s First Annual Speakers Night (sponsored by the Douglas College Alumni Association). Attendees had the opportunity to sit in on a panel discussion with founder of Lions Gate Entertainment, president and CEO of Fiore Financial and undisputedly, Douglas College’s most successful graduate, Frank Giustra. It was a night of networking, thought-provoking discussion, and humour.

Ticket holders began arriving at 6:30pm for drinks, appetizers and a bit of old-fashioned elbow rubbing, most hoping for a chance to meet Frank pre-event. A few students and faculty were fortunate enough to catch him in the welcoming area where he happily shared anecdotes about his first job as a chicken catcher and playing cards with former U.S. president Bill Clinton. Frank was engaging, modest and surprisingly un-intimidating. He managed to put everyone in the room at ease with his calming presence and soft-spoken demeanor.

At 7:30, the lecture hall filled up. Frank and the other panel members took their seats, and the live streaming video to the overflow room began. Also on the panel was longtime Douglas Economics instructor and former mentor to Frank, Ron Midgley (to Frank's left). Marketing Management student Michelle Bailey (far left) acted as the voice of the student body. She was sharp, insightful and represented Douglas students extremely well. After a short introduction by moderator, Dean of Commerce and Business Administration Robert Buller, questions began to roll.

For the next hour, Frank fielded questions on everything from his view on the current Canadian economy to the three traits he believes are most important to success. For the record, he answered passion, kindness/generosity, and humour. He provided insight, advice and stressed the importance of students learning about the past in order to be successful in the future. When he spoke, there was not a sound in the room. Looking around, everyone was alert and many even took notes as to not forget Frank’s wise words.

The discussion ended far too soon – at 8:30 there was an almost audible sigh from the crowd. Fortunately, Frank graciously stated, “I have all the time in the world,” and stuck around for at least forty-five minutes as about thirty students crowded around him to ask their own burning questions.

The event was a smashing success according Marketing Management student Bailey Chambers, who said with a big smile, “This was the best speaker’s night I’ve attended!” BBA, Accounting student Allyn Edwards thought that Frank provided “a unique perspective on the value of continued learning outside the confines of college.” The Douglas College Business Association managed to step up their game at this year’s Speaker’s Night and the best part is Frank Giustra has agreed to come back in future and speak with us again!