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Left Turn: John Dickey, MBA ’93

  • Pat Morden
  • |
  • Dec 1, 2013

John Dickey, MBA ’93, left two “perfect jobs” to pursue the lifestyle he wanted. Now he’s partner in a successful e-learning company.

Left Turn: John Dickey, MBA ’93

The first time I made a quality of life decision, I was 14. I left my $2.35 an hour job at McDonald’s, moved to the family cottage, and worked for $2.15 at the marina. That set the pattern!

When I came to Ivey for my MBA I didn’t have much practical or academic business experience, so being immersed in three cases a day for two years was great. I made some lifelong friends. And my Ivey MBA helped me get a job at P&G, which in turn set me up for Boston Consulting Group. It’s the combination of Ivey plus experience at two world-class companies that is the foundation I now draw on.

When we were expecting our first child, I left BCG and we moved to Ottawa. I didn’t have a job. It was a quality-of-life move. I had no doubt that I would find something interesting to do. That’s the beauty of the education and experience I had.

I went from multi-billion dollar multinational M&A work to working with a pre-revenue startup looking for funding. It didn’t pay very well, but it was a gas! Over the next few years I was involved in either financing or operating a variety of small companies in a broad range of industries. The common element was fantastic people. I’m a relatively analytical Ivey MBA, but I’ve learned to go 100 per cent on intuition. Whatever the industry, I know that if the people are great, the work is going to be fun and good things will come of it.

Four years ago, I bought into Pensivo, a company founded by my partner Daniel Larocque about 30 years ago. Originally focused on producing one-off online courses for clients, Pensivo now offers comprehensive training and compliance solutions that manage and track all corporate training initiatives, for a range of folks, including retail, medical, and financial services customers. It’s simple enough for my mum to use — I know, I tested it on her!

Pensivo is really a lifestyle business — we work with clients we enjoy. We would happily bring on a couple more, but we have no big growth plans. We have some clients in South Africa, and eventually we’d like to do something that combines business and humanitarian work.

Photo: Nation Wong
Art Direction: Greg Salmela, Aegis