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McKay to graduates: You have the foundation to thrive

  • Cam Buchan
  • |
  • Jun 7, 2019
McKay to graduates: You have the foundation to thrive

Graduates have the foundation to thrive in a new and challenging world, but must live with integrity and principle in order to truly succeed, said RBC President and CEO David McKay, MBA '92.

McKay was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LLD) at Ivey's Spring Convocation 2019 for MSc, MBA, EMBA and PhD graduates. He gave the advice in his Convocation address.

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"You have an unprecedented opportunity to create change, to reinvent, to challenge, to work in more agile and collaborative ways, and to have impacts on large and small organizations much earlier in your career. I know you have the foundation to thrive in this new world."

McKay outlined the early influences on his life and career, and gave graduates three principles to live by as they head out into the world.

Dream big, but get on the road:

With his mother's example and encouragement to believe in himself, McKay joined RBC in 1988 as a co-op student. There he truly found his future in a customer-service based organization. It was in these early days, including his time in Ivey's MBA Program with Professor Emeritus Jim Hatch, that he started wondering what it would be like to be CEO.

This dream helped create the drive and focus on his journey to becoming CEO.

"My message to you is to state big goals, to put yourself out there, and to not be afraid to fail."

Live life with integrity and principle:

It’s very easy to get off course, whether it's due to stress, or a desire to achieve. McKay encouraged graduates to think carefully about their values.

"Find a mentor, one who amplifies the leadership style of values and integrity that you aspire to practise. Good followership – It paves the way for others to follow you."

Find purpose in your life:

"There will be trade offs between work, family, friends, and individual pursuits," McKay said. “And you need to discover what's important to you and you need to set goals that align with that purpose."

He also advised graduates to take ownership of making their communities prosper, and ensure their involvement matches their goals.

McKay closed with a quote from Larry Lucchino, former President and CEO of the Boston Red Sox.

Life is not about warming yourself by the fire. Life is about building the fire and generosity is the match… Do you want happiness for an hour? Take a nap. But if you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.