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Thomas d'Aquino challenges students to be bold

Jul 19, 2023

MBA Leadership Day

MBA Class of 2023 with Ivey senior leadership and Thomas d'Aquino

Ivey’s recently renewed mission is to develop leaders who think globally, act strategically, and address critical issues facing organizations and society – the evolution of work, Canada’s place in the world, and sustainability.

In order for tomorrow’s leaders to address society’s critical issues, they need strong leader character, which was the focus of Ivey’s 2023 MBA Leadership Day, where MBA students engaged in a day dedicated to their development as leaders.

Hosted by the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, MBA Leadership Day challenged students to find courage, find purpose, learn to reflect, and care for others.

To close the event, the Ihnatowycz Leadership Institute and the Lawrence National Centre for Policy & Management hosted a fireside chat with Thomas d’Aquino, a renowned entrepreneur, philanthropist, corporate director, educator, and #1 national bestselling author. Ivey's Romel Mostafa, Director of the Lawrence National Centre for Policy & Management, introduced d'Aquino highlighting his trajectory and the interconnection among leadership, business, and public policy.

In a conversation with Kimberley Milani, Director of the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, d’Aquino discussed his recently released memoir, Private Power, Public Purpose: Adventures in Business, Politics, and the Arts, and covered his experiences navigating a career at the centre of business and public policy spanning over four decades, six Canadian prime ministers, more than 1,000 chief executives, and dozens of global leaders.Thomas d'Aquino

To open the chat, d’Aquino shared the inspiration for the title of his memoir, Private Power, Public Purpose. Motivated by Roman philosopher Cicero, who subscribed to the idea of “summum bonum”— the highest good, d’Aquino admired the teachings that true leaders should always aspire to achieve the greatest possible good for as many people as possible.

“We may want to go out and achieve great things, build organizations, and influence people, but at the end of the day, we want people to say that they’ve done good things and have left a better world behind.”

Carpe diem

Ivey MBAs also heard d’Aquino speak of how his family shaped his leader character, how his bold ambitions progressed his career, and how he persevered in the face of adversity. When asked to define what leadership means to him personally, d’Aquino spoke of ambition, taking risks, vision, hard work, humility, and the importance of giving back.

Often referred to as the “CEO of CEOs,” d’Aquino noted that when working with some of the most powerful people in the country, it can be tough to remain humble.

“Regardless of whether you’re running a big and powerful organization or a small and very successful one, humility is very important, and you have to remind yourself of that.”

Closing out the conversation with reference to Roman poet, Horace, d’Aquino reminded his audience to "carpe diem" seize the day. “We have to be able to do things more quickly and more effectively, otherwise the world is going to pass us by.”