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Speech by CEO Ron Mock to graduates at the York University Convocation


Good Morning everyone.

One of my clearest memories from childhood is of homework. Big, groaning piles of homework spread out across our dining room table. The agony of having to sit and grind through it, already tired out after long, hard days.

But this homework wasn't mine. It was my father's. As a youngster he had finished school at Grade 8, but he certainly hadn't stopped believing in the value of education. And he proved this by working night after night after night on his high school diploma. And I can tell you, Grade 11 algebra certainly appeared to be as painful then as it is today!

But I remember, after many years of hard work, the beaming pride on my dad's face when he did it – he earned his high school diploma

And on his journey he instilled in me, at a very early age, a love of education and specifically the importance of continuous learning.

He would say, "It is such a privilege to have access to education.

And he modeled for his children the importance of continuous learning and the knowledge, freedom and sense of pride it brings. He wanted us to have all of these things, to go to university; and to make a meaningful contribution to our communities.

I know he is doing a happy dance today as I am sure he is here with us in spirit.

So as you can gather I am grateful and humbled to be receiving an honorary Doctor of Laws. I would like to sincerely thank the Selection Committee, the Board of Governors, Chancellor Sorbara, President Lenton, Dean Horvath, and York University.

It is incredible to be here with you, the graduating EMBA class, to mark your milestone accomplishment.
The EMBA isn't only an achievement…it is a passport

Not just to other countries but to other worlds of knowledge, awareness and connectivity with the bigger picture.

I am an engineer by background, and when I graduated with my degree in hand I knew a heck of a lot.

A heck of a lot about a few very specific things that are really crucial for an engineer – electromagnetics, differential calculus, microprocessor systems, and thermodynamics, to name just a few…

And I worked in some industries where that knowledge is invaluable – like nuclear safety – where you really do want experts who know what they are doing!

What I didn't know so much about back then was "the bigger picture" Reading the Report on Business section of the Globe and Mail was like reading ancient Greek. I didn't know a stock from a bond.

And then, I did my MBA, right here at Schulich. And it was like blinders coming off.

I went in there with deep, narrow knowledge about some really important things.

And now I was putting it all together in a much broader context, and making connections that I had never made before.

I could read the ROB and connect the dots from studies in economics, accounting, behavioral science and finance.
I could have great conversations about geopolitical developments, risk management, organizational behavior…

And ultimately I could put all of those pieces together to embark on a new career path that has taken me places I had never dreamed of when I graduated with my engineering degree in hand all those years ago.

It's funny that at that graduation ceremony, we engineers were told we would have four careers in our lives. Frankly I had worked so hard, I thought that was way off base. I would be finding my well-deserved "forever job" as soon as the school doors closed behind me.

Fast forward to today and I am now on career, you guessed it, four (and counting!) thanks to my MBA and Schulich. And I anticipate that you, the graduating class will no doubt have a similar variety of rich experience.
President Lenton has spoken with us about the four pillars of her leadership vision: Connectedness, Excellence, Impact and Access.

This sounds like a pretty solid list to me!

When I was entering school, access meant achieving marks and having the funds to attend. Through grants, student loans and bursaries I was given access.

For this I am forever grateful.

In today's world of interconnectedness and globalization, the concept of access has broadened and become so much more.

It means ensuring equal and equitable opportunities to everyone, to take full advantage of what education has to offer. To succeed we must remove all barriers that get in the way – not just those that exist today, but the potential barriers of the future.

Access to education is the key to inculcating diverse points of view into societies.

And this is enormously important to the way we live and work.

At Ontario Teachers' we compete on a global scale and finding the best minds; the most motivated global citizens, involves removing barriers to education. Running global businesses as we do requires multicultural talent, seeing things from a multitude of perspectives. Ultimately – it makes not just businesses but societies infinitely better.

I learned about this pillar of access from a true master - Dezsö Horváth He actually may be where the phrase "citizen of the world" originated…

Under his guidance and direction, this business school has exchange agreements with more than 80 top business schools in almost 40 countries

And it has rocketed up the global rankings - with the Kellogg-Schulich EMBA program ranked #5 in the WORLD by The Economist.

Dean Horvath was my policy course professor when I was here. He was such an inspiration then and continues to be one of the most inspirational leaders of today.

I am incredibly fortunate to have him and so many other very inspiring people in my life. Many are here today – my friends, family, colleagues and all of you who have done, and will go on to do amazing things.

Life is about access, our supporters and our mentors. It is truly a team sport.

My MBA from Schulich is the passport that took me all the way from that dining room table in Richmond Hill to leading a global company on behalf of 300,000 teachers in Ontario.

Note the education theme that became so important to me watching my father all those years ago has been the steady current running through everything that I do.

Congratulations to you all, the graduating EMBA class. You have earned your passports. I know that they can - and will - take you beyond anywhere that you can even imagine…

Thank you