During the course of their regularily scheduled operations, the Québec government's Conseil des ministres today decreed that effective immediately, Pierre Lassonde has been named Chair of Polytechnique Montréal's Board of Directors. Lassonde, himself a Polytechnique graduate (Po 71), was nominated following a robust and thoughtful process.
Pierre Lassonde, Chair of Polytechnique Montréal's Board of Directors. (Photo by Caroline Perron photographies)
A successful entrepreneur, experienced administrator, and benefactor to the arts and sciences, Lassonde will preside over the Board of Directors at Polytechnique, his alma mater, for a five-year term.
“Mr. Lassonde has an exceptional career, above all when it comes to supporting the next generation and fostering entrepreneurship. As Polytechnique approaches its 150th anniversary in 2023, the contributions that Mr. Lassonde will make to our university as an accomplished, successful engineer and dedicated philanthropist are priceless,” notes Polytechnique Montréal President Philippe A. Tanguy.
“Taking up the position of Chair of the Board of Directors at Polytechnique Montréal is above all about giving back. From my perspective, there is simply nothing better than being able to assist my alma mater engineering university to equip the next generation for their roles as knowledge and wealth creators - all while being able to share my entrepreneurial passion,” enthuses Pierre Lassonde.
“In Polytechnique’s classrooms I received an exceptional engineering education, which beyond a doubt has helped me to achieve all that I have today. I am thrilled to be able to use my abilities as an administrator and entrepreneur to benefit Polytechnique until 2023 – the institution’s 150th anniversary, when we aspire to its being ranked among the 50 top engineering education establishments in the world, thanks to its ability to recruit and foster entrepreneurial talents,” explains Mr. Lassonde.
A remarkable career
After completing a Bachelor of Arts at the Université de Montréal in 1967, Pierre Lassonde became a student at Polytechnique, graduating as an Electrical Engineer in 1971. Mr. Lassonde also has a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Utah, which he completed in 1984.
In 1980, Pierre Lassonde began a ten-year period presiding over the gold division of Beutel, Goodman & Company, directing its highly successful gold investment fund. He co-founded Franco-Nevada Mining Corporation in 1982 - the first publicly traded gold royalty company. In 2002, Franco-Nevada was acquired by Newmont Mining Corp., the world’s largest gold producer at the time. Lassonde was Newmont’s President from 2002 to 2007 and its Vice-Chairman in 2007.
In 2008, Lassonde led a group of investors and former executives who returned Franco-Nevada to the public market; he also became its Chairman. Franco-Nevada’s US$1.2B IPO was the largest mining company Initial Public Offering ever posted on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The company’s success story continues today, with a market capitalization over US$25B.
Passionate about entrepreneurship
A passion for entrepreneurship that began with Franco-Nevada quickly led Lassonde to other thrilling opportunities with investors in 1993, with start-up Metallica Resources (known today as New Gold). The company was responsible for the discovery of the world class El Morro deposit in Chile and the Cerro San Pedro deposit in Mexico. In 1995, Lassonde provided financial backing to Claudette MacKay-Lassonde for the start-up of Enghouse Systems Ltd, a software provider for telecommunications companies. Today, this globally-recognized company has a market capitalization of nearly $3 billion.
Pierre Lassonde is firm believer that concrete connections are made when preparation meets opportunity. “Entrepreneurs orchestrate meetings of the mind and of skill, where talent, personality, and leadership are front and centre.”
This perspective led him to envisage, found, and provide mentorship at the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and Studios at the University of Utah. His specific vision for the above centre was to foster an ecosystem that encouraged people to meet, where students were able to play key roles and acquire entrepreneurial expertise that surpasses what is taught in the classroom.
“Bold entrepreneurial vision requires an open environment where diverse schools of thought and fields are able to mix together to create ground-breaking ideas and concepts, born of ingenious cross-disciplinarily. It’s a context where cross—pollination between top-tier researchers, passionate students, and those constantly searching for the next wave of innovation occurs,” notes Mr. Lassonde. In fact, the above guiding principle of entrepreneurial equity was the basis for Lassonde’s involvement at York University.
Equipped with a collaborative vision of development, Pierre Lassonde has committed to contributing his expertise to stimulate engineering innovations that positively impact society, and help bring Polytechnique Montréal ever-more into international limelight – just in time for the institution’s 150th anniversary.
A dedicated Philanthropist
Lassonde is an active and engaged philanthropist in both Canada and the United States in the fields of Education, the Arts, and his community.
His donations total over $100M and have founded iconic programs such as the Lassonde Entrepreneur Institute and Studios at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, the Lassonde School of Engineering at York University in Toronto, the Lassonde Mining Engineering program at the University of Toronto, and countless scholarships in various universities across Canada.
In 2002, Lassonde and his late wife Claudette MacKay-Lassonde made an $8M donation to their shared alma mater, Polytechnique Montréal. These funds provided the financial basis for the Pierre-Lassonde and Claudette-MacKay-Lassonde Buildings, inaugurated in 2005, and which notably are Canada’s first-ever LEED Certified Gold university buildings.
Lassonde served on the board of the Denver Opera Company from 2003 to 2008, and is a Past President of the Board of Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (2005 to December 2016) – in which capacity he led a $110 Million fund raising campaign for the creation of a new pavilion dedicated entirely to Canadian Art. Pierre Lassonde is also the Canada Council for the Arts President of the Board.
Pierre Lassonde has been awarded honorary engineering degrees from the Universities of Toronto, Ryerson, and Montréal (upon Polytechnique’s recommendation), as well as honorary doctorates in business administration from the University of Utah; honorary doctorates in law from York and Western Universities (Canada); and an honorary doctorate in science from Concordia University.
In terms of industry honours, Mr. Lassonde has merited numerous prizes and distinctions, notably the Engineering Medal, Entrepreneurship - Professional Engineers of Ontario (1999), and has been inducted into the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business Hall of Fame (2001). He has also been awarded the Prix Mérite de l’Association des diplômés de Polytechnique (2002), and earned Québec City’s Ordre des mécènes (2008). He was inducted into the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame (2013), won the Award of Outstanding Achievement, Philanthropy - Canadian Museums Association (2017), and in 2018, he was awarded Journal Les Affaires’ Prix PDG de l’année, in the “haut dirigeant socialement engagé” category (Les Affaires magazine’s CEO of the Year Award, socially engaged leader category).
Pierre Lassonde was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2002, and was made a Grand Officier de l’Ordre national du Québec in 2019.
Mr. Lassonde takes over the role of Chair of the Board of Directors from Ms. Michèle Thibodeau-DeGuire, who in 1963, became Polytechnique’s first-ever female Civil Engineering Graduate, and was also the first female Chair of Polytechnique Montréal’s Board of Directions, a position she held from January 2013 to the present.
“On behalf of Polytechnique Montréal, I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to Ms. Thibodeau-DeGuire for her precious contributions to our university as out-going Chair of the Board of Directors, and also wish to extend a warm welcome to incoming Board of Directors Chair, Mr. Pierre Lassonde,” acknowledges Philippe A. Tanguy.