Robert Irving urges grads to seek careers in Atlantic Canada

Jim Day
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UPEI chancellor Don McDougall, right, and president Alaa S. Abd-El-Aziz present Moncton businessman Robert K. Irving with an honorary degree during UPEI's convocation. Irving is co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving Limited.

Canadian industrialist Robert K. Irving urged UPEI graduates to seek work in P.E.I. and other parts of Atlantic Canada.

"We want you, we need you - our brightest and best -- to pursue your dreams right here,'' he told the morning convocation of University of Prince Edward Island graduates last weekend.

"This is where you belong . . . There are many opportunities for you right here.''

Irving, co-chief executive officer of J.D. Irving, is responsible for several businesses within the Irving Group of Companies including consumer products in tissue and diapers, frozen food processing, transportation and courier, as well as industrial human resource services.

He says the company has thrived by keeping the home base, well, at home.

"While our markets and our customers are located throughout North America and around the world, this touches home: our businesses and our home for us is here, right here in Atlantic Canada,'' he said.

Irving, who received one of four honorary degrees conferred at the UPEI's two convocation ceremonies, says opportunities exist for the graduates to earn a good living in this region.

"Think about creating your own job or business here...you can make it happen here and we need you to do that,'' he said.

"You are our future.''

Irving told the grads that having passion for what he does has been a key to his success.

"Success comes much more easily if you love what you do,'' he said.

"We all spend so many hours every week and so many years of our lives working it truly must be something you believe in and enjoy doing.''

He says over his 37 years working in the J.D. Irving family business, he has had many different experiences, both challenging and rewarding.

He stressed while sometimes changes can be unpleasant and even painful, companies that don't make necessary shifts usually don't survive.

He pointed to Cavendish Farms finding ways to adapt successfully time and again to many challenges over the years.

"Your education doesn't stop just because you are receiving a degree or diploma today,'' he added.

"Learning is a lifelong activity. You should never stop learning.''

Organizations: University of Prince Edward Island, J.D. Irving, Irving Group of Companies

Geographic location: Atlantic Canada, P.E.I., North America

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  • Great Advice
    May 17, 2014 - 20:39

    How kind of Mr. Irving to share his advice. Yes, the grads should start their own businesses (if it doesn't impede the Irvings), and maybe they too can have incredible power over farmers...MAKE them buy the fertilizer they sell at unfair prices for the HONOR of taking all the risk to grow a crop and sell it to the company (IF the company still wants them at that point and WHEN the company wants to take them, regardless of what the contract says). Success hopefully does come easier when you love what you do. It probably comes a bit easier when your family has hundreds of millions to ease your way. I hope you'll have compassion for the farmers who work hard to help make you successful, Mr. Irving.

    • Whine.
      May 19, 2014 - 07:16

      Pathetic whiners on PEI. I guess you are not aware of how the Irvings got to where they are. I don't know if it's jealousy or just willful stupidity that generates these types of comments about one of the largest employers on the Island.

  • Please Stay
    May 17, 2014 - 12:41

    "We want you, we need you - our brightest and best -- to pursue your dreams right here,'' Until we start electing our brightest and best that is hard to do. Not sure about the Liberal party but I don't think the PC caucus has one degree combined amongst them. The best jobs here are political which forces the brightest to leave.