Robert Irving urges grads to seek careers in Atlantic Canada

Jim Day jday@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on May 17, 2014

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.

©Guardian photo by Mitch MacDonald

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.''