The four inductees into the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame share two things: successful careers, and surprise at being chosen.
Other than that, the four — Angus Bruneau, Capt. Sid Hynes, and Kevin and Susan Sexton — took wildly diverging paths to business success.
All were feted with video tributes and standing ovations Thursday night in front of hundreds in the Newfoundland and Labrador business community at the Convention Centre.
Bruneau — whose sons Steve, Peter and Ian gave an acceptance speech on his behalf, with their father recovering from surgery — founded Fortis in 1987, is a former president and CEO of Newfoundland Power and was the founding dean of the faculty of engineering and app-lied science at Memorial University.
For him, success is dependent on many, many factors, he told the Telegram earlier Thursday.
“But principal among them is the selection of people, the development of people, the attention to their particular needs — it’s all done with people,” he said.
In his acceptance speech, Hynes reflected on his career — from being Canada’s youngest captain, at 21, through serving as acting president and CEO of Marine Atlantic and his partnership to purchase Oceanex Income Trust — and urged the aspiring business students in the audience to figure out what they want to achieve, because the greatest asset anyone has is time.
“You’ve got to have a goal. You’ve got to have a dream. That’s the first thing in life,” he said.
Hynes told The Telegram it’s a terrific feeling to be recognized by his peers.
“It’s sort of like a big responsibility, actually,” he said, noting that the induction conveys recognition as a role model for aspiring businesspeople.
“It’s hard to explain. It’s a bit of a shock, in some instance. You’re working away, doing your own thing, but obviously a lot of people are keeping an eye on you and giving you a vote of support for what you’ve done in your life. It’s absolutely tremendous.”
Hynes said he never imagined himself earning a spot in the business hall of fame.
“I’ve never planned my life. I just get up and do what comes natural, whatever that is,” he said, laughing. “I’m no expert on how to go through life, I can assure you.”
The Sextons operate Sexton Lumber Co., inherited from Kevin’s father George, in Bloomfield and have turned it into the largest sawmill in the province. In his acceptance speech, Kevin brought the house down with his story of ducking the phone call telling them of their nomination, because the noisiness of the shop floor meant he thought he was being nominated for a hall of shame.
He told The Telegram it’s taken some time just to get used to the idea of being inducted.
“It was sort of overwhelming at first,” he said. “We’ve got to attribute a lot of it to all our hard workers who work at the mill. That’s our goal, to continue to do the same as we’re doing now.”
Susan Sexton agreed.
“We wouldn’t have done it without all the people surrounding us, all of our supporters, everybody that supported us.”
The role model aspect is something taken seriously by the students in Junior Achievement. O’Donel High School student Laura Greene, 17, called it an honour to be part of the induction celebrations, and said there are lessons to be learned from all the laureates.
“It makes us realize that you don’t have to outmigrate. You don’t have to go somewhere else to be a successful Newfoundlander,” she said. “You can stay right here at home and have immense success doing something that interests you.”