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Honorary degree citation - Gilles Ouimet

By: Louise Quesnel, June 2003

Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you Gilles Ouimet, chairman and former president and chief executive officer of Pratt & Whitney Canada, an engineer and manager extraordinaire in Canadian aviation and aeronautics.

Born in Montreal, he studied at the Royal Military College of Canada, in Kingston, Ontario. These were the days of the beginning of his lasting love of flying and passion for aviation. He earned an undergraduate degree in engineering physics from the college in 1967, and began his career as an aeronautics engineer in the Canadian Air Force. As a young lieutenant, he had the opportunity to manage first-line service for a fleet of aircraft in Cold Lake, Alberta, a responsibility that expanded to cover some 200 people when he was promoted to captain. The leadership, planning and management challenges he encountered daily in the army hangars eventually motivated his studies in the master's program in business administration at Queen's University, a degree he received in 1972.

Gilles Ouimet accepte un poste d'analyste financier à la Compagnie minière Québec Cartier, puis à Northern Telecom (aujourd'hui Nortel Networks) en 1973. Ses talents de gestionnaire l'amènent rapidement à la tête de l'administration financière d'une division importante de Northern Telecom, puis de deux autres comme contrôleur. Pendant cette période, il acquiert une solide expertise en gestion financière et stratégique et, en 1976, le titre de comptable en management accrédité. Dès lors, sa carrière prend son envol, au sens propre comme au figuré.

Mr. Ouimet became a financial analyst with Quebec Cartier Mining, moving on to Northern Telecom (now known as Nortel Networks) in 1973. His management and financial responsibilities soon developed into directorship of financial analysis for a major Northern Telecom division, then into controller of two progressively larger divisions. During this time, he cemented his expertise in financial and strategic management, earning his designation as a Certified Management Accountant in 1976. From here, his career path would take on, literally and figuratively, new heights.

In 1977, Gilles Ouimet joined the leading aeronautical firm Pratt & Whitney Canada as controller. Over the span of the next quarter-century, he gained an impressively thorough knowledge of the industry and its dynamics, the global clientele and market, and driving factors. His engaging and winning leadership style lifted him swiftly through the professional ranks. Between 1980 and 1989, his duties progressed to Vice President, Finance, then Vice President, Operations, Senior Vice President, Marketing and Customer Support, and Executive Vice President. He was named President and Chief Operating Officer in 1994, and became President and Chief Executive Officer in the year 2000. Since May 2002, he has been Chairman of Pratt & Whitney Canada.

Gilles Ouimet joue un rôle-clé dans le succès prodigieux de Pratt & Whitney Canada depuis maintenant plus de 25 ans. Son leadership exemplaire, sa capacité d'anticiper et de comprendre les retombées de la mondialisation et sa détermination d'encourager le travail d'équipe et le dynamisme des employés ont permis à ce constructeur de matériel aéronautique de maintenir sa position de chef de file mondial.

Mr. Ouimet's accomplished leadership at Pratt & Whitney Canada over more than 25 years, his anticipation and understanding of the impact of globalization, and his firm focus on teamwork and employee vitality have been key to the company's soaring success and continuing position as a world-leading aeronautical manufacturer.

Mr. Ouimet is also Chairman of the Aerospace Industries Association of Canada, the American Helicopter Society and the Technical Policy Committee of Washington-based General Aviation Manufacturers Association. He serves on the Technology Partnership Canada and the Canadian Space Agency Advisory Councils, and is a member of the Prime Minister's Advisory Council on Science and Technology.

Accolades to Gilles Ouimet have come from the fields of management and engineering alike. He received the Nouveau Performant Award in 1987 and the CMA Elite Award in 1990, and was presented with an honorary doctorate from the Université de Montréal's Ecole Polytechnique in 1995. He was named Fellow of the Society of Management Accountants of Canada in 2000, and Quebec MBA of the Year in 2002.

Gilles Ouimet is an individual deeply committed to social and community development, serving prominently at Centraide of Greater Montreal for numerous years and co-chairing the Fondation Hôpital Charles LeMoyne for five years. He is also involved in important cultural endeavours in the city, as chairman of the Fondation Pointe-à-Callière and member of the board of the Foundation of the Montreal Science Centre.

For many years, Gilles Ouimet has unfailingly exemplified the quintessential qualities of true leadership, with impressive skill and integrity.

Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you Gilles Ouimet, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.

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