Richard Lapointe, BComm 90, is still looking for “the one” — the brilliant, driven student who will change the world. It’s a quest that drives him to contribute more and more to an entry bursary he created for deserving John Molson School of Business students through the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen Now.
The senior portfolio manager at CIBC Wood Gundy, whose distinctive radio ads have made him a household name in English-speaking Montreal, started thinking a little more than 20 years ago about how he could give back. He thought about Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, entrepreneurial moguls who have had an outsized influence on how the world works and communicates.
“They developed their ideas from a young age,” Lapointe says. “So, I said to myself, ‘I’ve got to encourage that, I’ve got to expand that.’”
While Lapointe, 54, had been a regular donor to a variety of major charities, he began to ask himself, “Am I really making a difference?”
He wasn’t sure he was. “But I know that if I inspire one mind — if one mind could become even a fraction of those men, I can have a significant impact,” he says.
He went about creating the Richard Lapointe Bursary at Concordia to support undergraduate students. What began in 2007 as support for one student per year has now grown to four students pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce — and Lapointe is hoping to support 10 in the coming year. His most recent pledge, in 2021, was $50,000.
“My intent is to help kids get through school so they, too, give back,” Lapointe says. “I am completely convinced that the only way we can fix the problems of today is with the minds of tomorrow.”
But who inspired him? A friend and mentor named Stanley Merovitz, who once told him, “The money that you have is not all meant for you,” Lapointe recalls. “He said, ‘Create something that’s about you and that inspires you.’”
Lapointe, who had enjoyed interacting with students whenever Concordia asked him to speak to a group or a class, decided that the university, and specifically the John Molson School, would be the ideal vehicle to fulfill his dream of finding “the one” and making a difference.
“Concordia is an excellent school,” he says. “And I find that John Molson has expanded Concordia phenomenally. There’s no reason I wouldn’t give there.”
A ‘top-notch’ education’
Lapointe, who out of high school and CEGEP wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a portfolio manager, credits Concordia as a transformative chapter in his life.
“Concordia was my best educational experience,” he recalls. “I got along well with the teachers, I met tremendous friends there and developed relationships that I still maintain today,” he says. “The entire experience was a rejuvenation for me. I became much more social. I picked up everything I could about finance. It was top-notch.”
Lapointe stepped out of Concordia and into Wood Gundy soon after graduation. The relationships he fostered at the university helped him to branch out and meet new people who would become clients — he developed solid business relationships along the way, too, he adds.
But establishing the bursary at Concordia has been the most fulfilling of Lapointe’s giving. “I’m hoping I can inspire the recipients.”
Considering the world’s problems, he adds, “We need them.”