Honorary degree citation - John W. Dobson*
By: A. Bakr Ibrahim, June 2002
Mr. Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you John W. Dobson, founder and chairman of the highly successful investment company, Formula Growth Limited, a leader whose professional accomplishments are invariably matched by his contributions to education and community.
John Dobson is an innovative entrepreneur who, for the past four decades has had a remarkable influence on generations of new entrepreneurs throughout North America. His great success has benefited universities across Canada. His philanthropic support has also allowed a multitude of individuals, in Montreal particularly, to realize their entrepreneurial dreams.
Born in Montreal, John Dobson attended Selwyn House School in Westmount, and Trinity College School in Ontario. He earned his undergraduate degree in commerce from McGill University in 1949, and followed this with an MBA from the Harvard Business School. He began his career with the large Montreal industrial manufacturer, Dominion Engineering Works, where he served as assistant to the president.
In 1960, he established the Formula Growth Fund. It started as an investing club, made up of a group of friends with starting capital of $134,000. Over the years, friends and family of the original members joined in. And over the next four decades, under Mr. Dobson's wise guidance, Formula Growth became a runaway success story. The company now manages a portfolio of over $400-million for 800 well-contented investors, and accepts new investors only at the rate that former ones depart. Eager investors should know, however, that for the last 15 years, the membership attrition has been about one per cent a year.
The company's strategy has always been bottom-up, and focused on emerging growth stocks in the United States. Its managers are highly innovative and expert at identifying growth engines. Over its 42 years, the Formula Growth Fund has experienced compound growth of over 16 per cent yearly. A number of the companies held in the portfolios have been up ten- to fifty-fold. This is a remarkable accomplishment for any player in the volatile world of financial markets. In addition, Formula Growth Limited manages a $550-million portfolio for institutional investors, Canadian tax-exempt institutions seeking exposure to the U.S. growth sector.
John W. Dobson is an impressive entrepreneur, not just in terms of his success building the Formula Growth Fund, but because he is a momentous leader in business education in Canada. The benefits of his professional achievements, flowing through the John Dobson Foundation, are shared with his community. He is identified with many entrepreneurship programs at universities in Canada including McGill, Acadia, Bishop's, Brock, Mount Allison and the University of Waterloo. The John Dobson Foundation has also provided support to the Association of Collegiate Entrepreneurs - Canada, and Youth Employment Services in Montreal.
And, of course, John Dobson is a great friend of Concordia University. He is supporting the Formula Growth Investment Room in the newly launched Investment and Trading Centre, the Dobson Program for Technology Entrepreneurs, he has supported for many years the MBA Case Competition, a key annual activity in the John Molson School of Business and is a mentor in The Kenneth Woods Portfolio Management Program. True to his hands-on leadership style, Mr. Dobson not only supports these initiatives at Concordia, he gets involved, too.
On the economic front, John Dobson has been fighting for many years for the elimination of high capital gains tax. He presented a brief to the Standing Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce in 2000 and enjoyed a victory the following year, when the governments partially reduced this tax.
On a lighter note, John Dobson balances the financial side of his life with yet another unpredictable activity: golf. He has played 561 golf courses throughout the world, of which he remembers every single hole!
John Dobson currently serves as an adviser to the National Citizens Coalition, and director of the Fraser Institute, and is a member of the International Faculty Advisory Board for the McGill Faculty of Management. In 1997, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Successful, extremely kind, an entrepreneur of sterling character, John Dobson is an inspiration. Many are thankful for his contributions to their personal, professional and educational achievements.
Mr. Chancellor, on behalf of Senate and the Board of Governors, it is my privilege and an honour to present to you, Dr. John W. Dobson, so that you may confer upon him the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.