Wind Mobile founder and U of T alumnus inspires Engineering students
Before Anthony Lacavera became the chairman and CEO of Globalive Communications Inc. and WIND Mobile, he was a computer engineering student at the University of Toronto hoping to make an impact on Canada and the world.
Last week, 1,400 first-year engineering students gathered at Convocation Hall to kick off their academic career at U of T with a visit from the entrepreneur and telecommunications executive – along with leaders from the Faculty of Engineering.
“When I look out, I see future leaders of our country,” said Lacavera. “You have a wonderful journey ahead.”
This year’s incoming U of T Engineering students make up the strongest class in the Faculty’s history, entering university with a collective average of 91.3 per cent, said Dean Cristina Amon.
“Like you here today, Anthony is the best among the best,” Amon said. She reminded students that they are starting out at the very best engineering school in Canada, adding “and, I believe, soon to be the best in the world.”
“Students, today you begin a journey – a journey not without its challenges, but you didn’t decide to study Engineering because you thought it might be easy. You came here seeking a challenge,” she added.
Overcoming challenges was one of the messages of Lacavera’s lecture. As head of two of the leading, fastest-growing companies in Canada, he experienced his share of setbacks before turning WIND Mobile into Canada’s first independent wireless carrier in more than a decade, and a powerful industry competitor.
Humility, persistence and hard work got him there, Lacavera told the students. He urged them to value their time at U of T Engineering and build relationships – even asking students to introduce themselves to the person beside them – and nurture their entrepreneurial spirit.
“You need an entrepreneurial spirit to turn an idea that will change the world, into reality,” he said.
Lacavera turned his vision of a more globally competitive telecommunications market into reality in 1998 – just one year after graduating – when he launched Globalive Communications. He then initiated a groundbreaking public engagement campaign to ask Canadians what they wanted in wireless service. Building on feedback from thousands of Canadians, Lacavera launched WIND Mobile in 2009, a wireless provider now used by more than half a million Canadians.
He’s been named CEO of the Year for 2010 by Globe and Mail’s Report on Business Magazine and one of Canada's Top 40 Under 40. Lacavera is also the founder of the Shamba Foundation, a charity that provides event space and staff at no-cost for charitable fundraisers. He told his audience he hopes to hear the same stories of triumph and philanthropy from them one day.