2005 Economic Economic

Born in Sudbury, Ontario, in 1954, Paul Desmarais Jr. studied at McGill University where he obtained a Bachelor of Commerce degree. He then graduated from the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) in Fontainebleau, France, with a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA). He is chairman and co-CEO of Power Corporation of Canada (PCC), and chairman of the Executive Committee of Power Financial Corporation (PFC).

Prior to joining Power Corporation in 1981, Mr. Desmarais served with S.G. Warburg & Co in London, England, and  with Standard Brands Incorporated in New York. In 1984, he was appointed vice-president of Power Financial Corporation, a company he helped establish. Two years later, he took the reins as the company’s president and chief operating officer and, in 1990, was named chairman. He has held his current position at PCC since 1996. Making outstanding contributions in his field, he has tackled many business issues with aplomb and instilled a corporate culture that has become the envy of businesses around the world. Moreover, he has demonstrated tremendous generosity through his philanthropic endeavours, which have also produced spinoffs for the entire community.

Paul Desmarais Jr. serves on the board and Executive Committee of several Power group companies, including Great-West Lifeco and IGM Financial, as well as their main subsidiaries. He is also vice-chairman of the board and managing director of Pargesa Holding S.A.; vice-chairman of the board of Imerys; and board member of Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, Total S.A. and Suez.

Moreover, Mr. Desmarais is a member of both the Board of Directors and the  International Council of  the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD); chairman of the Board of Governors of the International Economic Forum of the Americas, founder and chairman of the International Advisory Committee of HEC Montréal; as well as founder and member of the International Advisory Board of the McGill University Faculty of Management.

He received the Medal of the Confederation commemorating the 125th anniversary of Canadian Confederation in 1992; the “insigne d’Officier de l’Ordre de la Couronne (Belgique) in 1994; and the Golden Jubilee medal from Queen Elizabeth II. In March 2005, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2005 received the ”Executive of the Year” award from the Academy of International Business (AIB).