Friend of Education - 2002

Raymond Décarie
Chairman, Affinity Market Group, Meloche Monnex Financial Services Inc.

Raymond Decarie

The CCAE Friend of Education Award honours outstanding service or commitment to post-secondary education by an individual or corporation who make a significant contribution in a leadership role to the cause of institutional advancement or education in Canada

The 2002 CCAE Friend of Education Award recipient is Raymond (Ray) A. Décarie, Chairman, Affinity Market Group, Meloche Monnex Financial Services Inc.

Mr. Décarie was born and educated in Montreal, where he studied at Loyola (Concordia) and McGill (B.Comm., 1966).

Photo: Elaine Cadell, President, CCAE, Friend of Education winner Raymond Décarie and former Chairman of the Affinity Market Group, Meloche Monnex, Gil Desautels

He joined Meloche Monnex in 1966 and over the next several years he served in various capacities including comptroller, vice-president (finance), executive vice-president and board member. In 1976, he moved to Paris as Managing Director of the Société Générale de Courtage d’ Assurance (S.C.C.A.).

Over his 36 years with Meloche Monnex, Mr. Décarie was a leader in the establishment of group partnerships. He led the affinity market group as Meloche Monnex made its move into the university and college marketplace and formed the strategic direction the company has taken in support of higher education in Canada.

Under his leadership, Meloche Monnex has earned a reputation as the leading provider of advice and assistance in the personal insurance sector for universities and colleges in Canada.

Mr. Décarie was also instrumental in the creation of the Meloche Monnex Fellowship in Alumni Affairs program, a forward-thinking initiative that offers opportunities for training and education in the profession of alumni relations and, in the broader context, institutional advancement.

Mr. Décarie is married to Louise, and has three daughters: Catherine, Isabelle, and Alexandra. He officially retired after a lifetime of service to Meloche Monnex in April 2002.


Acceptance Speech: Raymond Décarie

Following is the acceptance speech given by Raymond Décarie, recently retired chair of the affinity market group, Meloche Monnex, as this year’s winner of the CCAE friend of Education Award. He received the award June 9 at the CCAE national conference in Saskatoon:

I feel a bit awkward about receiving the friend of education award. Supporting education is certainly on the daily agenda of everyone in this room and it is a huge personal honour that you have selected me to be the recipient of this award tonight.

Whether or not we have the formal academic training, we all have the capacity, and indeed the responsibility, to educate ourselves and those around us. Anyone who has had a role in bringing up a child knows that you don’t have to be an academic to fulfill an important role as an educator.

In fact, Louise and I have three daughters, all university graduates, and one is continuing her post-PhD studies at Harvard. But, despite their formal education, hopefully the most important lesson they have learned is one that we tried to instill in them long ago – the value of perseverance and hard work.

For me, education is not the final answer – it provides us with the means to reach the answer. Our role as educators, administrators or businesspeople is to create the environment where independent thinking can flourish within the context of the lessons of the past. We must always allow room for new ideas and concepts that challenge the old.

In the words of the Swiss philosopher and psychologist Jean Piaget (1896–1980) "the principal goal of education is to create men (and women) who are capable of doing new things, not simply of repeating what other generations have done."

When I started in this business it was in a financial capacity as an auditor. As my career progressed in the financial side of the organization I watched as the vision of our founder, Jean Meloche, materialized into a sound strategy of developing partnerships with professional groups that shared a common affinity. This was the beginning of our affinity market group. After a 12-year stint in Europe for the company, I returned to Montreal where I was then given the opportunity to take a much more active role in the business development side of our operations.

This new mandate included establishing relationships with many of the institutions represented in the room here tonight. Coincidentally at about the same time, Ann Vroom of Concordia university (which includes my alma mater of Loyola college) also asked me to get involved with various fundraising activities. And the rest, as the saying goes, is history.

Today I am proud to say that Meloche Monnex has developed partnerships with educational institutions from coast to coast and the vast majority of our clients are university graduates, either as members of student or alumni associations or in their respective professional fields. We have supported the educational community through various sponsorships and scholarships and, as you all know, in 1998 we assumed responsibility for the CCAE fellowship awards.

I have been very fortunate to have worked with such excellent people over the years, especially with many of you – clients, partners and friends. Together, we have all worked hard to build effective affinity programs that have proven to be beneficial to both parties – and, admittedly, we had some fun in the process. If we can lend a helping hand to just a few students who go on to achieve their dreams then we will have accomplished much.

It is an oft-repeated phrase – "the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow." and sometimes this thought makes us shudder as we see hairstyles and dress codes that seem incongruous with the traditional image of corporate Canada. But I have a feeling many of the things we did in our youthful days made our parents shudder too! With the appropriate levels of both public and private support, our educational institutions will continue to produce the scientists, artists, professionals, educators and businesspeople who have distinguished our country both here and around the world.

There are many ways for the private sector to support education, and I salute those companies that offer special scholarships, support work/study programs or employ recent graduates as part of an apprentice or "stage" program. I always derived great pleasure from Meloche Monnex’s participation in programs of this nature.

My years of involvement with the CCAE and with your respective colleges and universities will be among the most memorable moments of my career. I have made many new friends as a result and I can’t think of a better way to end my career than by receiving the award that you have bestowed upon me tonight. Thank you again, and I wish all of you the very best in continuing to develop innovative programs to benefit your students and graduates in the years ahead.