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calin, the torchbearer

During Rovinescu’s 2014 convocation address at the University of Ottawa, where he himself obtained an LLB in 1980, he explained, alternating between fluent English and French, that “We get nowhere without courage. Courage to leave. Courage to stay.” And quoting Aristotle: “Courage is the first of the human qualities, because it is the quality that guarantees the others.” In 1961, five-year-old Calin, his father, mother and sister Olivia left Bucharest, Romania, and arrived by boat in Montreal, Quebec, and settled on Barclay Avenue in the immigrant community of Côte-des Neiges with $60 and a couple of suitcases. His father, a urologist, nearly 40 years old, was able to find work in his field as a surgeon. His mother, multilingual, with two master’s degrees and experience working in a foreign affairs department, found clerical work at Singer Sewing Machines, and Simpsons, a large department store. Rovinescu learned early on to shed any idea of entitlement or that he was owed a living. “An immigrant is optimistic about the future, but is also fundamentally insecure, which makes him sharper. He never takes anything for granted,” he told Report on Business when he was named the magazine’s 2013 CEO of the year. Rovinescu’s first glimpse of his future as CEO of Air Canada was during a lunch with Claude Taylor, Air Canada’s CEO during its transition from Crown

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corporation to privatization in the late 1980s. Rovinescu, then a managing partner at Stikeman Elliott, was lead counsel on the case. After the closings, Taylor invited him to lunch so he could pick the 30-year-old’s brain on how to move the airline successfully into the private sector. Rovinescu picked up a few pointers from Taylor, too. “Well, as you can see, that one empowering lunch has certainly had an influence on my life,” he recalled back at the convocation address. >

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PHOTO: AIR CANADA

courage to leave. courage to stay

It’s 2010, day 44 of the torch relay for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Rovinescu is torchbearer number 044-038, on a bus with 19 others, to Ottawa. Sporting the white nylon tracksuit and caps issued to all torchbearers, he blends in with the other passengers. When asked to introduce himself, he says, “I am from Montreal and I work for Air Canada.” Dave Doroghy, who was leading the introductions that day, knew Rovinescu was the airline’s CEO and was struck by his modesty. “The cool thing is that, on the bus, everybody is just another torchbearer,” he wrote in Confessions of an Olympic Torch Relay Shuttle Host. “Status, influence and income levels fall to the wayside as the torchbearers on the bus are, first and foremost, simply proud Canadians.” Nonetheless, as Doroghy watched Rovinescu take his turn in the relay, he noted: “I thought it ironic that the torchbearer before him would never know that he had just passed the flame to one of Canada’s top business executives.”

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APEX Experience 6.3 June/July  

This issue, colored LEDs, YouTube and TV box sets entertain us en route to summer destinations. At the airport, beacons beckon and GPS ensur...

APEX Experience 6.3 June/July  

This issue, colored LEDs, YouTube and TV box sets entertain us en route to summer destinations. At the airport, beacons beckon and GPS ensur...

Profile for spafax