Spring convocation: Canadian business giant receives honorary degree

(Edmonton) John Chin Sung Lau is a star of Canadian business, but he admitted to graduating students at the University of Alberta, he didn’t do it alone.

A legendary Hong Kong executive and adventurer showed Lau that risk-taking, combined with foresight and common sense, would serve him well over his career, Lau recalled. His Hong Kong mentor acquired Husky Oil, which led Lau to his 19-year career in the Canadian energy sector. 

Lau is credited with turning Husky Energy into one of Canada’s top oil and natural gas companies and his business knowledge and leadership are skills that Lau says he learned over time.
“As a non-oil and gas man in the oil and gas industry, I faced many challenges in Canada.” Lau told his audience. But he found his Canadian mentor in University of Alberta graduate Richard Haskayne, a legendary executive in Canada’s energy sector. Lau said the combination of Haskayne’s business savvy, personal ethics and acts of philanthropy helped him navigate his way through Husky to eventually lead the company. 

To take Husky through corporate change Lau relied on leadership skills honed by the executives he had worked under during his career, he said, and urged his audience to be open to the lessons others can teach them throughout life and in their careers.  Lau summed up the role of a leader as “being a visionary.”

“It is so important to look at the potential of others, to treat people with fairness. For yourself, you should expect to be judged by your actions, so you must be forever vigilant to the outcome of your actions.”

Drawing upon the wisdom of the Chinese culture, Lau also quoted philosopher Lao Tzu, “To lead people, walk beside them.”

To read a full transcript of Lau’s convocation address, click here.

To watch the entire June 14 convocation ceremony, click here.