Beedie Alumni Celebration: Ryan Beedie extols the virtues of family valuesMar 14, 2016
A strong sense of moral values passed down from father to son has stood Ryan Beedie in good stead throughout his career. Prioritizing doing the right thing over financial cost has ensured long-term success for the Beedie Group since Ryan’s father, Keith, established it in 1954 – and Ryan has no intention of abandoning these values now.
Ryan Beedie delivered this inspiring message at a special Beedie School of Business Alumni Celebration event, held on March 10 at the Segal Graduate School. The highlight of the evening was an intimate fireside chat between Ryan and Riaz Meghji, co-host of Breakfast Television Vancouver, and a Beedie School of Business alumnus.
The evening offered an opportunity for Beedie staff, faculty, and alumni to reconnect – as well as a chance to pay homage to the Beedie family, and demonstrate their gratitude for the $22 million donation the family made to the school in 2011. It also saw the presentation of a commemorative plaque to Ryan, marking five successful years since the transformational gift.
In the wide-ranging interview, Ryan Beedie – one of BC’s most prominent and successful businessmen – bared his soul on a variety of topics, including the value of integrity, his initial desire to prove himself in the business world, and the immense pride he takes from hearing about the opportunities his gift has created at the Beedie School of Business.
“I will say this until the day I die: the SFU gift is the best thing I have done in my career, and it just keeps getting better and better,” said Ryan Beedie. “We are so fortunate to have taken what was already a good school and made it even better. Every few weeks I see a student in the paper describing the amazing things they have done. It takes a while to sink in, but the feeling is wonderful.”
The SFU gift is not the Beedie family’s only foray into philanthropic efforts, however. The family donates in the region of one million dollars every year to a variety of charities.
In 2001, at the age of 32, Ryan became the President of the Beedie Development Group, and has since overseen a successful expansion of the company’s operations. Riaz asked Ryan to talk about some of the highs and lows he had faced during this incredible journey, and offer details on some of the business practices he used to achieve this success.
He described the core values of the business as dependability, loyalty, and honour, using an anecdote of an old project to illustrate the importance of these values. A situation had arisen where it became apparent that an engineer had made a mistake when designing 15 buildings the company had built some 22 years ago – a mistake that meant that the buildings had in fact not been designed to code.
“I immediately said that we have to fix these buildings,” said Ryan. I didn’t care if we reclaimed the insurance on them or not, and I knew that the insurance claim could drag on for a long time. We didn’t have any legal requirement on us to take action, but the right thing to do was fix them.”
Taking on the leadership role within a family business can often prove a daunting task, yet Ryan’s father Keith Beedie provided all the support and advice necessary to ensure that the transition for Ryan was a smooth one – and at the same time providing Ryan with the freedom to run the company as he saw fit.
Explaining how he managed any insecurity concerning his ability to lead, Ryan revealed that a breakout moment for him was winning the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2009.
“Getting recognition from an amazing organization and judges based on what I have done as a leader was an important moment,” he said. “When I was younger I wanted to differentiate myself from my father. I was coming into the business world and had this iconic figure as a dad. That motivated me for a long time. I’m well past that now, but those are areas in the past that I have felt insecure.”
Closing, Riaz asked what was the best piece of advice Ryan could offer the audience. He replied that it came down to being honest, and being yourself.
“Conduct yourself in an ethical, consistent, and appropriate manner where your company and personal brand is unquestionable, and people can rely on what you are saying” he said. “If we decide to work with a client are they going to be happy? It’s about five, ten, fifteen years from now – it’s about the long term. That’s what governs us.”