When I was a kid, my friends and I used to sneak into Royal Roads through the back gates and walk along the beach and fish in the ponds. Do you know there’s cutthroat trout in those ponds? Beautiful fish! We finally got caught by the Commissionaires. We were a lot faster than they were, but they ambushed us and took us up to the castle and our fathers had to come and get us. At the time, I never thought I’d be a military guy.
One day, I was at the opening of the Parliament buildings and I saw these guys in red uniforms wearing little monkey hats, as I used to call them. They came marching up and I thought, “Wow, is that ever sharp. What’s that all about?” They told me they were Royal Roads cadets.
I went down to the local recruiting station and got in. I was very athletic and I had the academics, but I was not military at all.
I can still remember the very first day, the cadets came marching down the stairs in their scarlets and made us stand to attention. I didn’t know what I was doing. I sort of slid my feet together and went bang! – face first into the ground. I fainted.
It was 1974 when I began my studies and I was one of the first Asian cadets. The discipline and the leadership training were amazing. They taught us all the theory and we practiced it as if we were in the real military. I learned that to be a good leader, you have to be a good follower too.
I was a fast-flyer in the military, but I didn’t serve much time. I left as a very young lieutenant colonel. I was just being promoted, when CAE (Canadian Aviation Electronics) asked me to come onboard as the director of engineering. At that time, CAE was the largest flight simulator company in the world. I went on to hold various executive roles in aerospace companies in North America. One thing that the military system taught me was comradeship and working with others.
I retired when I was 48. I still do some engineering consulting on the side, but not much because I am so busy with volunteer work here in the West Shore. At Royal Roads, I’m on the advisory council for the School of Business and on the gala committee for the 75th anniversary. I’m also a judge for the International Undergraduate Case Competition and the Alumni Awards. I keep myself fairly busy.
Experiencing the case competitions really turned me on to Royal Roads. The kids are a different breed – they’re very, very smart. I saw some solutions that were so innovative. I thought, “Wow, I would have never thought of that. That’s incredible.” I was so impressed, I wanted to continue to be involved.
I just want to be part of the university. It makes me a better person. It’s me giving back what was given to me. Royal Roads is responsible for who I am today. If I can play a small role in someone’s life, I’m happy.