Respected entrepreneur Jacques Deschênes and his three sons, Martin, François and Éric, have just made history at HEC Montréal by becoming the first foursome of governors to hail from the same family. Through a joint donation of a half-million dollars, they will be empowering the HEC Montréal Family Business Centre to extend its reach.
To date, the members of the Deschênes family have generously donated more than $1 million to support the Family Business Centre. For the family patriarch, the centre — his brainchild — is an immense source of pride.
“It is my sincere belief that the values and strengths we have in Quebec deserve to be nurtured,” says Mr. Deschênes, whose own company has been in the family for three generations. “I have always made a point of helping Quebec entrepreneurs grow their businesses and aspire to, and achieve, greater things.”
The HEC Montréal Family Business Centre, funded by the Deschênes, Molson and Lesage families, is committed to educating, supporting, training and equipping business families in their succession planning, ownership transfer, governance and development efforts.
As the senior Deschênes puts it, “When I started planning my departure from the family company, I was lucky to connect with people along the way who could help me and give me the tools and resources I needed to make it happen. That’s when I realized that there was a real need for this among family-owned firms. This centre provides them with the ideas and insights they need to ensure the long-term viability of their business.”
From one generation to the next, the Deschênes family has been singularly generous in their support of HEC Montréal. Jacques and Martin were already members of the Conseil des Gouverneurs and were thrilled when François and Éric joined the ranks. “We all have close ties to the School,” adds Mr. Deschênes. “Martin and François got degrees here. Éric has attended a number of executive education programs. And the courses I’ve taken have had a tremendous impact. HEC Montréal was a real revelation to me.”
The Conseil des Gouverneurs is a group of major donors who have given or pledged $100,000 or more to HEC Montréal over a 10-year period. “Its 127 members are leaders in philanthropy whose generosity helps us rank as one of the world’s top business schools,” says a grateful Michel Patry, President and CEO of the HEC Montréal Foundation. “Our governors’ contributions are essential to our research programs, numerous scholarships and our initiatives to improve the student experience and secure the School’s future, such as our new building downtown, the capital campaign for which is currently in full swing.”