Source: St. Mary's University
Stephen Leahey: "Work hard and always give back to your community"
October 13, 2006
Leahey, there is only one thing that he attributes to his success in life —
Saint Mary’s University.
He came to the University in 1959 in his mid teens to earn an Engineering
Degree. Being from Pugwash, Nova Scotia — a small village which had the
population of no more than 600 or so people back then — he was nervous about
coming to the city and earning a degree from the then Jesuit-run
"I had no idea what to expect when I first arrived here," laughs Leahey
during an interview.
"I was just a kid from a little village, so coming to the Halifax to attend
Saint Mary’s with my twin brother Douglas was a whole new experience for me.
I must admit, it was a hair-raising experience, but totally worth it," he
Leahey recalls how the Jesuits ran a tight ship. "You never wanted to miss
mass back then," he says.
"They [the Jesuits] would ding you twenty-five cents if you missed mass.
They also made sure we wore ties, dress shirts and nice slacks and were very
strict. But they taught us key values in life: work hard and always give
back to your community. We were always reminded of this as students, and to
this day I always say that this is the reason why I have been successful."
He also remembers how hard his first year was as a student.
"Coming here was a real transition for me," he says. "I never worked so hard
in my entire life. I was under a lot of pressure to do well. It all however
came to pass and I made it over any barriers that were in the way."
He certainly did.
After graduating from the University, he then went on to earn an Engineering
Degree from the Technical University of Nova Scotia (now DalTech). Shortly
after this accomplishment, he received his Master of Business Administration
(MBA) Degree in 1966 from Queen’s University.
"I enjoyed my educational experience at Saint Mary’s," he says. "The thrill
of learning stuck with me. I am proud to have learned more about the field
of engineering and business at the graduate level of study."
His professional career is quite remarkable.
He joined Bell Canada in the late 1960’s in the Plant Department and then
moved his way up the ladder to Divisional Construction Manager in Toronto,
Ontario. Subsequently, he held five Vice-Presidential positions in
economics, systems development, corporate performance, quality and strategic
"Bell Canada was a great outfit to work for," he says. "It was challenging
as I had lots of people working under me and I had a lot of
responsibilities. But again, I worked hard, just as I learned while a
student at Saint Mary’s, and I enjoyed every minute of my time with the
After leaving Bell in the late 1980’s, he went on to open his own company,
the Canadian Quality Management Centre, a successful consulting firm which
he still owns.
In the early 1990’s, his wife Dennice was offered a Regional President’s
position with the Royal Bank in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
When the couple moved West, Leahey began a contract position with the
Manitoba Government in the economic development field enhancing this
province’s information and telecommunications infrastructure. He was also
the founding President of the Manitoba Innovation Network, a non-profit
company supported by all levels of government, whose mission it was to
accelerate Manitoba’s move into the information economy.
Over a period of two years, he increased the budget of the Manitoba
Innovation Network from $20,000.00 to $650,000.00, while attracting more
than 60 members and sponsors. When departing from "The Peg," he was
presented with the coveted Honorary Citizen Award by the Mayor for his
contributions to the City.
He also has a long list of other accomplishments. He has taught strategic
planning at McGill University, done research at the University of Montreal,
and for a number of years was a director of the Executive Development
program at Williams College. His past directorships include the American
Productivity and Quality Centre, the Canadian Healthcare Telematics
Corporation, the EDI Council of Canada, TRLabs, the Canadian Electronic
Commerce Committee, Positron Fiber Systems, the Montreal Chamber of Music
and the Manitoba Theatre Centre.
Now retired and living in both Halifax and Pugwash, Leahey still remains
busy working and giving back to the community.
For the last three years, he has sat on the Board of Directors for the
Museums of Nova Scotia and the Board of the Northumberland Golf Club.
He is also the founding Chairman of the Pugwash Peace Exchange, and founding
President of the Pugwash Estuary.
"The Pugwash Peace Exchange has been an exciting project and truly an honour
to be a part of," he says. "We are now preparing to raise $6 million to
secure its future growth. Our goal is to always attract and educate people
from around the world about nuclear disarmament and the Human Security
Recently, he even released a book, Stories from the Lobster Fishery of
Cumberland’s Northern Shore. The profits from this work all go to the North
Cumberland Historical Society.
"I really enjoyed writing this book," he says. "Some of my relatives were
lobster people, so for me there was a romantic appeal to this project. Also,
the real reward with releasing this work is giving back to the region and to
the North Cumberland Historical Society."
Certainly, Leahey has been living a good life and always will.
"Living a good life is not about being rich," he says. "I learned this at
Saint Mary’s. My life is based on hard work, and community outreach. This is
why I have a good life, and I owe it all to Saint Mary’s."
Saint Mary's University is known for its community outreach projects, both
in Canada and around the world. Saint Mary's, founded in 1802, is home to
one of Canada's leading business schools, a Science Faculty widely known for
its cutting-edge research, a comprehensive and innovative Arts Faculty and a
vibrant Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research.
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