Paul Desmarais Jr.
Chairman & Co-CEO
Power Corporation of Canada
Paul Desmarais Jr. is one of Canada’s most prominent business people. Presently the Chairman and Co-CEO of Power Corporation of Canada, alongside his brother, André Desmarais, the Desmarais brothers took over the company from their father.
Under the leadership of Paul’s family, Power Corporation of Canada is not only committed to excellence in business, but has also been an important contributor to the social and economic development of Canada.
A member of the INSEAD Board, Paul also founded the Canadian INSEAD Foundation. As a result of the Foundation, INSEAD has received great publicity in Canada and many Canadians have chosen to do their MBA at INSEAD because they receive financial aid from the organisation.
A father of four successful sons, Paul is extremely proud of his family and delighted that one of his sons is currently attending INSEAD.
Of Canadian nationality, Paul studied business at McGill University in Quebec before joining the family business for a year. Following a summer internship at Paribas International in Paris, Paul applied to do an MBA at INSEAD. It was a colleague at Paribas who suggested INSEAD to Paul so that he could take a position in the international team.
“He suggested that I complement my European work with an MBA from INSEAD which would be a constructive change, since I had only been educated in America.”
Paul says that his days at INSEAD were ‘memorable’, as he learned many things about business but more importantly about himself. He also made many friends. “These friendships with people of varied backgrounds helped open up a whole new world to me.” It was also a special year for Paul who proposed to his wife at INSEAD during his MBA year. “It all worked out wonderfully, and we are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary this year.”
He also remembers “the endless arguments which often went on until the wee hours of the morning”, saying “One would incessantly argue a point, which seemed of huge importance at the time, only to have our professor contradict our beliefs when we got back our corrected paper.”
Mr. Desmarais spent many years working in Europe after completing his MBA but has now adopted a life which straddles two continents. “I feel this has added a lot of richness, not only in my business career, but also in my family and personal life as well.”
Professionally, Paul is very proud of having been a part of a team of executives who have continued to build a successful conglomerate in Canada which also has activities in the US, Europe and China.
“My ambition in the future is to work with my sons developing different business avenues for both our company and our family and to continue to work with our teams to further develop our group internationally.”
In 2005, Mr. Desmarais won the Executive of the Year Award from the Academy of International Business (AIB). The AIB is the world’s leading association of scholars and specialists in the field of international business with over 3,000 members in 65 countries.
Paul is a key member of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives (CCCE), a lobby group that co-governs the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) of North America.