Mining tycoon, published author, philanthropist, family man – these are just some of the words used to describe Pierre Lassonde, this year’s winner of the Robert Elver Mineral Economics Award. Selected for “his landmark contributions, visionary efforts and entrepreneurial-driven spirit in transforming the Canadian mineral economics field,” Lassonde embarked on the fast track to success at the onset of his mining career.
Today he strives for more balance in his life. “I try to divide my time almost in thirds: business, philanthropy and personal or family time,” he says. On the work front, Lassonde is chair of Franco-Nevada Corporation and a director at New Gold Inc.. “I enjoy helping young entrepreneurs in the diamond, gold and base metals industries,” he says. “It keeps me pretty busy.”
Last summer, Lassonde spent close to three months in France with his family, soaking up French food, language and lifestyle. “It’s a perfect way to mix business and pleasure,” he adds. From a European base, it is easy for him to travel to London or Mauritania, where Franco-Nevada holds royalties in Kinross’ operation. “I need to go kick the tires, to check it out once in a while,” he says.
As a philanthropist, Lassonde is involved in a great number of pursuits. He is a staunch supporter of education, made evident by his contributions to a number of universities both here and in the United States: the University of Utah’s Pierre Lassonde Entrepreneur Center, the University of Toronto’s Lassonde Mineral Engineering Program, and various buildings at Western University and École Polytechnique. As chair of the Quebec National Art Museum in Quebec City, he is leading the fundraising campaign for a $100 million expansion. “I’ve been collecting [art] for over 30 years now,” he says. “It’s a real passion for me.”
Lassonde stresses the importance of investing in the community in which one lives. “If you want to make a difference, you have to pick where you want your support to be,” he advises. “I’ve said it a thousand times – the natural resource of a country is not its commodities, but its people. So that is what we invest in.”
Though work and philanthropy keep him busy, Lassonde ensures family time remains a top priority. The importance of maintaining a balanced life has been a life lesson for him. “Work can be so much fun, but even having fun can kill you,” he explains. “You can end up separated from your family because you lose sight of what’s truly important.”