|Gilles Lebeau, a life-long resident of Sudbury, has
travelled a long and winding journey from the time he walked off the stage
with a diploma from Ecole Secondaire Hanmer. Today he is Vice President of
Finance and Operations of one of the area's most prominent mining sector
businesses, the Mansour Group of Companies, where he is in charge of
numerous and diverse business interests and is responsible for the
livelihood of over 600 full-
and part-time employees.
Gilles was the special guest March 10, 2008 on “Inside Education”, a local talk show
on CKLU 96.7 FM that is broadcast live every Monday evening at 6 p.m. from
the studios at Laurentian University. Robert Kirwan, an Independent Education &
Career Development Specialist who operates a private practice called The
Greater Sudbury Learning Clinic, is the producer and host of the program
which consists of an engaging conversation with a person from a different
career field each week. The purpose of the show is to provide listeners
with some valuable down-to-earth insight and information which may prove
helpful for those who are looking for tips and strategies that will help
them become more successful in their current or future careers.
After high school, Mr. Lebeau went on to attend Laurentian
University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the
School of Business and Commerce in 1982. From there he went to Toronto
where he worked as a Chartered Accountant for two and a half years with a
large company that had over 2000 accountants in its employ. He soon tired of
the "mass of humanity" in the big city and after gaining a
wealth of experience in a short time he returned to Sudbury to work for
KPMG for the next ten years.
"After being in the accounting business for
over a dozen years, I decided that I wanted a change. It was a nice career
and I respect and admire anyone working in the accounting field, but I
felt that I needed something different. That's when I decided to try my
the Public Sector for a while," explained Lebeau who stated that if
he was going to do it all over again he would have pursued a career in
medicine but when he was in high school he didn't pay enough attention to
getting high marks. He stated that he likes the idea of saving lives and
would have enjoyed a career in the health field. "People in the
public sector work very hard and during my two years with them I certainly
gained a new level of respect for what they do."
He was then
offered a position with Sandvik, in what he refered to as an
'institutionalized company'. He spent ten years with that firm, eventually
rising to the position of President of the Canadian arm of the
international company. When the head office decided to restructure and
close up the Canadian Division, Lebeau was offered the position he
currently fills with Mansour Group of Companies.
"Working for a
grass roots company like Mansour Group is a lot different than working for
Sandvik," explained Lebeau. "With Sandvik, if I had an idea to
propose to head office I had to go through several stages of presentations
and often wait months for approval. This is often the case with any large
organization. They must be careful to make sure all of their decisions are
consistent with general company policy and as a result there are many
checks and balances to protect the integrity of the system. With the Mansour Group, I just go down
the hall to our owner, Milad Mansour and he gives me an answer right away.
It is this speed of decision-making which gives smaller companies an edge
over larger institutions when it comes to capitalizing on opportunities.
And a man like Milad Mansour has certainly made the most of his
Gilles has nothing but praise for the founder of
Mansour Mining. Milad Mansour came over to Canada from Lebanon at the age
of 16 with absolutely nothing. "He started shoveling driveways during
his first winter and told the owners of the homes that they could pay him
if they wanted. He said he had nothing else to do so he may as well be
doing something useful. With the first bit of money he earned shoveling,
he bought a pair of winter boots because he said it was cold shoveling in
Today, Milad Mansour is a millionaire and is still
"working on a hundred different projects at a time."
biggest challenge in the industry right now is to be able to hire
competent people," Gilles commented. "I look for people who are
enthusiastic, creative, and confident. We need people who are competitive,
because everything in business today is competitive and if you aren't
looking for new and better ways of providing services and products to your
customers you won't survive."
Gilles is a strong proponent of using
"mentoring" to one's advantage. He even commented that young
people today should not be afraid of competition from baby boomers, but
they definitely should try to learn everything they can from these people
while they are still on the job.
He feels that young students should
decide what it is that they love to do and then pursue a career in that
field. "If you are good at what you do, and you do it with a lot of
enthusiasm and energy, you are going to make a lot of money. It will just
happen naturally. That is the secret to success. You must first of all
decide what it is you are good at and that you like. Then go forward from
there and learn from people who are successful in that field. Find a
"mentor" who will teach you what you need to know to be
He also encourages students to utilize employment
agencies as much as possible when looking for work. "I seldom put job
wanted ads in newspapers. The last thing I want to do is go through
hundreds of resumes. I usually just call up a company like Levert
Personnel and let them send me several prospects. I then do the final
interviews until I am satisfied I have found a good person for the
He also stated that he relies a lot on "referrals from
people he trusts and respects" when it comes to filling vacancies in
his company. "I don't support nepotism, but if a valued employee is
willing to vouch for you, I will at least give you consideration for any
vacancy I may have. It gets your foot in the door, so be prepared to do a
lot of networking and get to know a lot of different people."
I hire a person I tell him that I cannot guarantee him a job for life, but
I can guarantee that I will make him marketable so that he will not have
any trouble getting another job if he ever has to leave our company,"
he commented. "I think that is something that all young people must
work a little harder on. They must try to market themselves a lot better
than they are today. It is the little things that count, like being on
time, being neat and organized, being polite and respectful of others, and
genuinely and sincerely trying to learn everything you can about
everything you can all of the time.
Indeed, one of Gilles'
favourite quotations is, "True learning happens at the edge of your
comfort zone. It is only when you push yourself and when you are willing
to take the hard road, not the easy way out, that you truly learn. That is
what makes the difference between excellence and mediocrity."
final bit of wisdom, Gilles Lebeau wants young people to remember that
"There is only one thing that no one can take away from you, and that
is your reputation. Guard it carefully and it will serve you well."
always remember that the people who do the hiring today believe as he
does, namely that, "I always hire on attitude. I can teach everything
else, but I can't teach attitude. Without the proper attitude, you are not
going to be much use to anyone."