Welsh billionaire visits campus

Queen’s welcomes Sir Terry Matthews at Goodes Hall

Sir Terry Matthews spoke to an audience of Queen’s students and faculty at Goodes Hall on Thursday.
Sir Terry Matthews spoke to an audience of Queen’s students and faculty at Goodes Hall on Thursday.

A rapt audience of over 120 faculty members and students gathered in Goodes Hall on Thursday afternoon to welcome international business magnate Sir Terry Matthews.

As Wales’ first billionaire, Matthews is best known for his work in the high-tech communications field, having founded and funded over 120 companies. The most notable among them are Mitel and Newbridge Networks — the latter founded by Queen’s graduates.

During the talk, his message was clear — the time for tech is now. 

“This city produces some of the brightest minds, and amid the rapidly evolving economy, the possibilities are endless,” he said.

“The key is developing an idea based on clientele demand, and moving globally with it quickly.”

Matthews has been honoured for his work in the tech industry. In 2001, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the industry and to Wales.  

As a strong proponent of small business entrepreneurship, he highlighted the importance of quickly responding and adapting to changing market needs. 

“The ability to make decisions swiftly is a crucial advantage over the tech giants, who have a much longer deliberation process. If you move fast, you can beat them,” he said.

Matthews added that entrepreneurs must think on a global scale. Companies that are successful on a small scale, but are reluctant to risk going global, are ultimately wiped out by the ones who do, he said.

“If you don’t go global at your first chance, you’re dead,” he said.

While no stranger to global markets, Matthews said there’s a need to develop and retain homegrown talent in Canada, and not lose them to places like Silicon Valley. 

Matthews also offered advice to prospective entrepreneurs in the audience. 

“Don’t rush into starting a company. Get a job that grants exposure to clients, and then develop a positive image in their eyes, an image that garners you trust and long-term support,” he said.

At numerous points throughout his 50-minute lecture, he said reputation alone is the difference between a successful business and a catastrophic failure. 

Matthews also said there’s a need for mentorship for young business professionals, as the presence and expertise of mentors often facilitates success.  

He wrapped up the talk by discussing the tremendous upheaval in world markets today and the opportunities that come with it. 

“The world of today simply did not exist 10 years ago, and with the revolutionary change in all sectors, there are infinite possibilities for those bold enough to seize them.”

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