IN THE EDITORS' CONFIDENCE

How our biggest brass got that way

February 14 1959
IN THE EDITORS' CONFIDENCE

How our biggest brass got that way

February 14 1959

How our biggest brass got that way

IN THE EDITORS' CONFIDENCE

On page 16 assistant editor Peter C. Newman presents, and interprets, the advice of some of Canada’s most prominent business executives on How to Get Your Boss's Job. He interviewed twenty of them all told in offices that ranged from untidy attics to layouts that seemed to have been moved entire from the set of a Hollywood movie about big business. He found them all quite willing to give away their secrets, without so much as a glance at the Hanking doors of their vice-presidents’ suites.

The advice they gave was sound, some of it startling. We found ourselves wondering if these big bosses had practiced during their rise what they now preach from the summit. Here’s how the five gentlemen at the right— they all make over $50,000 a year; together they help direct fifty-three Canadian corporations—made the grade:

VERNON JOHNSON came from the U. S. as a semi-professional pitcher in 1920, to strengthen a Grand'Mère, Que., paper-company baseball team. He first came to the notice of company officials by hitting the home run which defeated the league-winning team from Three Rivers, managed by a young lawyer named Maurice Duplessis. Johnson joined Canadian International Paper and in twenty-four years became its president.

HERBERT LANK turned down an offer to play his sax on a U. S. vaudeville circuit, instead walked into the Du Pont office at Wilmington. Del., and got a job as an order clerk. Thirty years later, after working in South America and France, he was named the Canadian head of Du Pont. He has given up the sax, but still plays piano and organ.

GEOFFREY NOTMAN played football (McGill, 1919), hockey and water polo, hurled the discus and put the shot. His athletics brought him to the attention of Dominion Engineering Works executives in Montreal where he rose from junior engineer to vice-president in twenty-eight years. He switched to Canadair Limited, the aircraft-manufacturing firm he now heads, in 1950.

JAMES MUIR, the Royal Bank president, came from Scotland in 1912 and started as a clerk in the Moose Jaw branch with $2 in his pocket, spent his first night sharing a rooming-house bed with a fellow bank clerk. Although he’s opposed to men taking work home, he can't bear to be away from his own desk and prefers “forty-eight-hour breaks’’ to vacations.

HAROLD REA started in business turning socks inside out (at 114c per dozen pair) in the dyeing room of a textile plant at his native Kincardine, Ont. He switched to accounting, joined Canadian Oil Companies as an internal auditor and in 1949 became president, doubling sales since.

“I was embarrassed only once during my interviews,” Newman reports. “When I asked Vernon Johnson what he thought the successful executive should wear, he said: Well, I

would certainly not promote anybody who comes to work in a sports coat.’ That was the day I was wearing my favorite tweed jacket.”