Class of 1989
Albert Jean de Grandpré took a sleepy telephone company and built it into an aggressive empire that garners over a billion dollars a year in profits.
Jean’s first contact with Bell was in 1964. As a well known lawyer, now in private practice, he represented the company before the Canadian Transport Commission, then Bell’s regulator. In 1966 Executive Vice President, Robert Scrivener offered him a job in the legal department. Jean said he was interested, but only if he was guaranteed a shot at the “top job.” Scrivener agreed and at age 45, de Grandpré became Bell’s General Legal Counsel. The same year he was made a Vice President. Seven years later, he would hold the “top job.”
In 1977, Bell’s international consulting arm won a billion dollar contract to help build a telecommunication system in Saudi Arabia. Consumer groups in Canada argued that the profits should be used to hold down domestic phone rates. Bell counter argued, but the CRTC ruled against Bell. In response, de Grandpré reorganized the company, making the phone business and its associated operations subsidiaries of a newly formed holding company, Bell Canada Enterprises, knows as BCE. For Albert Jean de Grandpré, the formation of BCE represented the highlight of his career.
What frustrated him most was dithering. “If I have one quality,” he said, “it is decisiveness. The worst decision is the one that is never taken.”