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Alumni News


June 22, 2012

Top Tips from Leading Alumni

Two outstanding business alumni shared their lessons for success with grads and faculty at the Hazel McCallion Campus on June 7.

Randy Pilon, President and CEO of Virox Technologies, and Ian Oliver, President of Metroland Media Group recounted the highs and the lows of their respective careers at the networking event which also featured a tour of Sheridan’s newest campus.

Although they come from different industries, the two Sheridan Business Hall of Famers agreed on the need for today’s business grads to remain adaptable and open-minded.

Speaking as part of a panel discussion, Ian said that his company remains successful in an industry under pressure to maintain its relevancy by relying on its strengths, “We provide local coverage that is not available anywhere else.” Metroland publishes more than 110 weekly community newspapers in Ontario, as well as three daily newspapers.

“There is still a role for traditional media,” added Ian, a 1983 Advertising grad. “People still read community newspapers. The local store can put a full page ad in the Mississauga News tomorrow, and the next day there will be customers lining up outside that store.”

On the digital side, Metroland’s numerous online businesses have become a thriving division of the company, including the popular WagJag, and Explained Ian, “We have learned to make money differently by going where the opportunities are.”

Randy certainly followed opportunity when it cropped up. The 1982 Business grad left a high level executive position to start Virox Technologies in 1999, seeing a growing need for disinfectant and hygiene products. Virox now markets its patented disinfectant through several leading global partners such as Bayer, STERIS Corp and Diversey.

Not that it was all smooth sailing, said Randy. "There were some sleepless nights, as I wondered how I was going to pay the bills in those early stages.” But, as he outlined in one of his six lessons for success, “Ninety-five percent of life is how you react to what happens. Life doesn’t always go well when you run your own company,” so it’s crucial to keep a level head and focus on a sound business plan, explained Randy.


  1. Don’t put your credential before your drive and desire to work.
  2. Remember the 95% rule. Most of life is how you react to what happens.
  3. Have a solid strategic plan. Prepare for worst-case scenarios.
  4. Be brutally honest with yourself and correct the things you do wrong.
  5. Focus on going from good to great. Eighty percent of companies are niche-based. Find yours.
  6. Stop and evaluate. Go back to your plan for guidance if you get off the rails.

  1. Encourage and support talent.
  2. Get help - lots of it. Good ideas come from all over the organization.
  3. Support the corporate culture.
  4. Think long-term but act with urgency. Plans are great but you need to get things done.
  5. Take responsibility for problems. Don’t cling to ideas.
  6. Narrow your focus but broaden your appeal.
  7. Think externally and ask the customer.
  8. Invest in training and development.
  9. Be the constructive one, not the critic.
  10. Take your business seriously but not yourself.


From left, Sheridan’s Faculty of Business Dean, William Holmes; President of Metroland, Ian Oliver; President and CEO of Virox Technologies, Randy Pilon; Sheridan President and CEO, Jeff Zabudsky.