Celebrating Randy Pilon
When alumnus Randy Pilon (Business '82) made a historic gift of $2.5 million to Sheridan in 2014, he hoped to inspire students – especially those who followed in his footsteps in the School of Business - to pursue their dreams. He wanted to show them that while successes often receive plenty of fanfare, it’s hard work and dedication that truly deserve to be commended, and students shouldn’t be afraid of embracing that as they realize their dreams.
Now, as he celebrates the completion of that gift – the largest personal donation to Sheridan in the college’s history - a full five years ahead of schedule, Pilon is once again reflecting on what it takes to make dreams a reality: an idea, a plan, and the tenacity to see through the challenges. Pilon left a successful career at Bausch & Lomb, where he became the company’s youngest Vice President, so he could pursue his own dreams of building a business. He founded Virox Technologies in 1998, when he had the chance to invest in a technology to create an infection control product that would disinfect more effectively and be safer for the environment. Pilon is now the CEO at Virox, and the company’s disinfectants are critical to help businesses, industry and health-care facilities operate safely during the global coronavirus pandemic.
When he made the gift in 2014, Pilon said he wanted to show students that anything was possible. “There are many entrepreneurs who were born on third base and think they hit a triple,” he said at the time. “I started from scratch and worked really hard. I hope my story will serve as an inspiration to future generations of Sheridan students.”
There’s no greater reminder of the unlimited possibilities for students than studying in the Pilon School of Business, named in honour of Pilon’s gift, which helped expand the Hazel McCallion Campus (HMC) in Mississauga. Today, thanks to Pilon’s foresight and steadfast belief in the power of education, HMC has now grown into a thriving hub that has allowed Sheridan to enhance educational opportunities in Peel Region, and opened doors for students to realize their full potential.
“Randy’s generosity has ensured that future generations will benefit from the same access to education that was foundational to his success,” says Dr. Janet Morrison, Sheridan’s President and Vice Chancellor. “His vision to invest in education has positioned Sheridan to support our communities and cultivate the workforce of tomorrow; his leadership will ensure every learner we serve is positioned to thrive.”
Students in the Pilon School of Business bring Pilon’s vision for his investment to life. Parmin Dhoot, for instance, was searching for the right academic fit when he enrolled in the Pilon School of Business (PSB). Fast-forward to today, and Dhoot not only holds a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) specializing in supply chain; he was accepted into the University of Calgary’s Master of Education, allowing him to realize his passion for education – a love that was born after taking advantage of opportunities including peer mentoring, sitting on student councils, and exploring leadership research.
Other students use the skills they learned at Sheridan to create their own businesses. Kate Palermo (Advertising and Marketing Communications ’15) started the Dance District studio because she wanted to turn her love of dance into a career. To do that, she relied heavily on her business knowledge she gained at Sheridan.
“I fell in love with Sheridan’s advertising program. I had a creative outlet and was able to collaborate with other artists, but I pushed myself with the business and marketing aspects of the program,” she said in a profile in Ovation, Sheridan’s alumni magazine.
Of course, there has no been no greater testament to pursuing goals in the face of challenges than the shift to virtual learning. Business students have found new ways to connect and study; some have even pursued opportunities they hadn’t considered before. Those who took part in the summer Virtual Internship Program, for instance, worked with peers from different faculties to explore solutions to unique problems – like how to provide higher education in innovative ways, or how to increase participation in the arts for older adults – gaining valuable work experience along the way. Pilon has long be a supporter of Sheridan grads, knowing that a Sheridan credential will bring value to his own team at Virox.
“I’m proud to see how students have continued their studies, even during this difficult time,” Pilon says. “The past year has shown me how important education is going to be as we recover from the pandemic, and I know Sheridan’s students and graduates will continue to find ways to help our businesses and our communities succeed.”