Celebrating the Robert H. Lee Family.
February 26, 2015 marked the business family event of the season: the annual Family Legacy Series (FLS), proudly presented by UBC's Business Families Centre at the Sauder School of Business.
An iconic Vancouver business gala since 2001, FLS provides an extraordinary opportunity to gain insight into the inner workings of some of Canada’s most successful businesses and the families who founded them.
2015’s FLS celebrated the Robert (Bob) H. Lee Family. With over 600 people in attendance and generous corporate sponsorship, the sold-out event was the most successful FLS to date and will ensure the Business Families Centre’s continued development of leading business families educational programs, resources, and academic research.
Hard work. Integrity. Gratitude. Generosity. These were the common themes that emerged as Bob, Lily and their four children (Derek, Graham, Carol, and Leslie) took to the stage to share their personal stories and reflections on the family’s enduring success and happiness.
To provide a glimpse into the evening, below are a few quotes from the family, as well as the film on the Lee Family that was produced exclusively for the event.
On Bob’s secret to success:
Bob: “Build a good reputation… If you cross the line, then people know that you did that, and they are not going to recommend you. Always think of both sides… And be honest.”
Carol: “I think the real secret to him is the fact that pursuit of success was never the driving force for him…Success was never foremost in his mind, and I think that when he did get success, it was actually a very natural by-product of the kind of person he is. He’s a real inspiration, and I have a lot to learn from him.”
On getting involved in the family business:
Derek: “My dad taught us a lot of good values. But the most important thing… was the way he networked, the way he blended work with pleasure. It made it easy for us to make the decision to go into real estate… He’s always included us ever since we were 15 or 16 in the decisions of what they’re doing, showing us the real estate deals, getting us interested in it… He had a way of leading us in that direction, in a fun way, that we wanted to do it ourselves… We went in because he showed us the opportunities.”
On holding regular family meetings (over breakfast at the White Spot):
Bob: “I started that maybe 20 odd years ago. It got to a point where I think the children, they knew a little bit about business, and they had to know a little about life - the decisions I make. So if I come up with a proposal, I just want to present it to them and get their opinion… We talk about next acquisitions, cash flow, Lily’s birthday – which is very important – and any functions we want to go to.”
On what the children have learned from Bob and Lily:
Graham: “He always – like his Dad did – taught by example. From a very early age, we were exposed to a lot of people that were making a difference in Vancouver… Those experiences as a young kid made a big difference in my life.”
Leslie: “I think what Mom and Dad have taught me… is a zest for life… To always work hard and leave things better than you found them.”
On community involvement and philanthropy:
Bob: “If you’re part of the community, you want to improve it so that everybody is better off… If you don’t have the money, then contribute the time; that’s how I started when I didn’t have the money.”
On what Bob and Lily want for their grandchildren:
Lily: “I would hope they find what they like to do in their life and be passionate about it, just like Bob did, and to give back to the community.”
On what the children see for Bob and Lily in the future:
Carol: “Anybody that knows my father, they know he’ll never retire in the traditional sense. And I think [he’ll] always be involved in [his] many charities’ activities.”
Graham: “I think my Mom and Dad are on a mission, like their parents were, to make the world a better place for our families and the community. And I think you’re going to keep seeing that for the next 20 to 30 years from my Mom and Dad, and we’re all lucky for that.”