The son of a fireman, Mr. Waugh worked his way through university in Alberta’s oil industry, graduating from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) degree in 1970. At the age of 20, he began his banking career working as a Bank of Nova Scotia teller at the Windsor Park branch in Winnipeg. Over the next 43 years, his talents and tenacity saw him ascend to the apex of the banking world, moving from Scotiabank’s treasury, corporate international and retail banking areas, to eventually serving as Scotiabank’s President and CEO from 2003 until his recent retirement.
Under his watch, Scotiabank experienced a period of unprecedented growth – a period when the bank’s profits tripled. Mr. Waugh also oversaw Scotiabank’s international operations with a steady hand during the most severe global financial crisis since the Great Depression.
These accomplishments represent a fitting career arc for a man who received the International Award from the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans in 2011.
Despite international acclaim, Mr. Waugh remains true to his prairie roots and proud of where he came from. In a profile published in Canadian Business Magazine, reporter Jason Kirby wrote that Winnipeg is never far from Mr. Waugh’s thoughts.
“If the so-called Winnipeg mafia—those power brokers who hail from the keystone province—ever handed out loyalty cards, Rick Waugh would warrant super-elite status. His stories almost always circle back to the prairie city. He’s a diehard Bombers fan. When the Jets returned home in 2011, he was there for the opening game. An aerial painting of Winnipeg fills an entire wall in his living room.”
Throughout his life, Mr. Waugh has managed to balance a busy professional life with a truly philanthropic spirit. In recognition of his contributions, Mr. Waugh was appointed an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2012 and in 2008 he received the Award of Merit from B’Nai Brith Canada for his great success as a leader in the corporate and humanitarian realms – an honour made all the more meaningful when it was presented to him in Winnipeg.
For his work to promote Canadian business interests internationally, Mr. Waugh received the Corporate Social Responsibility Award from the Foreign Policy Association in New York, and had the Order of Merit conferred upon him by the president of the Dominican Republic for distinguished service to that country. In 2007 he received the Merit of Honor, Council of the Americas, for his distinguished contribution to the Americas.
Mr. Waugh actively contributes to his community as a dedicated philanthropist. He has worked extensively with the MS Society, and is a board member for their Scientific Research Foundation. In 2006, he was campaign chair for the United Way of Greater Toronto’s 50th anniversary. He is a director of St. Michael’s Foundation and was co-chair of the hospital’s campaign to build the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute.
A tireless advocate for the importance of education, Mr. Waugh and his family have endowed scholarships at the University of Manitoba for the children of Scotiabank employees living and working outside of Canada. In keeping with his commitment to education, Mr. Waugh also serves on the advisory councils for the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University and the Schulich School of Business at York University.
Mr. Waugh, along with his wife Lynne and their three sons, has also generously contributed to the construction of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg.
As Winnipeg philanthropist and community builder Gail Asper stated,“Rick Waugh is one of Canada’s most visionary leaders with a sharp mind and a huge heart. He and Lynne and their family truly understand the importance of investing in a better future and of igniting the energy and the transformative power of young people. They lead by example.”
Mr. Waugh’s leadership has helped guide the banking sector, both in Canada and internationally, to greater prosperity, stability and security. His boundless generosity and passionate involvement continue to positively impact communities around the globe. The University of Manitoba is proud to honour him here today with a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa.