Prof. Elliot Lifson appointed to Order of Canada

Published: 27 November 2020

The Desautels Faculty of Management congratulates Elliot Lifson, C.M., Professor of Practice in the Strategy and Organization area, on his appointment to the prestigious Order of Canada for his extraordinary contributions to the Canadian apparel industry and service to the greater community. Prof. Lifson, who joined the Desautels Faculty in 2005, serves as the Vice-Chairman of Vêtements Peerless Clothing Inc. and President of the Canadian Apparel Federation. The new appointments were announced by Her Excellency the Right Honourable Julie Payette, Governor General of Canada.

“It was definitely a surprise,” says Prof. Lifson after receiving the call about the appointment. “Since the announcement, I have received so many kind messages from colleagues and former students.” The Faculty has witnessed Prof. Lifson’s impact firsthand in the 15 years since he joined as an adjunct professor. “Outside of Elliot’s work in the business community, I can’t begin to describe the impact he has made on our MBA student body as a mentor, teacher and counsellor,” says Interim Dean Morty Yalovsky.

Prof. Lifson has taught classes in the area of Strategy and Organization at the Faculty since 2005. Described by his students as humble, engaging, and passionate, he received the teaching award for graduate programs at Desautels in 2019. The flood of emails that Prof. Lifson has received from former students since the announcement of his appointment to the Order of Canada testifies to the impact he has made in the lives of students over the past 15 years. “This is such a well-deserved honour,” wrote one former student. “I’m so lucky to have met you at the beginning of my career. I learned so much from you.” Another former student writes, “You are one of the kindest people at McGill and have certainly done enough for Canada to deserve this honour.”

When describing his teaching philosophy, Prof. Lifson references a well-known book by business professor Adam Grant called Give and Take, which reflects on the willingness of individuals to give back in relation to how much they receive. “My philosophy is that you give and you don’t expect anything in return,” reflects Prof. Lifson. “You give students access to your network or give someone who’s struggling a little extra help after class. You allow students to call you long after they have graduated. If I can share knowledge, if I can open up their eyes, if I can provide some benefit in their career, that’s my reward.”

Outside of the classroom, Prof. Lifson serves on the Desautels International Advisory Board and the Bensadoun School of Management Advisory Board. He brings to the table more than 45 years of expertise in the Canadian retail and apparel industry, during which he played a key role in advocating for industry interests in NAFTA and more recent trade negotiations. “My greatest satisfaction is making sure that our industry is protected in today’s challenging environment,” he shares. Prof. Lifson has also left a legacy of inclusiveness as he creates space for smaller companies to participate alongside industry giants. “My message has always been this: ‘Seul on va plus vite, ensemble on va plus loin’— ‘Alone, I go faster; together, we go further.’”

At a formal ceremony planned for next summer, Governor General Payette will present a medal to commemorate the appointment of Prof. Lifson as a Member of the Order of Canada. In the meantime, Prof. Lifson shows no signs of slowing down. “Retiring is not in my vocabulary,” he says. “My work keeps me going. You have to get up in the morning and love what you do, and I certainly love what I do.”

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