Denis Desautels: Sober Second Thoughts from a Corporate Veteran


"I wish it never happened.”

For the past 90 minutes, Denis Desautels (BCom'64) has been reflecting amicably over lunch on a career that included a decade-long stint as Auditor-General of Canada and another decade as chairman of Laurentian Bank of Canada.

... “His only fault, which we tease him about, is that he doesn’t know how to say ‘No,’” says Sheila Fraser (BCom'72), his successor as auditor-general and former colleague at Ernst & Young.

... Mr. Desautels hails from St-Bruno, east of Montreal. The fifth of seven children, he worked summers at the Mount Bruno Country Club, caddying for top Montreal executives. After growing up a unilingual francophone, his mother decided Mr. Desautels should attend high school in English in Montreal, an adjustment that took him two months to overcome. He became interested in accounting and studied commerce at McGill University, where he met his future wife. Upon graduating in 1964, he joined audit and accounting firm Clarkson Gordon, later part of Ernst & Young. His career path “unfolded quite well for me, quite fast,” he says and he was made partner at 29.

Read full article: The Globe and Mail, July 19, 2013