Grenada-born technology developer Nicholas Braithwaite who earned a degree in chemistry from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario in 1982, returned to the university last week to receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.
And for the graduating students of the De Groote School of Business, Braithwaite, he had a message.
” The world awaits you but it is not your degree that the world is awaiting.”
Braithwaite who co-founded nCHIP and developed devices such as cell phones and digital cameras, urged graduates to define their success ” not based on money or fame or fortune but based on the impact that you can have on the lives of others .”
“What the world needs is your intellect, your passion, your energy and your desire and ability to make a difference.”
Noting that the world is filled with challenges, he told them that it “needs you to take on and solve these challenges that include such things as global warming gender imbalance sexual harassment and abuse, human trafficking, increasingly open racial and ethnic intolerance, insensitive political leaders corruption poverty, food and water security issues the increasing gap between the rich and the poor the digital divide.”
” Please do not subscribe to the thesis that the most important requirement for solving problems that exist in our planet today is financial capital ,” said Braithwaite, co-founder of Riverwood Capital in Menlo Park, California, a private equity firm that invests in high growth technology.
He noted that although financial capital is necessary, “the ability to make a difference is not a function of how much money one has.
” It is more a function of how much one cares.”
” As a venture capital investor, I can say with confidence that money usually follows ideas not the other way around .”
“In fact, my own experience has taught me that in business as well as in life. the application of the right intellectual capital can often amplify the value of limited financial resources,” Braithwaite said.
The PETNA Foundation, started by himself and his wife, has been providing “financial resources and intellectual capital to projects focussed on youth, education and community development” in developing countries.
In a telephone interview after receiving his honorary doctorate, Braithwaite noted the importance of university education with respect to sustainable growth .
“You cannot drive new job creations which is what you need for economic growth unless you improve your productivity and the best way to improve productivity in my opinion is to improve the output of your tertiary institutions ,” he told the Caribbean Camera.