Philippe Camus awarded Doctor of Laws, honoris causa

Businessman Philippe Camus was awarded the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, on Thursday, June 10, “in recognition of a distinguished career and leadership in European aerospace and strong promotion of transatlantic co-operation in defense.”

136th Convocation Speech, Philippe Camus, Carleton University, June 10, 2010

Mr. Chancellor
Madame President
Son Excellence Francois Delattre, Ambassadeur de France à Ottawa
Professor Rafik Goubran
Distinguished members of the faculty
and Carleton Graduands

I will speak in English. Before let me say a few words in French.

Chers amis francophones, vous pourrez constater que mon attachement à la langue française se manifeste par l’accent très français avec lequel je pratique la langue anglaise.

I am extremely proud and delighted that Carleton University invited me to accept this honor.

I will tell you why it is so important to me.

Among the values I cherish are tolerance, openness and respect of diversity.
In my life, I have always been curious about what or who is on the other side of the table. I strongly believe that discussing, exchanging and living together are a plus for everyone. Canada is a good example of diversity. Canada is a family and even if, as it happens in a family, brothers and sisters may argue from time to time, they live in the same home under the same roof. The family home of Canada is Ottawa and for me it is a strong symbol to be distinguished by Carleton University here in Ottawa.

The second reason why I am so pleased is because when I read the programs offered at Carleton University, they look familiar to me.
I was lucky enough in my life to be able to study Physics, Mathematics, Finance and Political Science. I can find that at Carleton University. I feel at home and especially because I know that Canada hosts major companies in Aerospace, an industry I especially know well.

The third reason why I am pleased is that Carleton University is a young University. Even very young, I must say. I was born in 1948 and Carleton in 1945. So, I can assure you, it is a young University. But more seriously, as a young one, Carleton has and will have all the necessary vitality and energy to cope with the 21st century.

Re-read or read if you have not already done so, the 2009 Strategic Plan of Carleton. You will feel this energy and this vitality. You will need it in the future.

What will the 21st Century be?

We had the 18th Century, “Siècle des Lumieres”, the 19th Century, “Siècle de la revolution industrielle” and the 20th Century, which does not have a generally accepted name yet but I would call it “Siècle des Ideologies”. The beginning of this Century is terrible and challenging but you, Carleton graduates and Alumni, are the ones who will build a better world.

I am convinced that we are on the forefront of major transformations in many fields of human activity. Let us take two priorities of the Carleton Strategic Plan, the two that I know best.

New Digital Media is one of those. As Chairman of the Board of Alcatel-Lucent and Managing Partner of Lagardere, a global media company, I am in the core of the New Digital Media revolution. Information Technology is transforming our space and it is just beginning. As part of Alcatel-Lucent, we own Bell Labs, the famous one. In my office in Murray Hill, New Jersey, there is a display of what has been invented there since Alexander Graham Bell. Last year, we had the honor to celebrate two of our researchers who won the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics. By the way, one of them is a Canadian Citizen born in Amherst, Nova Scotia.

It is always a great pleasure and very exciting for me to spend some time with the Bell Labs research team discussing what is next. I can tell you that we have in our labs a lot to come which will revolutionize Telecommunications Technology. For example, we are close to building what we call the next generation of transistor which will rely on Quantum mechanics and, we are not the only ones in the world to work on that topic. So, quantum computing will exist and it will dramatically change the overall space of Information Technology. Some other teams are already working on transmission of information at a speed faster than light (to be discussed!)). I could review many other areas where science and technology will shape our world. It is true for Aerospace and Energy. We can consider new ways of propulsion which would be much more efficient and environmentally friendly. Technology will help us to design safer, better, greener aircrafts. Space will support our efforts to manage the natural resources we have on earth.
From a more global point of view, I believe that we are a few years away from achieving tremendous breakthroughs in Physics. I foresee the same kind of transformation than the one which happened at the beginning of the 20th century.

Innovation is not limited to Science and Technology. The media business is changing very fast as well. There is a revolution going on there. Digital Information allows new forms of distribution, new types of content and new services. Many business models have to be revisited. Many jobs will be different in the future. In the 21st century, being a journalist, a publisher, editor, writer and even a singer or movie star (yes, think Avatar, now they are blue…) will be completely different than what these jobs are today.

But, that’s not all that is going on. Let me tell you a short story.
One month ago, I had a discussion with the Minister of Communications and Information Technology of a very large Middle-Eastern Region Country. The discussion was about mobile phone usage. The Minister was troubled by the usage of mobile phones by kids, including and firstly in his own family I must say. For him, there is a large part, almost all, of the young population of his country who live in a fully different world than the rest of the country, with a different culture. He is troubled and anxious because he has no idea what the long term consequences are of this fact. Here we reach the other priority of the Carleton 2009 Strategic Plan which is “Global Identities and Globalization.”

Globalization is everywhere in business space. It is a very well known fact and I will not elaborate too much about it except to tell you that globalization is not fueled by greedy multinational conglomerates. No, globalization comes from the will of 6 billion individuals who want to be like the other 1 billion. Why do they want to be like us? Because the technology has allowed them to be directly connected to networks which provide images, data, and services – the same ones we use in our day to day life – and their reaction is just “why not for me?” How can I get that?” Globalization in culture and way of life is on the way. This evolution is irreversible and powerful. Now we face three challenges: How globalization can be sustainable? How do we preserve some form of identity and diversity? How do we manage the stability of our common world? The answers to these three questions will shape the 21st Century. You will have to answer them.

I am confident and optimistic about our future in the 21st Century. I believe that Science and Technology will help us build a better global world provided that we are able to foster diversity and global identities (with an s) and monitor our future in a more ethical manner. I am convinced that Carleton University will contribute decisively to our common success.

I cannot thank you enough for the honor you bestowed upon me today.

I wish you the best for the 21st Century.

Thank you.

Watch the 136th Convocation Speech, Philippe Camus, Carleton University, on YouTube

Last modified on 14/01/2011

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