On the last page of every issue of Industry West, we find a Saskatchewan business person or leader to answer our version of the Proust Questionnaire. Marcel Proust made the questionnaire famous, believing that 35 specific questions could reveal a person’s true nature. We grabbed this idea—you’ve probably seen it in Vanity Fair—and made our own version. The first five questions are ours, and then we ask our subject to pick their favourite Proust questions to answer.
Say hello to Richard Missens, president and CEO at PFN Group of Companies.
1. Where are you from?
I am from the Pasqua Indian Reserve #79 in Saskatchewan.
2. Where did you attend school and what did you study?
I did a Bachelor of Business Administration at the University of Regina, completed my MBA at the University of Saskatchewan, and I am currently completing a PhD in Entrepreneurship.
3. What is your career history?
For the last 27 years, I have been a faculty member for the School of Business at the First Nations University of Canada.
4. What’s the best piece of business or career advice you have or have been given?
Do your homework. Good research and quality due diligence will go a long way to prudent decision making.
5. What’s your favourite thing about Saskatchewan?
From the boreal forest of the north to the grasslands of the south I really enjoy the pristine spaces Saskatchewan has to offer. My grandmother taught me an appreciation for the land. The beauty and the bounty. All you have to do is take time to stop and appreciate it.
6. What is your current state of mind?
My mind is focused on my Nation. I am now working in economic development—not to create wealth—but to create change and opportunity. Done right, economic development is transforming. Our Indigenous Nation, and its citizens can overcome past trauma, be a self-sustaining community, and be a contributor to the local, national and international economy.
7. When and where were you happiest?
I would have to say it was growing up on the Pasqua reserve. We didn’t have much by way of wealth or possessions—but we didn’t know we were poor. My mother and father worked tirelessly to keep the household functioning. My parents were strict but it was a happy time, and the only fear I had was not to get into trouble with my parents.
8. Which talent would you most like to have?
I did not learn my Saulteaux language. I joke with my children and say “if you could have a superpower, what would it be?” My answer is always the same: “for my superpower, I would be able to speak and understand every language is the world.”
9. What is your favourite occupation?
I really enjoyed my time teaching at the University. I always wanted to be a teacher. Funny story, I started out in a Bachelor of Education (elementary) program at the university. My first experience as a teacher in the classroom in my first semester was a disaster. My grade four students just stared at me and probably wondered “what the heck is he talking about.” I dropped out and left the program in my first semester. I fortuitously
returned to teaching, but as a professor teaching adults and not the elementary teacher I set out to be.
10.What is your greatest regret?
I didn’t begin university until I was 29. The training, the experiences, and networks are essential in building a professional career. University training is the foundation to your career. The true development of your skills and abilities comes from your experience. Your network of colleagues and mentors can assist and guide you in your development. I think it’s like a financial savings account. The sooner you start investing in yourself, the greater the compounded payout at the end.