2016 Distinguished Alumnus
How do you build a $6.5 billion enterprise? Incrementally, says Lorenzo Donadeo, co-founder, former CEO and chairman, Vermilion Energy Inc.
"When we founded Vermilion Energy in 1994, we literally started at zero with a plan to take the company to $2 per share and then sell it."
That's not what happened. Today, Vermilion hovers at about $72 per share, produces 65,000 barrels of oil each day, is listed on the TSE and NYSE, and has operations in North America, Europe and Australia.
"When we reached our original $2 per share goal, we realized our model was pretty unique," says Donadeo. "We had found a niche and we knew that we could continue to add value and grow the company."
Sharing in that success goes beyond the company itself, adds Donadeo. "From a business perspective, we always felt we needed to give back and invest in the communities where we work and live — to find causes where we could make a difference in people's lives. In my personal life, I feel much the same way. The fact that you're able to do well is a result of your education and the support you've been given from the community at large. To me, that means you have a responsibility to give back to the people who got you there."
Lorenzo Donadeo (WET '77), Co-founder, Chair and former President and CEO of Vermilion Energy Inc.; Casadona Group Founder and Director
"I was the president and CEO of Vermilion Energy, but have since transferred over to chair of the board. We have Casadona Group, which is a family office investment company that invests in commercial real estate and bond and equity funds. It's been going for about five years now and I have been fairly involved in that. Two of my sons are here as well. It's different than what I used to do, but sometimes a change is as good as a rest, as they say.
It took us a long time to get to this point from when I first founded Vermilion. I have been fortunate to generate this level of wealth. It's now about setting up the governance and systems to preserve it and pass it through the generations. It's not just about the money, it's also the emotional and social aspects. It's important that the investment principles are mentored and taught to the kids so they can pass it to future generations. It's about the value system, wealth creation and the responsibility to give back to the community.
Now that there's more time, we have been doing some trips overseas and down to Palm Springs and Hawaii. We're also building a new lake house. It's nice working here at Casadona as it gives me a chance to mentor my boys. I am taking more of a background role and providing support. It's working out great."