'Useful point of connection'

Oct 13th, 2020

Susan White

'Useful point of connection'

The former head of the St. John’s International Airport Authority has taken up a new role at Memorial’s business faculty.

Keith Collins (B.Comm. (Hons.)’73) is the new executive-in-residence at the Faculty of Business Administration, a two-year role that will see him contribute to the professional development of both students and faculty members.

“We’re very pleased that Mr. Collins is joining us at the business faculty,” said Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean. “He brings a breadth of knowledge and experience that will be of enormous benefit to our students and offer them real-world industry perspective that will aid their studies. He also provides an important link between Memorial and the business community to help us stay connected with the current issues and challenges faced by many in the business world. We look forward to working with him closely.”

Benefitting the next generation

An executive-in-residence is an unpaid, professional association position that’s appointed on the basis of outstanding professional achievements and which renders a specific service to the university. At the business faculty, the role provides an opportunity to share industry knowledge and life experiences for the benefit of the next generation of business professionals.

“I’m very pleased to have been invited to take on the executive-in-residence role at the business faculty,” said Mr. Collins. “As a graduate of the faculty that gave me a strong business grounding more than 40 years ago, it’s meaningful for me to assume this position, and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Mr. Collins’ career in business spans four decades in three different industries: telecommunications, information technology (IT) and transportation. He spent 32 years with Bell Aliant (formerly NewTel) in a variety of management and finance roles before moving into the IT world, where he held positions such as president and chief executive officer (CEO) of Paragon Information Systems, regional vice-president of xwave Solutions Inc., and then president and CEO of xwave in Ireland.

From there, he spent the final 14 years of his career as president and CEO of the airport authority, where he facilitated the rapid growth of passenger traffic, led an expansion of the airport and airfield, developed a long-term strategic business plan and oversaw revenue growth and diversification through a strategic focus on non-traditional revenue sources.

Three-time top CEO

Before retiring in 2019, he was thrice named a top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada by Atlantic Business Magazine.

“Throughout my career, I saw a lot, experienced a lot and learned a lot, and I’m happy to be in a position to share those experiences and that learning with both students and faculty,” said Mr. Collins.

“I want to be a useful point of connection between the world of business academia and the business world that I operated in for four decades and that business students will enter upon graduation. If I can achieve that objective, I will feel that I was able to add some value.”

Industry insight

Mr. Collins joins Dave Lough as the faculty’s second industry representative. A professional associate at the faculty since 2017, Mr. Lough has been involved in research and community activities pertaining to leadership, economic development in Indigenous and rural communities, economic policy development and fostering the creative economy.

Mr. Lough is a former deputy minister of the then-named Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism and former director of the Torngasok Cultureal Centre for the Nunatsiavut Government.

Mr. Collins plans to host discussion sessions with students and participate in appropriate classes. He hopes to collaborate with researchers to write case studies and give input for curriculum improvements.

His new role began on Sept. 1.