FACILITYCalgary publisher Mark Kolke, in conversation with Bob Hamilton
July 2, 2013
How do you tell one man of steel from another? Bob doesn’t wear a cape. You might imagine a jock turned investment banker, glad-hander, important guy – would have more swagger, be ego-driven and doing lots of charity work because networking and community connections would be good for business. In Calgary those are truths, but they don’t equal Bob Hamilton.
I’ve known Bob Hamilton – as you know someone in passing, from nodding as we pass on the +15, hi/hello at the gym or waving in traffic when negotiating a turn should be the priority. We have mutual acquaintances. We’ve swapped early morning emails about my columns – and he’s pushed back when I’ve made contrarian statements about the economy in FACILITYCalgary. We lunched recently – and I learned about the ‘other side’ of Bob, the ‘how he keeps going’ side.
Finding him on line isn’t easy – and when you ask, he hands out his wife’s card with a link to her website Missing Tim, where she’s turned a tragedy into her life’s work. Bob and Julie have both plunged into a lot of charity work that has stemmed from their daughter’s cancer survival and loss of their son in a senseless accident. I didn’t set out to make Bob cry but he welled up often talking about some of the most moving work he’s done – dealing with other parents who’ve lost a child, about fantastic doctors treating kids cancer and also ones helping grief stricken parents – but mostly he praises the strong support of friends like Beddis, Casey, McKenzie and his list goes on . . .
As VP Business Development, Private Banking and Wealth Management at RBC, he has the right and reputation to plenty of swagger – but he doesn’t. Not to say he’s shy, but he’s more humble than you might expect given his history and background – but he’s had some humbling events in his life that would slay most of us.
Born in Welland, Ontario – above the escarpment, not far from steel mills of Hamilton where his dad parlayed a start in the family steel business, to a career that took the family around steel markets of Canada and U.S. – Bob went into the money business when his days in college and pro-football were done. Football – Wilfred Laurier, Toronto Argonauts, Hamilton Tiger Cats and memories of losing to Calgary in a Grey Cup final have left Bob, a former tight-end, a rarity – a former ball player who can still walk!
His business degree education together with early-on jobs as a money-market bond trader for financial institutions build an impressive resume of its own, but his community involvement in Calgary where he has been since 1985 is where he has shone brightest, though he hesitates, and reminds me how important Julie’s work is.
The path that led him to the Royal Bank segment (18 years now) involved mergers and acquisitions of financial institutions where he worked which brought him further up several ladders prior to Royal Bank’s acquisition of Royal Trust. His business management skills earned him greater responsibilities – but when we talked about what got him through it all, what got him to where he is today, the words family, friends, community and football kept coming up as driving forces that built the man as much as the career.
I asked Bob how he sees banking business and corporate finance over the next 90 days?
. . . frightened about debt in the U.S., the state of manufacturing in Ontario - optimistic about Calgary, we are very resilient but we don’t do a good enough job of telling our story
. . . and over the next 5 years?
Huge growth in Calgary, shortage of land. Turmoil continuing in Europe is a huge concern, the troubled state of manufacturing in Ontario
I asked him what qualities distinguish his preferred suppliers.
. . . can they relate to me? Have they done their homework? How they conduct themselves, consistency. Can I trust the person? Do I like them?
I asked him why his clients hire his firm instead of his competitors.
. . . people don’t hire me – they hire my team. The people, professionalism, quality of service delivery – are we delivering what we promised?
What defines life-work balance for you?
. . . fishing, skiing, hiking, golf, friends – walking, I never sit still . . . the trip I took to base camp on Everest – a trip Tim had wanted to take
What do you lose sleep over, what do you worry about?
. . . my daughter’s health, my grand-children, my wife. Common sense in education – we have a talented melting pot but without taking some risks, putting a new action plan in place and following through we are going to fail to keep up. There isn’t enough giving back in our community – we need more.
Who or what influenced you most – that has made a difference in your life?
… my father (he was an orphan at 15 – he was driven, demanding, nothing was ever good enough … I hated it), my mother (grounded us, athlete), Mel Hawrkrigg, Hart McDougall – the life lessons we learn from football
What are you reading?
… Tom Clancy novels, autobiographies – Steve Jobs, Norman Schwarzkopf’s Stormin’ Normin, The Shack
. . . an ’86 Benz 460SL, ’92 Benz 500SL, 2000 Benz 4303 and Julie drives a Ford Expedition
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