It’s just the latest in a series of honours and awards bestowed on the affable 36-year-old, who is Chairman of WIND Mobile as well as Chairman/CEO of Globalive.
“I travel a lot on business,” says Anthony, “especially as my main investor in WIND is based in Cairo. Just a couple of months ago, I went through the Zurich airport and thought how different it felt to be walking through there the first time, 16 years ago. This time I had three cell phones on the go and a laptop, but back then, I was walking through that airport alone and feeling scared about living away from home for the first time.”
Growing up in Welland, Ontario, Anthony and his friends loved skiing and in Grade 12, instead of going for a beach vacation, they saved up for a ski trip to Switzerland. His love of skiing and a desire to learn French was the motivation for persuading his parents to let him return to Switzerland to study at NJC for a year. “There was no internet back then but somehow I did the research and found out that it is easier to learn French in Neuchâtel than it is in Montreal or Paris, because the French is so pure,” he says, “and that persuaded my parents. My sister got the benefit too because my parents allowed her to go for one semester in my year, so we were there at the same time.”
“Mine was not the typical pension family,” Anthony recalls. “Claude and Katrine Lacaille owned a small bar/restaurant and lived in the flat above it. We became good friends right away, and I helped out with the business, met all their friends and was immersed in the French language from the first day. We were quite close and I went back to stay and visit with them twice after graduating from NJC.”
“NJC added a lot to my life,” he says. “It added a lot of personal confidence and independence. I played junior hockey and I was confident – but it was cocky, young-kid confident – not real, personal confidence. That’s what NJC gave me. I developed a sense of self, of independence. The administration at that time was great – they let us have fun but they also kept the reins reasonably in place.”
Despite his demanding career, Anthony still finds time to have fun. He has his pilot’s license and owns a Columbia 400, a low-winged four-seater. He also has a passion for professional theater and recently his London production of Tennessee William’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof earned a coveted Olivier Award as the West End’s outstanding revival, following a similar success on Broadway.
Anthony is also busy with philanthropy, primarily through the Shamba Foundation, of which he is both founder and chairman. Since 2007, Shamba has provided charitable groups with free venue space on the rooftop of Globalive’s headquarters in downtown Toronto. “Shamba is a charity for charities,” explains Anthony. “It is so difficult for small charities to be organized. We donate our staff, the food and refreshments, so when they have a fundraising event here, there are no overheads. All the charities have to do is sell the tickets and 100% of the proceeds come back to them.”
Anthony is a founding contributor to Galleria Italia, a Frank Gehry designed atrium at the heart of a newly renovated Art Gallery of Ontario. In recognition of his support of the AGO project, Anthony was given the designation of Commendatore in the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the Italian government in 2008.
The Next 36, a new initiative designed to find Canada’s next generation of entrepreneurial leaders, is another passion for Anthony Lacavera. “I got involved early on in this project, to provide the software support, to be the back office to help get these kids’ businesses off the ground. It’s very exciting to be part of the team giving them the mentorship I did not have when I was starting out…”
Lack of a mentor did not stand in his way, as Anthony has started a new business every year for the last 15 years. Start-ups are a tough business and doing this continuously must feel like climbing a mountain, year after year. “I don’t feel like I am climbing a mountain,” he says with a smile. “Coasting along would feel like climbing a mountain to me! Some people say I am not balanced in my approach to life, but I feel I am. There are hours at a time when I am flying the plane, for example, and everything is off. You are thinking about one thing – no phones, no blackberry, no laptop – no distractions – just concentrating on one thing – flying – that is two hours of real downtime. Gym for an hour everyday – that is all I think about – work is not in my mind. I have got myself disciplined in that I don’t let those activities spill into each other so that I get stressed and feel rushed all the time. I insist on going to the gym no matter how busy I am. I insist on going skiing even when I don’t have time for it. I insist on making time for friends and family – always.”
With so much already accomplished, Anthony Lacavera has even more ambitious plans in the works for 2011 and beyond. NJC is proud to include him amongst our distinguished alumni.