Royal Roads University chancellor has long history with the school

Victoria business leader Wayne Strandlund likes to say he was introduced to Royal Roads almost from his first day in Victoria at the age of 15.

The oldest of eight, Strandlund’s entire family had moved from the hamlet of St. Hubert Mission in southern Saskatchewan in 1962. One of the first things Strandlund did was visit two pals, officer cadets at what was then Royal Roads Military College.

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“It was like Butchart Gardens,” says Strandlund, now 66. “And there was this full sea view, sitting on the steps, looking at the Olympic Mountains. How good does it get?”

“I guess you could say Royal Roads has been in my system, in my blood for a very long time.”

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The founder, director and chief executive of Fisgard Capital Corp., a firm specializing in mortgage investment and borrowing, is the new chancellor of Royal Roads University. It’s an appointment that’s left him deeply humbled and honoured. He was originally appointed to the Royal Roads board of governors in 2011.

Strandlund is excited about his new position because chancellor at Royal Roads — unlike most other universities where it is a ceremonial position — is an activist position. The chancellor chairs the board of governors and takes part in program and course development as well as management of the facility.

“It is not a passive position,” says Strandlund. “The board of governors is very active. There is a lot of work that goes on and I enjoy it.”

His ability to step from work tasks into interest, observation and opportunity characterizes his life as it began back in a tiny French-Canadian community east of Regina.

His father had only a Grade 11 education. But it was enough to gain him the position of school teacher in the community, teaching in a one-room schoolhouse. During winter, his father would ski to work, hauling the young Strandlund behind on a toboggan to his first classes.

Strandlund and his family moved to Victoria in 1962 and he attended the University of Victoria, earning a bachelor of arts, majoring in creative writing and music. Before he graduated, he was married and had three kids.

His interest in music has never left. He has been a board member, including president, of the Victoria Conservatory of Music and member and director of the Victoria Symphony Society. To this day he listens to and studies music in his spare time with an analytic approach.

During university, it was the summer jobs and part-time work, in construction and real estate sales, where he quickly gained an education in development, home-building, investment and borrowing.

Only 23 and still a long-haired university student, he found someone willing to lend him money to build his first home. The lender was someone he happened to meet at a construction site who said he would like to invest in mortgages sought by people of good character.

Strandlund put his name forward and he and his young family got into their first home.

It was the beginning of his credo that lending and borrowing is a human interaction, where both parties become enriched in more than just money and property.

So at Fisgard, lending officers and investment officers work closely together. It’s an arrangement unlike some mortgage companies, where one side has no clue about the other.

Strandlund believes the crossover is important. As he describes business at Fisgard, he discusses the human parties involved in the transactions.

He recently dealt with a couple topping up tax-free-savings accounts for themselves and their two children. There is another story of a man realizing a dream to buy a boat by raising a second mortgage.

Strandlund insists the business is simple. People want to invest money and people want to borrow. His company functions by bringing those sides together.

He also does his best to encourage his company officers to seek further education, even paying their costs to Royal Roads University to take advanced business courses. The world is changing and opportunities exist everywhere for new business and new relationships.

Two of his senior vice-presidents at Fisgard received their master’s in business and administration from Royal Roads. His son, who works at Fisgard (Strandlund calls it a family business), will be attending in the future.

He encourages all his employees to seek degrees there, while working and raising their families. Strandlund says Fisgard is happy to pay and calls it money well spent.

When his appointment as chancellor is complete, he intends to enrol himself. “You are looking at somebody who will be close to 70 when he takes his MBA,” Strandlund says. “I am genuinely interested and I don’t ever intend to retire.”

rwatts@timescolonist.com

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