Brendan Paddick

Brendan Paddick
Brendan Paddick

B. Comm. (Co-op) (1986), MBA (1994)
CEO, Columbus International Inc.

From a small town in Newfoundland to a top businessman in the Caribbean, business graduate Brendan Paddick has become a leader in the telecommunications industry.

“I started my career in the telecommunications industry as a door-to-door cable TV salesman for N1 Cable TV,” Mr. Paddick says. “For the next year or so I literally knocked on every door in over 150 rural communities across the province. Although I may not have realized it at the time, I was really gaining an in-depth, first-hand knowledge and understanding of the consumer psyche and behavior, lessons that would later shape my career.”

Originally from Grand Falls-Windsor, Mr. Paddick is the founder and chief executive officer of Columbus International Inc. Based in Barbados, Columbus provides digital cable television, broadband Internet and telephony services in Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Curacao under the brand name FLOW. Through its subsidiary, Columbus Networks, the company provides telecom services, corporate data solutions, cloud-based services and data centre hosting throughout 42 countries in the greater Caribbean, South and Central American region. Columbus provides service to a client base of over 600,000 customers and employs more than 2,600 people.

Prior to founding Columbus in 2005, Mr. Paddick was the president and CEO of both Persona Communications and Cable Bahamas Limited.

However, his career as a successful entrepreneur began humbly.

“I started off selling worms to a local sporting goods store in Grand Falls. Before you know it, I had regular fishing customers coming to my house. I would collect coffee grounds from local restaurants to keep my soil nourished and my worms healthy. After all, it’s not easy to differentiate and command a premium for a worm!”

Mr. Paddick graduated from Memorial University with a bachelor of commerce in 1986 and a master of business administration in 1994. He then went on to complete the advanced management program (AMP) at Harvard University in Boston, MA in 2000.

Coming from a small town in a small province can have both its advantages and disadvantages, but Mr. Paddick says his time at Memorial helped prepare him for success.

“People often underestimate you when they hear you’re from Newfoundland and Labrador or that you graduated from Memorial University. Apart from obviously being wrong, it actually puts them at a big disadvantage. I have a personal motto: ‘You can never guarantee that you will be the smartest person in the room, but there is no excuse for not being the most prepared.’”

He lauds in particular the MBA program, which focuses on experiential learning.

“Taking my MBA at Memorial was very different from my undergraduate bachelor of commerce degree. For example, if you took an article from a newspaper or a business journal into an undergrad class, many of your classmates might have cynically thought you were simply trying to earn the favour of your professor. However, in a MBA class the professor might completely scrap his or her planned lecture and run with the topic as it was relevant and in real time. Similarly your classmates would jump on board and add to the debate or conversation.”

Mr. Paddick has accumulated many awards during his career, including being named one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 and Ernst & Young’s Atlantic Canadian Business-to-Business Entrepreneur of the Year in 2011.

He has also had a long relationship with Memorial filled with many highlights. He was named the Faculty of Business Administration’s Alumni of the Year in 2002 and was recently recognized as Memorial’s 2013 Alumnus of the Year.

“When you pack up everything and move away from your family, your friends, your city, your province and even your country, you can’t help but wonder if you will lose touch; if you will you lose relevance. Being named Memorial's Alumnus of the Year confirmed to me, and my family, that this need not be the case. I believe this award will forever serve as my family's anchor to Newfoundland and Labrador.”

In his spare time, Mr. Paddick loves to salmon fish and has spent almost every summer for the past decade on a river in Labrador. He is also a huge hockey fan and has found himself at some memorable games such as the finals of the Canada Cup, World Cup and Vancouver Olympics. He plans to attend as many hockey games as he can at the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia this winter.

Hannah Rivkin