Otago Business School graduate Sir Eion Edgar is a man who’s made a big difference in New Zealand, both as a visionary business man and as a philanthropist in sport, education, youth, arts, sports and health. And those contributions are still on-going.
Eion Edgar graduated Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Otago in 1967 and completed his accounting professional qualifications the following year. He’s had a long involvement with the university since, including as Chancellor (1999-2003), and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws for outstanding service.
He recalls university as being a fantastic experience. “I would go as far as to say it made me.”
Giving back, particularly to the university that gave him so much, is therefore very important to a man who says life has been very good for his family.
He is keen to counsel young graduates not to lose sight of the university once they’ve left.
“I’ve had the pleasure of 23 years of service on the University Council and continue to be involved in fundraising. While not everyone is lucky enough to have that privilege, there are many ways you can acknowledge and contribute to the place that gave you your meal ticket – even from overseas.”
He also advises graduates to find a job they enjoy – “you’re in it for a long time, so you’ve got to have fun doing it”.
And he urges them to stay in touch with friends and colleagues from university years, as those contacts are rewarding and often prove useful throughout your career.
Eion is a mainstay of the Forsyth Barr Group Ltd, a Dunedin-headquartered national firm of sharebrokers and investment bankers. He joined the company in 1972, has extensive experience in advising on equities, fixed interest and corporate matters, and has overseen the firm's expansion nationally.
Based in Queenstown, he now shares his time between chairing Forsyth Barr, business interests and company directorships, and his “good cause” work. The philanthropy work has earned him many awards and accolades, including a knighthood, being named NBR New Zealander of the Year 2004, the Senior NZer of the Year in 2010, and being inducted into the Business Hall of Fame.
He’s the Chairman of the Winter Games NZ Trust, an organisation he created and helps to fund, and is thrilled that it has now one of the top four global winter sports competitions outside of the Winter Olympics.
“It’s doing a great job of profiling New Zealand and bringing in overseas dollars.”
He is particularly proud of his work with diabetes, and the University’s diabetes research centre, because it is tackling a massive and increasingly costly problem facing New Zealand.
Sir Eion has served on many other organisations, just some of which include the Foundation for Youth Development (formerly Project K), a trustee of the Halberg Disability Foundation, President of the New Zealand Olympic Committee and a Trustee of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand. He also founded and help fund the very well utilised Edgar Sports Centre in Dunedin.
And he has made a massive contribution to the financial services industry, formerly serving as Chairman of the New Zealand Stock Exchange, and as a Director of the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, and the Accident Compensation Commission.