Ian McPhee (BMath '73, MMath '79) arrived on campus in the late 1960s to study math and computer science. His studies led him to work in the Computer Systems Group until 1981 under Wes Graham, with whom he made history by becoming a co-founder of Watcom, University of Waterloo's first software spin-off company.
Under McPhee's leadership, Watcom thrived in the software industry, becoming Sybase Waterloo through merger and acquisition in the mid 1990's. McPhee later assisted with the $1.8-billion mergers of LivePage, Janna Systems and Siebel Systems, which was the largest software acquisition in Canadian history.
McPhee, who is currently director of NexJ Systems and Medshare Inc., has fond memories of building his own company: "Located close to campus and having close faculty ties, we had a recruiting advantage, enabling us to hire la crème de la crème," recalls McPhee. "The University of Waterloo drew the top math and computer science talent from across the nation and we hired from the top five per cent of the class."
However, McPhee's warmest memory involves his late wife Brenda, mother of his three adult daughters. "I'd have to say meeting Brenda on our way to a Village frosh week party, both in our second year, is my fondest University of Waterloo memory," says McPhee.
In addition to being a major donor to the University of Waterloo, McPhee is a tireless volunteer and promoter. He is past chair of the University of Waterloo Buildings and Properties Committee and is currently vice-chair of the University of Waterloo Board of Governors and has been a volunteer for Campaign Waterloo. In 1995, he became the first recipient of the Faculty of Mathematics' J.W. Graham Medal for Computing and Innovation and now chairs its selection committee. McPhee became chair of the Accelerator Centre board of directors in 2006, and earlier led its Entrepreneurship Council.