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Jim Gouin ’84:”At the end of the day, it’s your values that matter.”

Jim Gouin ’84 is Vice President and Controller for North America at Ford Motor Company.

When he first started working at Ford Motor Company, Jim Gouin ’84 wanted to get his MBA. And like many people, he found the University of Detroit’s MBA programs a better fit than other schools, despite the increased cost this represented for a Canadian such as Gouin. Says Gouin, “The University of Windsor is a good school but it didn’t have a practical, workable program for me, all the classes were during the day. U of D’s programs, in the evening and on weekends, were more convenient.”

Gouin started with Ford Motor Company when only 19 years old and attended night school for his first five years with the company. Twenty-five years later, as controller for the automaker, Gouin is responsible for all accounting and financial activities worldwide.

The convenience of the MBA program, however, was only part of the equation. The University’s Jesuit tradition also played a part. Growing up in Ontario, Gouin had attended Catholic schools, and it was important to him that he continue in that vein. “U of D reinforced the strong ethical and moral foundation I had from childhood.”

Gouin made many good friends during his years at the University, and has fond memories of the Rathskeller bar and the old C & F building. While impressed with the new incarnation of the building—“it’s a heck of a nice change”—he maintains, “There was something about the old place; it had atmosphere.”

The C & F professors “were all very interesting characters;” he remembers particularly Professors Raphael Shen, S.J., Trevor Crick and Bahman Mirshab. Recalls Gouin, “Mirshab wrote tons of formulas on the board for the entire class, then at the end, he gave you the one formula you’d really need.”

He says, “The small college environment and the personal attention made for a great education that prepared me well for a future in business.”
Yet more important than any mathematical formula were the values and principles on which his university education expanded. “At the end of the day, your life is really based on the values and principles you take on for your life. For me, it’s being truthful in the way business is done. It’s being truthful with people you work with and who work for you—even when there are problems, such as with job performance.”

“The University instilled and continues to instill those values.”

Gouin has a message for UDM’s current CBA students: “Don’t think for a minute that because you didn’t go to Harvard Business School or Carnegie Mellon that you can’t be successful in the business world. Your degree is your ante into the game; once you’re in, the rest is up to you. Your success will be dictated by you, your values and principles, and your personal makeup.”