Victor Vroom - St. Lambert High - Class of 1949

Victor seen here playing clarinet with dance bands during high school years.

Memory Lane

I have an early memory of a wrecked single-engine plane in a vacant lot. It wasn't there very long and was definitely “off limits,” but the temptation was too great for an elementary schooler who used to sneak in, sit in the pilot's seat, and pretend that he was fighting in the Battle of Britain.

Nicknames were the “order of the day” in Victoria Park School. Peter Terrill was “Tearpants,” David Dorion was “Doormat” and I was “Broomstick.”

Lynn Duke, Ann Hodge, Peter Terrill, Peter McKeeman, and I, along with anyone else who was around, used to play hide and seek on Union Boulevard. I had a secret crush on Lynn, but never let on!

I have fond memories of Saturday afternoon movies at the Astor and Victoria theatres featuring serials, which left you hanging and coming back the next week to find out what happened. All that excitement for 25 cents!

Commencing with the 24th of May, Plattsburg became a favorite spot for a day trip with its beautiful beach and inexpensive shopping. Added to that was the excitement on re-entering Canada at day's end and telling the customs official that “you had nothing to declare.”

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Victor Vroom was born in St. Lambert on August 9, 1932. He lived with his parents, Harold, an engineer at Northern Electric, and his mother, Avice, at 32 Union Boulevard. Victor went to Victoria Park School where his favorite teacher was Miss Pollock. His best friends were Peter McKeeman, who lived nearby on Hickson, and John Foulkes, who lived on Edison. (John arrived in St. Lambert in 1940 as an evacuee from the Battle of Britain. He introduced his Victoria Park classmates, including Victor, to the game of cricket in the green fields then existing on the south side of Union Boulevard.)

After completing Grade 4, Victor moved on to St. Lambert High. It was a long walk but was considerably shortened by climbing over the train tracks at the end of First Street. Since the trains were frequently occupying the tracks, he honed his decision-making skills by weighing the importance of arriving at school on time against the risk of crawling under the cars of the train.

In Grade 5 Victor took up the clarinet and, shortly thereafter, the alto saxophone. His love affair with music took off from there, and by Grade 7 he was asked to join the local orchestra, the Blue Knights, along with Jack Graham, Bob Whitehall, Stuart Strathdee, and many others. This orchestra played at dances in the high school gym and received many engagements in and around Montreal. For Victor the excitement of the music business and the thrill of playing alongside musicians five to ten years older was highly seductive, and the demands of high school took second place. Report cards frequently stated that Victor had potential, but his mind did not seem focused on his studies. It was clear to parents, teachers, and to Victor that he was not destined to follow in the footsteps of his two older brothers, Alan and Kenneth, who along with their father were distinguished graduates of McGill University. To Victor, this fact was no problem. His sole ambition was to move to the United States and become a prominent jazz musician.

For a number of reasons, that did not come to pass. Instead after graduation Victor used his earnings from his music to pay the tuition at Sir George Williams College. He later transferred to McGill where he received both a Bachelors and Masters Degree in psychology. Victor did indeed move to the United States, not to play jazz but rather to get his Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Michigan. While there he formed his own band, which he called The Intellectuals. Victor married Ann Workman in 1956, and they had two children, Derek and Jeffrey.

Victor's first real job, outside of music, was as assistant professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Subsequently, he moved on to Carnegie Mellon University and then to Yale University, where for the last 34 years he has held the John G. Searle Professorship at the Yale School of Management. During his career, Victor has written nine books and over one hundred articles. Two of those books, Work and Motivation and Leadership and Decision Making, have become classics in their field and are among the most widely cited works in organizational behaviour.

Victor has received awards for his research by the American Psychological Association, the McKinsey Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. He is one of a select number of behavioural scientists whose autobiographies are contained in the book, Management Laureates. His work is also profiled in Life and Works of Management Thinkers, a book dealing with the fourteen foremost contributors to management theory during the twentieth century, as well as in Great Minds in Management, published in 2005 by Oxford University Press.

In 1998 the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology honored him with its Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award, and in 2004 Victor received the Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award from the Academy of Management. In addition, he has served as a consultant to many government agencies and to over 100 major corporations in the United States and abroad. He has been elected to Fellowships in the American Psychological Association, the American Psychological Society, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the Academy of Management. He has also been elected President of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Today Victor lives in Guilford, Connecticut, with his second wife, Julia Francis, and their two sons, Tristan and Trevor. They spend summers enjoying their second home in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. Victor still teaches full time at Yale University interspersed with frequent lecturing engagements in Europe and Asia and less frequent sailing vacations on their sloop called Leadership. In addition, Victor continues to play both the saxophone and clarinet and claims that he plays "better than ever." However, he has no plans to quit his day job.

Professor Vroom teaching the fundamentals of team leadership to a group of business executives at the Yale School of Management.

More information on Victor H. Vroom can by obtained by “googling” Victor's name on the internet or by clicking on his name on the Yale School of Management website.

In 1995 Vic at helm along with wife Julia and son Tristan as they arrived aboard family yacht in New York Harbour.

Vic's sloop, "Leadership," at mooring in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.

Julia and Victor enjoy a pre-Katrina New Orleans jazz festival..

In 2004 Victor receives an award from the Academy of Management in acknowledgement of his scholarly contributions.

Currently, Victor Vroom remains a full-time faculty member at the Yale School of Management

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