Ottawa Business Journal - Ottawa at Home - - STEP INSIDE - writ­ten by vera cody pho­tog­ra­phy by mark holleron

The ad­ven­ture­some na­ture of Michael Pot­ter takes him from land to sea and up in the air to pur­sue his ex­cit­ing in­ter­ests. His savvy busi­ness sense is ev­i­dent in his role as a suc­cess­ful Ot­tawa en­tre­pre­neur and the for­mer CEO of Cog­nos Inc., but it is his role as a fa­ther

to three strong-minded daugh­ters that he cher­ishes the most.

Michael Pot­ter is pas­sion­ate about be­ing a dad to Michaela, 13, Ten­nyson, 12, and Lilli An­gelique, 7, whom he hopes to in­spire with his own pas­sion for travel and ad­ven­ture. Com­bin­ing a love for Cana­dian avi­a­tion her­itage with a phil­an­thropic spirit, he cre­ated Vin­tage Wings, a char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion that buys, main­tains and op­er­ates vin­tage air­craft. The foun­da­tion supplied the Waco Taper­wing for the movie Amelia in which Michael ap­peared as the pi­lot dou­ble for ac­tress Hi­lary Swank, who played the star­ring role.

At the age of seven, Michael and his fam­ily im­mi­grated to Canada from London, U. K. and lived in Van­cou­ver, Win­nipeg and then Vic­to­ria. He pur­sued a ca­reer as a naval of­fi­cer through the Royal Mil­i­tary Col­lege and then com­pleted his masters in physics at the Uni­ver­sity of Bri­tish Columbia. In the late ‘ 60s he moved to Ot­tawa and be­gan his ca­reer at the De­fense Re­search Board. He went on to ac­quire Quasar Sys­tems of Ot­tawa, a com­puter con­sult­ing com­pany that later be­came the lead­ing busi­ness in­tel­li­gence soft­ware maker Cog­nos; there he spent more than 23 years as Chair­man and CEO.

Ot­tawa At Home spent time get­ting to know this warm and in­spir­ing man dur­ing a visit to his his­toric Rock­cliffe Park home and the Vin­tage Wings of Canada han­gar, both mag­nif­i­cently re­flec­tive of his fine taste and pas­sions.

Trav­el­ling will help young peo­ple re­al­ize how great Ot­tawa is, but the world is a much big­ger place once you get com­fort­able work­ing within the global com­mu­nity. — Michael Pot­ter, for­mer Chair­man

and CEO of Cog­nos

What do you en­joy about your neigh­bor­hood and liv­ing in Ot­tawa? Ot­tawa is a great place to raise a fam­ily. I can’t imag­ine match­ing my com­mu­nity and the Cana­dian friends that I have any­where else in the world. It has proved to be a su­perb busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment for me and es­pe­cially for those who pur­sue a technology-based ca­reer. Young peo­ple should not feel that Ot­tawa, even Canada, is the limit to their hori­zons. Trav­el­ling will help them re­al­ize how great Ot­tawa is, but the world is a much big­ger place once you get com­fort­able work­ing within the global com­mu­nity. What qual­i­ties are im­por­tant to be­ing suc­cess­ful? It is amaz­ing what can be ac­com­plished when you pur­sue and de­vote your­self to a ma­jor ob­jec­tive. I be­lieve per­se­ver­ance is re­warded more than any­thing else in this life. My nod would go to the per­son who is will­ing to spend 20 years pur­su­ing a dream. How do you stay so ac­tively in­volved in your daugh­ter’s lives? I had the ben­e­fit of be­ing able to fully disen­gage from my busi­ness ca­reer at the age of 51. It is not some­thing that ev­ery­one can do. My kids come first. I will never be happy with my life if I don’t do the best I can to help them emerge as in­de­pen­dent young adults. Why is it so im­por­tant to ed­u­cate Cana­di­ans about our avi­a­tion her­itage? I have been fly­ing for over 40 years. Ac­quir­ing old air­planes in the past ten years I re­al­ized Canada had much to be proud of with the devel­op­ment of Cana­dian de­signed air­craft and our con­tri­bu­tion to WW II. These amaz­ing young he­roes who flew both fight­ers and bombers had re­mark­able and in­spir­ing sto­ries. His­tory is brought to life when Cana­di­ans see these air-wor­thy air­planes and talk to the pi­lots. These planes are ar­ti­facts that show Cana­di­ans what their his­tory rep­re­sented. Our ob­jec­tive is to ed­u­cate, com­mem­o­rate, and in­spire Cana­di­ans about Canada’s avi­a­tion his­tory. What do you ap­pre­ci­ate most about your life? I feel for­tu­nate in hav­ing three al­most end­lessly in­ter­est­ing daugh­ters and the re­ward­ing plea­sure and op­por­tu­ni­ties of watch­ing them grow up. Of all the things that I would be will­ing to give up if I was re­liv­ing my life, all the changes I would make, that would be the one that I wouldn’t change at all. I think it is re­mark­able that when you hit 50 and you haven’t even started that process, you would have to ob­vi­ously think that that’s not go­ing to hap­pen. I think I am the luck­i­est

guy in the world to have the op­por­tu­nity ( to be a par­ent) this late in life. Where do you see your­self five years from now? My par­ent­ing role will change launch­ing the girls into uni­ver­sity, en­abling them to leave the nest and ex­pe­ri­ence the world on their own terms. This will be chal­leng­ing, but de­mands at the fam­ily home will be less. I hope that I am still healthy enough to achieve an­other phase in my life then. Three years ago I bought an old, con­verted, ocean sal­vage tug that is ca­pa­ble of go­ing any­where in the world – the North­west Pas­sage, the Antarc­tic and any­where in be­tween. I want to take my daugh­ters, who are ter­rific young scuba divers, swim­mers and sailors to some of the more re­mote parts of the planet like the Western Pa­cific, South Pa­cific Is­lands, In­done­sia, Mi­crone­sia, the east coast of Aus­tralia and Asia.

clock­wise: Ar­chi­tect Richard Lim­mert in­cor­po­rated stone walls into a con­tem­po­rary dwelling. The sunken liv­ing room of­fers a com­fort­able re­laxed feel. Painted wood sculp­ture by Cle­ment Lemieux. Michael Pot­ter.

Thought­ful space is found through­out the home that en­cour­ages cul­tural pur­suits.

above: The Hawker Hur­ri­cane, this is the last Mark lV in ex­is­tence find more in­for­ma­tion at­tagew­ left: Michael Pot­ter at the Vin­tage Wings of Canada Han­gar.

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