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Dragons' Den and Shark Tank panellist Robert Herjavec is coming to Vancouver to speak at the NIBC student competition January 15

When he was a young entrepreneur, Robert Herjavec frequently recalls people thinking he was much older than he actually was.

“Now that I’m old, everyone thinks I’m way younger than I am. So that’s good, I like that,” said the founder and CEO of IT security firm Herjavec Group.

“It’s never the years, it’s the mileage.”

Herjavec, who average Canadians know best as a panellist on CBC’s Dragons’ Den and ABC’s Shark Tank, will get the chance to impart his own words of wisdom to young people in Vancouver this month.

The entrepreneur is presenting awards and speaking to students at the annual National Investment Banking Competition (NIBC) January 15 at downtown’s Pan Pacific Hotel.

The sixth annual NIBC conference, which runs January 13-15, is drawing about 350 post-secondary students from across North America to compete in a case study based on a banking transaction using information from publicly listed companies.

“It all mimics exactly what you would do if you were to work at an investment bank,” said NIBC board member Philip Chua, an associate at Macquarie Capital.

“The main incentive (for student participation) is there’s a lot of investment banking professionals, a lot of the big Canadian investment banks, the U.S. investment banks are presenting a lot of very senior speakers there. If team is able to win then they get quite a bit of recognition.”

The conference also features speakers such as Lions Gate Entertainment founder Frank Giustra, RBC Capital Markets' managing director of consumer and industrial Carrie Cook and J.P. Morgan's global co-head of technology Curt Sigfstead.

Herjavec said he’s looking forward to appearing at the event for two main reasons.

The former Vancouverite loves the city, which he describes as probably the most beautiful in Canada, and he loves working with young people.

“There’s an excitement and a drive and desire that’s tangible in young people that a lot of people my age lose along the way,” he said.

“I’m a pretty highly motivated guy, but I don’t think there’s a lot of people in their 50s that are as highly motivated as I am. And it’s very infectious to have the privilege to hang out with a bunch of business students who still see more opportunities than problems in life.”

Herjavec, whose own company saw its revenue grow to $140 million in 2014 from a few hundred thousand dollars when it was founded in 2003, said there are at least couple tips that could have helped him when he was young.

“When you’re young you want to build cool things or build great companies. When you’re older you want to provide great value because typically that’s what the market will invest in,” he said.

“(I) wished somebody would have told me life is long and it takes a long time to build something great.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton

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