Dr. Guy-Vincent Jourdan
My first contact with Ivan happened when, as a student in France, I planned to go abroad for a few months. As a PhD candidate working in the field of the Order theory, who else to contact but "le pape du domaine", professor Ivan Rival? So I sent my first email to him, a very carefully crafted message. I sent that message without too much illusion, preparing myself for a long wait and a disappointment.
A couple of minutes after, I received a message that just said: "Sure!"
He was a very fast decision maker.
Ivan did not like to sit around for hours delaying things. He was a real entrepreneur. Last Monday, Ivan and myself were in a meeting with a prospective client. An exciting project, but the client was struggling with internal questions of approved budget, fiscal year end, red tape. Ivan simply summarized the problems, detailed a possible solution and approved it, all in the same breath. Ivan just wanted to start on the project, now. He just could not stand delays and hesitations. If someone offered to have something done by tomorrow, he would always ask: "Why? Why tomorrow? Why not today? Why not now?"
I have deep in my memory those days, prior to DAG, where we would meet daily, Ivan, Nejib and myself, to work on pictures. We were trying to draw the requirements of university degrees, as well as the relationships that could exist among the courses offered by a department. We had slides, markers, and the power of the theory of ordered sets. That wasnít quite enough, it turned out. We still have the results of the first attempts, but we prefer to keep them for ourselves! But we kept trying, we got computerized, and we went a long way. At each step, Ivan was key. Faced with 10 ideas, we would turn to him for a decision, which one to choose, and then we would keep going. In the end, we had Degree Navigator, a software unique to that day, capable of offering a meaningful visualization of degree rules. Ivan went on. Under his leadership, degree audit capacity was added -- a function that is today still unmatched -- a web version was developed, at that time a complete breakthrough. And today, users all across the world. That wasnít enough! Ivan wanted to integrate web registration, he wanted on-line scheduling ... he made it all happen. The ideas beyond the software, the company to turn the ideas into reality, the vision and leadership, to turn the small, one-product start-up into the company that we enjoy today, it was all thanks to him that it all happened.
There was also his enthusiasm. He got excited about ideas, people, books, software, about the products that were developed at DAG over the years. He would never say, "We have this software..." He would say, "We have this fantastic software." Even though it was just the two of us, and we could have been canoeing out there on Lac Rheaume, it did not matter; he just had to express his enthusiasm. This constant enthusiasm was a key factor in building the company, carrying it forward and bringing people on board, clients and employees.
Today, this company that he founded in 1994 with Nejib is thriving. We have clients across the world, relying on us for their daily operation. We have employees whose lives are strongly linked to DAG. We have completely outgrown our initial market niche. We are seen as one of the most innovative, one of the most technically advanced companies of the field. And we are growing. Itís a very short time for such an accomplishment, and itís a big accomplishment for a man. We keep on going, but we sure will miss Ivan, a lot.