The Operational Excellence Module of the EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal brought the learning to life by integrating expert executives into the curriculum to demonstrate how theory plays out in practice.

Let’s take a closer look at one of those interactions.  Vineet Gupta, Senior Vice President and CIO at Fairmont Raffles Hotels International met with the class as a live case for Professor Alain Pinsonneault’s session on how to maximize the value of IT to enhance the performance of organizations. Professor Pinsonneault discussed IT from the perspective of management – how should managers work with IT to achieve their goals?  One of his key messages: “the key is not how much companies spend on IT, it is having the right IT at the right time deployed the right way and used the right way.”  He emphasized the importance of understanding that the nature of IT investments should be a function of the value creation model of the company, along with its culture, size and industry context.

Vineet Gupta brought many of these concepts to life.  He’s very aware of the importance of the overall business model of the company as he thinks through next steps for IT, and actively looks for ways to enhance the company’s value.  He’s moved IT at Fairmont Raffles from a high cost support role, to an enabler for functional areas, and he’s sure to keep his eye on the ball, because at Fairmont Raffles IT is a profit center.  In order to get his ideas accepted, he needs to convince management of their value to the core business, and he readily admits that a third of his time is spent on this type of ‘sales’.  His team is always looking for ways to leverage the evolution in IT, especially now that internet has become the most important amenity hotels can offer.  He explained that he’s able to successfully innovate because he spends time getting to know the people who use his services.  That means he can identify who’s ripe to work with him on the many pilot projects he proposes as a first step to adopting new technologies and new uses for existing technologies. With a successful pilot in hand, risk of new projects is substantially reduced and it’s much easier to convince the organization to go ahead.

Mr. Gupta’s success at IT Fairmont confirmed that you can win with IT when you consider it as a strategic resource rather than an expense.

Vineet Gupta was only one of several experts the class met during the module.  They discussed various aspects of operational excellence with Raffi Donabedian, Vice President of Consulting Services at CGI, who is responsible for managing the business that companies outsource through CGI; with Yves Devin, former Director General of the Montreal Transit group; and with Louise Murray, Vice President of Creative Entertainment at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.  This integration of theory and practice is a cornerstone of the EMBA McGill-HEC Montreal.