Pierre Marcouiller, Patron of the EMBA McGill-HEC Montreal class of 2019, invited ‘his’ class, the current EMBA cohort, to breakfast, for a lively discussion of leadership and learning.

Marcouiller is Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Camso Inc. since April 2017, after having been Chairman of its Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer since 2000.

To get the conversation started, he asked the class about the key things they’ve learned in the program so far. The responses were telling. Participants all talked about personal change and perspective change, rather than specific tools that they’ve integrated into their work.  They talked about the importance of taking time to reflect, of stopping to think before acting.  They also talked about how time management has improved, and how hard it is to learn the lesson that “good is enough”.  They feel enriched by now having the language to express their ideas and convey their messages more clearly. They feel more confident, in general, but also in speaking in front of groups.  They understand the value of diversity, because from the moment they set foot in class, they’ve been learning new perspectives from the different industries and areas of expertise represented in the class.  They’ve learned to navigate and embrace the grey zones, accepting that there’s value in the grey zone, and not all is black and white.

Mr. Marcouiller summarized all of these insights with a captivating picture: “Taking the time to go up to the balcony”.  By this he meant, when you’re in the heat of the action, you can only see your immediate surroundings – by going up to the balcony, you get a broader view and can see if you’re really going to have the impact you want.  It provides you with the pause, the reflection and the perspective that will enrich your decisions.

In fact, the breakfast, and the rich discussion it provided, was an excellent way for the participants to “go up to the balcony” to take a look at their progress in the EMBA.