The EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal, 10 years later…

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More than a decade ago, a group of 32 experienced leaders from diverse backgrounds began a journey that would mark the next decade of their lives.

Everyone who embarks on the EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal journey shows great courage by returning to school, but the participants of this first cohort were even more audacious. They could not count on the advice of the program’s graduates, nor could they see the potential impact that the program would have, as they were the first to go through it. They stepped out of their comfort zone and into the unknown, trusting the program directors and the reputation of the two great universities that joined forces in creating this groundbreaking program: McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and HEC Montréal, affiliated business school of the University of Montreal.

In connection with the McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA 10th anniversary celebrations, we asked some graduates from the first cohort the following two questions. Here are their answers:

Kimberly Cosgrove, Vice President, Cogela Construction

It was the mix between the excitement caused by your ads in the newspapers and a pivotal point in my life and my career. I felt the need to develop myself, because I wanted to improve and progress, overall as a human being. I could not resist the idea of participating in this new, unique program, which combined innovation, originality, and a personalized approach. In addition, the program’s schedule and structure were perfectly adapted to the reality of working professionals, ensuring enough breathing space so that we could also perform in our jobs.

The goods were definitely delivered. The program provided a unique experience, filled with powerful moments, enabling us to quickly apply our learnings in our organizations.   The richness collegiality and the quality of the exchanges between the participants and the faculty are still with me, even 10 years after. Overall, the teachings allowed me to gain a better understanding of my environment and to get to know myself on a deeper level. The program has given me the assurance that I can succeed in navigating in troubled waters. It also taught me the importance of taking the time to enjoy well-deserved successes.

François Rioux, President, Groupe Bertrand-Rioux

I had dreamt about doing my MBA for some time, and when I saw the ad for the EMBA McGill-HEC Montreal, I told myself that this program seemed made to measure for me.  First, I wanted a program that would meet my academic needs without any compromise. Second, the program targeted successful executives with great experience and had a schedule that allowed me to travel without neglecting my business. The program offered me two world-renowned universities, high-caliber professors supported by a great administration team, and extraordinary colleagues.

This is by far one of the best decisions that I have made in my life. The investment paid for itself even before I graduated! The program allowed me to pause time in order to recharge and do a deep introspection. This forced me to step out of my comfort zone, which led to some important insights that have proved to be very beneficial. The revenues of my organization have tripled organically in 10 years as a result, and the best is yet to come!

Michèle Meier, Vice President, Communications, Corporate Marketing and CSR,  and International Affairs,  Ivanhoé Cambridge

I had just been promoted when I decided to enroll in the EMBA McGill-HEC Montreal program. I felt the need to be better equipped and gain legitimacy for my new role, which required more interactions with senior management regarding the organization’s strategy.

My experience was both stimulating and rewarding. While feeling extremely proud of having completed an MBA while working full time with young children at home, I also felt a great humility regarding my role in the company. This program allowed me to understand the great complexity of our organizations. This experience also gave me the knowledge and confidence to add value to strategic planning teams. Finally, the EMBA allowed me to get to know myself better and to affirm my leadership style.

Laurent Pieraut, CEO, CS Communication and Systems North America

Ten years ago, I had developed my management experience by gradually climbing up the ladder in the company I was working at. I had developed an efficient work-style that proved to work well.  However, I had this nagging feeling that despite my experience, I was the product of an organizational culture, and approach to work that was stuck in a rut. I wanted to expand my perspective and open myself to different ways of thinking. In fact, I quickly realized that I needed to broaden my thinking in more ways than expected. This new program, which emphasized peer learning, worked with the Five Mindsets from Henry Mintzberg and had a refreshing approach to learning, convinced me to embark on this journey.

Whenever I face complex choices or situations, I come back to my EMBA experience. I come back to the reflections that took place during our exchanges in the classroom, and I sometimes imagine how one of my EMBA colleagues would act in a given situation. This gives me tangible references, and enables me to test ideas and solutions.

Throughout the course of the EMBA program, I got to know myself, I learned to better read my environment and to identify the various factors influencing a situation, and all of which positioned me to find more fitting solutions for any given problem or issue.

As a leader, I’ve seen that these experiences moved me to become a more inclusive manager than I had been, and to promote a more dynamic and team-friendly environment. I believe that this environment has been helpful for my teams, which have been able to overcome significant challenges in terms of both growth and business diversification, despite fierce competitors.

Caroline Dignard, Vice President, Legal Affairs and Chief Privacy Officer, Cogeco

I decided to start the EMBA program 10 years ago, because I was looking to gain additional tools that would complement those that I already possessed and that could be used in addition with the ones I had gained throughout my career. The McGill-HEC EMBA program seemed to offer what I was looking for: tools adapted for the needs, aspirations and realities of experienced managers; recognized professors and classmates who would enhance the learning experience. I got all of that and even more, including a network of expert colleagues that I consider family.

I’ll always remember my feeling of accomplishment, which began with the completion of the first module, but continues to this day. The cohorts that followed mine only confirmed the richness of the program, the quality of the faculty and of its participants. This program has, without a doubt, added to my skills, knowledge and experience- both on the personal and professional front, both  in the way I approach issues, challenges, projects, and in my interactions. It has also increased my confidence and competence, as well as my desire to learn, which I consider essential for any leader wanting to progress, inspire and guide others.