After three successive terms and 13 jam-packed years at the helm of the ship known as HEC Montréal, director Michel Patry turned the commands over to his successor, Federico Pasin, on June 30. The list of what Patry and his team achieved during his tenure is obviously a long one, considering the school’s now-established and enviable reputation, not only in Montreal and throughout the province, but across Canada and around the world.
HEC Montréal plays a vital role in the city whose name it bears and strives to serve the needs of local businesses and organizations, in particular through Executive Education HEC Montréal, a member of the worldwide UNICON consortium of 110 business schools. In the prestigious 2019 Financial Times Executive Education Ranking, Executive Education HEC Montréal came in a very respectable 61st place.
Now that he has turned over the reins, we asked him for his top three achievements as he looks back at his time with the school.
“What I’m proudest of is the quality of the people who have agreed to work with us at HEC Montréal. During my final days at the head of the school, I had the chance to speak to many of my colleagues, and I was moved by how deep their commitment runs. It’s important to remember that our instructors’ managerial and administrative tasks are very demanding and require them to put their careers as teachers and researchers on hold. They invest their time and energy in making sure the school runs smoothly and often have to take part in labour negotiations and manage conflicts with their peers. It’s not always easy. All in all, I am very proud of how involved my academic colleagues have been.”
“When I started teaching economics here in the early 1980s, the school’s international profile was quite low. Whenever I’d go to a conference, I’d find that most people had never even heard of HEC Montréal. As I’m stepping down, I do so very pleased to know that our reputation has gained momentum over the years. People in academic circles know who we are now. HEC Montréal is on the radar in such fields as risk management, arts administration, data sciences, artificial intelligence and entrepreneurship. But this sense of pride is a collective one. It isn’t limited to our Executive Committee. The excellence of our teaching, our research and our alumni who are scattered across the globe has a lot to do with it too. And it’s all built on a solid foundation that’s meant to last.”
“One of the criticisms that is levelled toward many business schools is that, although they do a lot of research, there’s far too little interaction with the real world. Once again, this is a point of pride for HEC Montréal, as we have developed a number of channels designed to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from one sphere to the other. We have several hubs in this regard (for healthcare, creativity and innovation, to name a few), along with our Gestion business magazine, online courses using the EDUlib platform and Executive Education HEC Montréal, which provides training in every aspect of management and new technology, in conjunction with the Creative Destruction Lab – Montreal, NextAI and IVADO (Institute for Data Valorization). We have done a number of things to ensure that what is developed at HEC Montréal is made available and accessible beyond our institution.”
Three consecutive terms at the head of one of the most highly regarded business schools in the French-speaking world is not something that happens by accident. Patry could easily sit on his laurels and coast on his reputation as a top university administrator. But instead he chooses to shine the spotlight on the school’s achievements as a group and the development of the institution that has flourished under his guidance. This speaks volumes about the strength of his leadership.
A good leader is also one who looks to the future with confidence and optimism. We’ll leave the last word to Patry himself, who will be stepping into the role as chair and CEO of the HEC Montréal Foundation, about how he sees the institution’s future: “HEC Montréal enjoys an excellent position in Quebec and the rest of Canada, as does our city. Montreal always ranks as one of the best places in the world for postsecondary education. Yes, the U.S. will continue to be attractive to students. But the social harmony, quality of life and low cost of living we have in Quebec and across Canada are a huge bonus for the school. I firmly believe that HEC Montréal will continue to grow in leaps and bounds in the years ahead. The best is yet to come!”