HEC Montréal Presents Its Very First Trilingual Cohort

In Three Languages, Please!

May 7, 2008

HEC Montréal is very enthusiastic and proud today as it celebrates the success of its first trilingual Bachelor’s in Business Administration (BBA) cohort. The program, established in 2005, is still the only one of its kind in North America. It allowed these 68 students to develop strong management skills and better understand business culture – and to do so in French, English and Spanish. Now they are ready to carve themselves out a place on the labour market or pursue further studies.

“The trilingual BBA attracted a group of curious, cultivated students, open to the world. They have honed their critical and organizational skills and are more ready than ever to work in a multicultural world,” says Federico Pasin, Director of the BBA program. “Presenting projects, working on assignments and defending one’s ideas in English and Spanish are huge challenges when you’re not as strong in those languages as in your mother tongue. It calls for exceptional flexibility and adaptability, and the experience teaches you humility.”

“I chose the trilingual BBA because I wanted to improve my understanding of the business world, and this gave me a way of doing it from a different and more global angle than traditional programs,” explains Jean-Philippe Deschamps-Laporte, a student in the first cohort. “I had the opportunity to study for one term in St. Petersburg, Russia, and starting in September I plan to do a Master’s degree in economics or sustainable development in Sweden.”

Catherine Tees, for her part, spent her term abroad at the University of Bath, in England. “It was a unique experience that gave me a chance to continue my training in finance, but especially developed my self-confidence, my ability to fend for myself and my self-assurance. Now I know that I can work in other places and other countries.”

Ilias Benjelloun heard about the trilingual cohort when he was at school in his home country of Morocco. The idea of studying in three languages attracted him, and so he joined the group of students looking to discover new cultures. “International students get an extraordinarily warm welcome here at HEC Montréal and in Quebec. The trilingual cohort fed my intellectual curiosity. It encouraged me to take part in some student associations and to help others. I understand that other cultures are just as rich as our own and that there is a world out there to be discovered.” Ilias was the President of Club Action Bénévole Communautaire in 2007-2008, a student committee that encourages local and international volunteer work.

The trilingual BBA confirms HEC Montréal’s status as a leader and is perfectly in line with the School’s international focus.

How the trilingual cohort works

For the first three terms of the program, trilingual BBA students take five courses in French, five in English and five in Spanish. By the end of the second term, they study abroad in their second or third language as part of the School’s international exchange program. They can choose from 87 partner institutions in 32 countries, including Spain, Argentina, Chile, the UK, Hong Kong and Singapore. When they return, the trilingual BBA students reintegrate the normal program. Some 150 other students are enrolled in the first and second years of the trilingual BBA, and the program continues to grow in popularity.

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