Originally from Montreal, with a keen desire to discover the world, I started travelling early. At 18, I headed out to France for 6 weeks in an exchange program. As my studies in engineering progressed, I was to repeat this trip every year or so for another 4 years.
During the summers, I worked in the aerospace sector. Each summer brought a new challenge in a new city: rocket propulsion (Québec City), astronomical satellite (Paris), telecommunication satellite (Montréal), Spacelab (The Netherlands). Upon graduating, my chosen sector was in contraction, so I switched to nuclear energy, joining Atomic Energy Canada (AECL) in Montréal, and acquiring a Masters degree in Nuclear Engineering.
Realizing that management was of greater interest, I headed to France 2 years later to get an MBA. At my return, I rejoined AECL as the aerospace sector was still in tailspin in a post-Apollo program era.
By 1980, the nuclear sector had peaked because of safety concerns. Seeing a future with limited personal growth prospects, I joined a Canadian multinational (Alcan, now part of Rio-Tinto) with operations in more than 20 countries on all continents. In my initial interview at the head-office, I stated that my goal was to work overseas.
After two years as head of engineering in an aluminum smelter in Quebec, then a technical sales position in Toronto, I became sales and marketing manager for a business unit manufacturing technical products. Over the next 3 years, I was to travel extensively in Asia and Latin America.
I then moved on to England, heading a business unit manufacturing products for the aerospace sector, travelling extensively in Europe, the USA and Asia. In early 1990, I elected to leave Alcan as it was moving away from technical products to focus on high-volume/low-added-value products.
I joined GE Canada in Toronto in business development, which provided opportunities to travel in Europe and Asia. Realizing that I preferred heading a business unit, I switched to heading businesses at a “turning point”. Over the next 15 years, I was to change company every two or three years.
I also had realized that being involved in the “thick of things” was interesting but it was also stressful. I wanted to try a totally different approach for my work. Teaching had always attracted me.
After teaching International Marketing part-time for one year at a college in Toronto, I made the jump to academia. I joined the School of Business at Conestoga College. I was able to capitalize on the knowledge I had acquired over the years, focusing on Business Strategy and International Business.
I never regretted this decision. Every new day allows me to expand my understanding of the world I live in and contribute to the development of young minds. How could anyone have a better job?