15 years later, Adviso prides itself through its continued involvement with higher education institutions in Quebec. Teaching pushes us to continually renew and own our expertise, while situating students within a practical reality that isn’t always accessible in an academic context. To do so, we put students to work and allow them to consult on concrete cases with smaller companies and organizations that face digital challenges. In 10 years, over 100 companies have benefited from this kind of hands-on teaching method! Teaching also helps us identify the best up-and-coming talents and the leaders of tomorrow, as many of the students who pass through our classroom go on to become peers, colleagues, and even competitors.
As the Adviso team continues to grow, so does the teaching experience within our staff, which is now comprised of 6 lecturers. Since 2015, our implication goes further than teaching, thanks to the Adviso Scholarship, which rewards academic achievements of students enrolled in the Masters in E-commerce at HEC. To celebrate the start of a new school year, our crop of teachers share their experiences in the classroom, and explain the value of industry players being involved in educational circles.
Course & institution: Introduction to e-commerce — HEC
Why did you decide to start teaching? I’ve always loved teaching. When I was in university, I worked for “Étudiants Bien Branchés”. We gave courses on the Office suite, and on the Internet, which was just beginning to take up more space in 1999–2000. We had a course on search engines where we showed how to use La toile du Québec, Altavista and Yahoo. The course was seriously simplified with the launch of Google!
Why is teaching important to you as a professional working in the industry? Teaching allows you to try diverse ways of explaining a concept to see which is simpler and easier to understand. You can test slides, workshops and homework and see which methods best help students learn. It helps me a lot in my professional mandates as well, because I can be confident that an explanation will be clear after I’ve seen 30 students understand it completely.
Can you remember a professor who had an impact on you during your studies? I was fortunate to have Jacques Nantel as a prof, so, of course, that was memorable for me. We’re lucky enough to still have him close at hand at Adviso on our advisory committee, so he’s still a regular source of inspiration.
Share a key moment you’ve had as a teacher: The first time someone asked me a question I didn’t know the answer to, I found it extremely stressful. When you’re teaching a masters course, some of the students can be very advanced, and some know more than me in certain areas. I quickly learned to tell my students that I don’t know everything, and that my goal was for all of us to leave the class having learned something.
Course & institution: Digital Analytics & Targeting; Internet Business Analysis & Optimization — McGill University
Why is teaching important to you as a professional working in the industry? It keeps me on the cutting edge of what’s happening in my field; the students are always very well informed and always want to push their knowledge further. It’s work, but I find it extremely rewarding to share ideas with future specialists and corporate leaders. It’s also an excellent way to structure your own knowledge while simultaneously sharing the knowledge and passion you’ve built up as a specialist in the industry.
How have you adapted your teaching style over the years? I’ve had to adapt the material I teach over the years, mainly because the industry is constantly changing, but I’ve also had to adapt the way I teach. In the spirit of continuous improvement, my teaching methods have evolved to put more emphasis on certain critically important but less well-known elements of our industry. I’m referring mostly to business skills, and skills related to making presentations and sharing knowledge among peers.
How does your work with clients get integrated into your teaching? I always try to work funny or inspiring anecdotes into what I teach, to make the material more concrete in students’ minds. As a result, all my experiences with clients become fodder for stories and examples that put things in perspective for students and help with the assimilation of knowledge.
Course & institution: E-commerce (BA); E-commerce (M.Sc.); École des dirigeants — HEC. Digital course — École d’entrepreneurship de Beauce
Why did you decide to start teaching? Being close to university has always been critical for me. It’s also a way to give back to the institutions and individuals that impacted Adviso’s journey.
Share a key moment you’ve had as a teacher: I’ve sometimes had the feeling that I was creating a future competitor right before my eyes, but this has never stopped me from being generous with information and being as transparent as possible. I sometimes have the pleasure of teaching some of my current employees, or seeing past students come back as clients during the synthesis workshop.
How have you adapted your teaching style over the years? I began to leave more room for discussion, because that’s where the real questions and issues come out, versus a strictly lecture-based course.
Course & institution: The Innovative Brand — HEC
Why did you decide to start teaching? I was approached to teach this course, and I accepted the challenge without a moment’s hesitation. It’s an honour and a privilege for me to have the chance to be in the company of the next generation and to be able, I hope, to influence the paths they choose. Over the years, as the role of manager was appended to my role as a specialist, I developed the skills to coach and develop my teams, so it feels natural for me to want to share my experience as much as I can.
Why is teaching important to you as a professional working in the industry? We work in a profession that requires a certain basis in theory, of course, but you never really understand it until you live it. As a full-time professional in the industry, I allow myself lots of digressions with the students on certain concepts, concrete cases, situations I’ve experienced with clients, consumers, brands. All this helps prepare them for real life, and to ask the right questions.
Can you remember a professor who had an impact on you during your studies? Yes, Jean Sébastien Marcoux, who taught the BBA Consumer Behaviour course at HEC back in the day. It’s really because of that course that I came to understand that the consumer is the key to putting together relevant, effective strategies.
How does your work with clients get integrated into your teaching? My role as a strategic advisor to clients comes very close to teaching. At Adviso, our mission is to democratize digital, so it’s important that our clients fully understand what we’re building for them. For that to happen, there’s a certain amount of education that needs to happen. Even in 2017, investing in digital can be a challenge for certain leaders. When I see that a project or an idea isn’t advancing or is hitting internal obstacles with the client, the cause is often a lack of understanding, and it’s our job to demystify that. I usually suggest a little training session or meeting, and most of the time that’s what accelerates decision-making and allows us to move forward.
Course & institution: Strategy and e-business — HEC
Why is teaching important to you as a professional working in the industry? It’s important to always have more than one project on the go, as they build on each other. The academic world isn’t afraid to dig deep into things, whereas in business, politics, budgets and deadlines often obscure the long term.
Can you remember a professor who had an impact on you during your studies? Frédéric Metz : he didn’t hesitate to question everything, particularly students who gave answers that reflected the trendiest ideas. He was also never shy about pointing out the tiniest mistake in your French, or any other lack of professionalism. His goal wasn’t to be loved, but in the end everyone loved him because he was authentic, and a perfectionist.
Share a key moment you’ve had as a teacher: Every session, I say that I strongly encourage the use of computers in class, especially because it’s a course in e-business. I love watching the students’ reactions.
Course & institution : E-commerce: technological challenges — HEC
Why did you decide to start teaching? First of all, I come from a family of teachers, so for me, it was totally natural to jump head-first into teaching. Other than that, it was important for me to give back to the institution that made me the professional I am today.
Why is teaching important to you as a professional working in the industry? The academic and professional worlds are two puzzle pieces that fit well together in spite of their differences. Teaching is important as a professional because it connects us to the academic research that often provides the foundation for tomorrow’s innovations. Conversely, injecting a bit of on-the-ground experience into the academic world helps students prepare for the job market and understand the types of challenges they’ll face after they graduate.
Can you remember a professor who had an impact on you during your studies? There are two who particularly impacted me. Camille Grange (during my MSc in E-commerce) because of her implacable rigour. She’s a teacher with a real passion for what she does and who pushes her students’ thinking in a way that leads to in-depth discussions. There was also Denis Larocque (during my MSc in Business intelligence) who is a career mathematician, but who has a rare gift for finding a way to make his material accessible. He’s able to explain complex concepts in such a relaxed and comprehensible way that for me, he incarnates the definition of an educator.
How does your work with clients get integrated into your teaching? Communicating in an accessible way, and understanding non-verbal cues. Those are two soft skills that are super important when you’re working with clients. And those same soft skills are just as important as a teacher! Adapting your language to make sure you’re understood is essential for clients to feel confident, and the same holds true for students. Likewise, when you’re making a presentation—whether it be to a client or a class—you have to be alert to non-verbal cues and avoid simply saying your piece without paying attention to what’s happening in front of you. Because after all, both teaching and presenting to a client should always be more of a conversation than a monologue.