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I am writing to share my experiences in Montreal as a visiting PhD student at McGill during the 2007 fall term and to thank the university and La Conférence des Recteurs et des Principaux des Universités du Québec (CREPUQ) for this unique learning opportunity.
I am Brazilian, 42 years old and married with two kids. I live in Curitiba in the south of Brazil and work for COPEL, one of the largest Brazilian power utilities. I did my MBA in Strategy and Change at the University of Bath, England. I am now in the last year of my PhD in Management at the University of São Paulo, the largest institution of higher education and research in Brazil, and the third largest in Latin America.
As a practitioner, I see that too much of the current literature continues to downplay the human issues that affect the strategy process and the sustainability of organizations. Therefore, I decided to pursue a PhD to study the human aspect of organizations. Based on a careful investigation of the world as it is, I hope my thesis can highlight new factors that require attention in integrating strategy and people, two important fields in the theory and practice of management.
Due to its interdisciplinary nature, this research proposal was to be investigated through the perspectives of different academic areas. Since my doctoral thesis was under the supervision of Professor Lindolfo Albuquerque, a pioneer in strategic human resources in Brazil, the perfect co-supervisor from abroad would be a strategy researcher who acknowledges that the human endeavour makes organizational life a reality. This led me to the guru himself, McGill professor Henry Mintzberg. But how could I make my dream of working with him come true?
Fortunately for me, Professor Mintzberg came to Brazil to open DNA Brazil 2005, a workshop to ponder Brazil's future organized by Ricardo Semler (the Brazilian thinker known around the globe for his innovative management style as president of Semco). It was Professor Mintzberg's first visit to Brazil, and my one and only chance to tell him about my dream.
Thanks to the student exchange programs set up by CREPUQ, and to Professor Mintzberg's interest in my research proposal, I ended up at the Desautels Faculty of Management in September 2007.
At McGill, as a member of Alumnilife (the McGill alumni association), I participated in innovative programs ranging from the McGill Mini-Biz, to a lecture on international space missions by Canadian astronaut Dr. Dave Williams, and to an international debate on business and the poor by political leaders. I am now part of an international business community spread throughout 160 countries — a valuable network and knowledge base. I was also invited to participate in the 2007 Electrical Power Conference organized by IEEE Canada, and to join the Montreal Local-Global Research Group, creating bilateral ties between Quebec universities and the University of São Paulo.
Regarding my thesis, Professor Mintzberg's vision of theory development has been invaluable in improving my research design and my reflections on the findings, which include not only Hydro-Québec as I had planned, but also McGill and Semco, as suggested by Professor Mintzberg. As part of my research, I conducted in-depth interviews with executives and professionals from Hydro-Québec and with scholars at the Desautels Faculty of Management.
On top of that, my research proposal was presented and discussed in a very special forum made up of professors and PhD students not only from McGill, but also HEC, Concordia and UQAM. It is called The Mintzberg Colloquium, one of many successful Mintzberg initiatives to share knowledge in a very pleasant way.
Indeed, McGill and CREPUQ offered an opportunity of inestimable value not only for my doctoral program, which has put me on the cutting edge of international research, but for my family as well. During the 2007 fall term, my two children studied at Formation Artistique au Coeur de l'Éducation (FACE), where my wife also worked as a volunteer enjoying the school activities together with our kids. The exciting culture, life and sports activities we all enjoyed, and the remarkable Canadian friendships we made, are memories we will cherish forever.
Thank you McGill for this wonderful opportunity. I look forward to seeing Montreal again at the beginning of 2009 to share my research findings with friends at the university, Hydro-Québec, and the Mintzberg Colloquium.
Marcos Bosquetti is currently a PhD in Management at the University of São Paulo.