Giving Time to Desautels Students in the Classroom

Top-level executives and businesspeople are enriching classroom learning through the Desautels Global Experts program

Emerging markets have risen. Supply chains have gone global. And just about everything has gone digital. In recent decades, the way we do business has changed in profound ways, but even as it has rapidly evolved, the importance of knowledge and experience have remained paramount.

“When I started in the investment industry in the late 1980s, there was already a lot of information available. Today, with technology, all of the information is being pushed at you. Everything is at your fingertips, and the challenge is to decipher what is important and what is not,” says Christine Décarie (BCom’86), a former Senior Vice-President and Portfolio Manager with Mackenzie Investments.

Through the Desautels Global Experts program, Décarie shares some of the knowledge she has accumulated in more than three decades in investment management. The program invites executives and top-level business practitioners back in to the classroom to share their expertise with the next generation of students.

“Things evolve, but you do still learn from experience,” Décarie says.

“My first boss told me that I would learn by osmosis, but I had studied science before, and I knew that this would not be a quick process. When everything changes all the time, what you learn today might work, but a few years later, things can behave differently. So, it is not necessarily about learning how something happened last time. The future is not always a replica of history, and your judgment grows over the years.”

And part of that comes from learning about yourself as an investor – and everyone is a little different in that respect.

“In investments, you will not be right 100% of the time. If you start with the premise that all of your ideas are going to be good, it is not going to work that way,” says Décarie.

“A large part of the work is finding good investment ideas with great returns. But managing risk is also very important. You always need to evaluate both risk and return. As an example, do you prefer to invest in a company where you expect an upside of 60%, and a downside of 60%, or another one where you expect a 25% upside and 5% downside? What is best? It depends on several factors, such as your investment style or the proportion you allocate to this company in your portfolio. There is no right or wrong answer. Time will tell, but having a good grasp of the expected risk as well as the return is always very important.”

The Global Experts program aims to bring theory to life by complementing the research of professors with the depth of knowledge, experience, and expertise of the alumni base of the Desautels Faculty of Management.

Adrian Brown (BCom’04, DPA’07) views the program as one way to help students better understand a sector whose intricacies can be challenging to fully grasp in a classroom setting.

“A lot of my conversations with students are about the wealth industry as a whole – with a focus on topics like leadership, performance and achievement,” says Brown, a Branch Director at RBC Dominion Securities in Montreal.

When Brown began his studies at Desautels, he didn’t know anyone who worked in the financial services sector, but his studies helped him make those connections, and get his career on track.

“I had to figure it out on my own, but McGill was such a great door opener in that respect,” Brown says.

“I got to talk to fellow students, and to meet people. And I try to assist students by being a little bit of that connector between the different parts of the finance world. When I give a presentation about the wealth management industry and equity markets, I try to make it very conversational, and invite questions. I find that it is most beneficial for students to be actively engaged in something that they want to learn. I haven't worked in all areas myself, but I know enough people who have that I can try and provide that little bit of insight.”

Desautels Global Experts are asked to give at least one presentation each year, and to make a contribution to Desautels. Brown chose to fund a bursary for a student with financial need. It is something that he always intended to do one day, but doing it mid-career gives him the satisfaction of knowing someone is benefitting now.

“There is no time like the present to start something like this, and you can continue to grow it later on,” Brown says.

“Now, more than ever, the cost of living for young adults is very significant. We have a great support system for keeping post-secondary education costs low in Canada, but it can still be a challenge to find adequate support. Everyone has their own story, and if I am able to help out one student even a little bit, I am happy to do that.”

Article written by Ty Burke

Desautels Global Experts

Integrating Teaching, Research & Practice

As top level executives & practitioners in the industry, the Desautels Global Experts contribute to our students' learning experience.

Back to top