Leadership that Learns – Three Directors Share

We asked these leaders how learning is an important part of their approach in their units.


Marisa Albanese, Senior Director of Student Housing & Hospitality Services (SHHS)

“Providing opportunities for staff to share their ideas not only improves the quality of our services but also builds staff engagement. Providing them a safe avenue to share their concerns is equally important in any learning environment.

SHHS is a geographically dispersed unit with operations running 24 hours 7 days a week. We needed to find a way to encourage team members to come forward to discuss their thoughts on the unit, to share ideas for improvement, and any of their concerns. Our food service staff work front and center in our dining halls and interact daily with our students. We knew they had many good ideas to share."

SHHS initiated a "Meet the Senior Director" initiative in the fall of 2018. Employees were provided the opportunity to meet the Senior Director in their respective dining halls at RVC, BMH and Douglas Hall. Many staff members participated and, based on popularity, plans are underway to hold another "Meet the Senior Director" session in November/ December 2019.


Francois Miller, Director of the McGill Office of Sustainability

“Continuous learning and striving for excellence are key parts of the McGill Office of Sustainability’s ethos.

We try to embed these concepts in our daily work in different ways, such as by debriefing events we’ve hosted in the days that follow.

We always assess what went well, while also openly discussing which aspects could be improved in order to further enhance the participants’ experience. We glean input from our diverse stakeholders and aim to learn from our experiences. This furthers our intention of hosting meaningful events that bring people together and ties it into our broader goal of building a culture of sustainability at McGill.”


Guillaume Trottier, Director of Shared Platform and Development Services

"In my unit, it is certainly acceptable to “fail” and to make mistakes, as long as we learn and we don’t repeat the same mistakes twice.

To enable this, I had to encourage a culture of trust, transparency and 'no blame' and to ensure that we 'try stuff' within manageable risk. We do more and more 'Proof of Concept' exercises at the beginning of an initiative to see if our ideas can technically work. This approach usually works well within our unit. It is more difficult when we include other stakeholders, even when they theoretically agree upfront.

Since we implemented an agile delivery methodology, we also do 'Sprint Retrospective' every 2 weeks, where we exchange on what worked well and what needs improvement. Since we want to stay realistic, we prioritize a maximum of three items that we want to tackle before the next retrospective. This is usually a very dynamic and visual exercise."



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