2016 Best EMBAs: Martin Carrier, McGill University & HEC Montréal

Martin Carrier McGill

Martin Carrier

McGill University & HEC Montréal

“My biggest lesson was learning to think beyond my instincts and discovering tools to help guide me to making more informed decisions. As managers, our experience guides us but it needs to be channeled, challenged, and formalized. The EMBA program has provided me with a new toolset to frame my decisions and guide my business instincts.”

Age: 45

Location: Montreal, Canada

Family Members: Corinne Demars (wife), children Ophélie Carrier, 10, Olivia Carrier, 8, and Thierry Carrier, 6

Education: Bachelor of Arts, Bishop’s University, Lennoxville, Québec; ESL Teaching Certificate, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec; Graduate Diploma, McGill University, Montreal, Québec

Where are you currently working? Vice President, Studio Head, Warner Bros. Games, Montreal

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work, and Leadership Roles: board member, Entertainment Software Association of Canada; president, Alliance Numérique (2013-2015); former board member (2012-2015), Fondation de la Place des Arts; board member (2012-2015), Fondation des Centres Jeunesse de Montréal; fundraising campaign committee member, CEGEP du Vieux Montreal

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? During business school, I’m most proud of having represented, as president of Alliance Numérique, the Quebec videogame industry and having highlighted our collective contribution to the province, both economically and culturally; as well as our work as an industry association resulted in winning back government support and furthering the sector’s explosive growth in the province.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I’m most proud of having been able to attract Warner Bros. to Montreal and having subsequently built a studio with a fantastic bunch of people making great games.

Attracting an entertainment industry giant to Montreal was both a personal and professional challenge. It was personal because it meant stepping far out of my comfort zone and becoming an entrepreneur, starting a consulting business and setting off on a journey where my patience and commitment were tested. It was professional because, once I became studio head, I had to learn my new role from scratch and trust in my judgment. Building a strong executive team was key to embracing this challenge.

Who is your favorite professor? This is a tough one! We had a great group of profs who were very generous with their time and their teachings. Alain Gosselin was one of the profs who has to be at the top of my list. This is a factor of his approach and also of the subject matter, human resources. His insight into the role of HR within an organization was highly valuable.

Favorite MBA Courses? My favorite class was taught by another of my favorite teachers, Louis Hebert. It was called The Analytical Mindset, Managing Organizations, and centered on business strategy and how it relates to an organization’s mission and vision. This class provided an eye-opening approach to the importance of strategy within an organization and explored the ways to drive strategic orientations.

Why did you choose this executive MBA program? The McGill-HEC Montreal is unique in that it brings together two great schools though a bilingual French-English program. Accordingly, the program taps into the faculties of two renowned institutions and offers classes in both of our official languages. For me, the quality of the professors and the program’s framework through the mindset approach as developed by Henry Mintzberg were key for me to choose the program.

Also, knowing that I would have classmates with a broad range of professional experience was an important factor that guided my decision.

What did you enjoy most about business school? Coming together every few weeks with my classmates was a real highlight and a fantastic learning opportunity. Beyond the classes and homework, I found that there was real value in sharing with my colleagues and learning from their professional and personal experiences.

What was the most surprising thing about business school? What surprised me most was how much I learned from my colleagues. The variety and breadth of experience that was brought to class every day is staggering.

What was the hardest part of business school? Time management! More than 15 months of holding a day job, being an industry leader, going to school while being a husband and father was the ultimate challenge. Juggling time and striving to be effective in all aspects of family, work, and school proved to be the hardest part of being in business school!

What is your best advice for juggling work, family, and education? First, if you have a family, going back to school in an executive program has to be a family decision. Once the family is on board and understands the sacrifices ahead, it’s important to set clear priorities. Holding to your commitments, remembering to exercise, and investing time in the right places is key to success and ultimately to managing the stress level that comes with this juggling act.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your executive MBA program? My best advice would be to make sure that you are ready and committed to the effort ahead. The executive MBA is a great opportunity and a fantastic challenge. But, before jumping in, you need to be prepared and fully committed.

“I knew I wanted to go to business school when …” I figured out it would help me be a better person and a better manager.

If I hadn’t gone to business school, I would be missing …” Out on an updated skill set, a renewed comprehension of my role as a manager, and an awesome group of classmates that I now call friends!

What are your long-term professional goals? Creativity and technology drive a lot of my personal and professional passion. I’m lucky that videogame development provides challenges in both of these areas. Going forward, I want to keep pushing the envelope to help deliver great entertainment through games and emerging platforms like virtual reality.

Who would you most want to thank for your success? First, I have to thank my parents, who had the vision and the courage to challenge me and send me to boarding school at 13. That decision helped shape who I am today.

Also, I have to thank my wife, my rock! Her support helped me turn a crazy dream of building a new videogame studio into Warner Bros. Games in Montreal, where 500 people now work! She also supported another crazy idea: that of doing an EMBA!

Fun fact about yourself: I’m from a really small town in Northern Quebec where there’s lots of snow, almost year-round!

Favorite book: La vie devant soi, by Emile Ajar.

Favorite movie: The Blues Brothers — on the lighter side …

Favorite musical performer: Queen’s News of the World was my first album

Favorite television show: “Modern Family” in English and “Les Beaux Malaises” in French

Favorite vacation spot: Back home at the family cottage in Abitibi (Northern Quebec), or Bandol, in the South of France

Hobbies? I’m a runner, running is my biggest hobby. I also get to play a lot of videogames

What made Martin Carrier such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016?

“Martin Carrier is a going concern. He heads up Warner Bros. Games in Montreal; until recently he was the president of Alliance Numérique, the Quebec videogame industry group; he’s a board member of the Entertainment Software Association of Canada; and he’s a very involved father of three young children. The energy and passion required to wear all those hats is something Martin brought to class every day. He was a great contributor in class, never afraid to challenge assumptions or question conventional wisdom. His questioning really helped to push the learning of his classmates.

“He’s an interesting mix of entrepreneurial spirit and big-picture structure. The entrepreneur in him enabled him to convince Warner Bros. Games to open in Montreal, and to let him run it, starting with a staff of four. His more structured side makes him an ideal person to build the organization, growing it into the 500-person studio it is today.

“His tenacity and perseverance really came in handy when, near the end of the program, he ruptured his Achilles tendon playing with his kids on the beach. No complaints, no missed classes, but instead, a fascination with what kind of transport he could cook up for himself that would keep all pressure off his foot and still enable him to get some exercise. A souped-up kick scooter did the trick, and captured Martin’s can-do nature perfectly.

“Finally, Martin is a very nice guy. He’s got a ready smile, an open mind and a generous spirit. For example, before the program’s Worldly Mindset Module to Argentina, he arranged for a sommelier to put on a tasting of Argentine wines for his classmates. He often invited classmates to industry events and speakers that he thought they would find interesting. He was and is generous with his network and connections.”

Louis Hébert
Co-Director, EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal
Director, MBA program, HEC Montréal
Professor, Department of Management, HEC Montréal

DON’T MISS: CLASS OF 2016: THE BEST & BRIGHTEST GRADUATING EMBAS