2022 Best & Brightest Executive MBA: Jean-Pierre Michael, McGill-HEC Montréal

Jean-Pierre Michael

McGill-HEC Montréal EMBA

Age: 37

“Be nice to people on your way up, you will meet them on your way down.”

Hometown: Montreal, Québec

Family Members: Maryse (wife) and David (son)

Fun fact about yourself: I have travelled to 53 countries

Undergraduate School and Degree:

  • Bachelor of Business Administration from HEC Montreal
  • Chartered Financial Analyst from CFA Institute

Where are you currently working?  Executive Vice President at Sublime Desserts

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles: Humanitarian work in tribal regions of Africa and in Latin America. Youth leader and mentor in local community.

Which academic or extracurricular achievement are you most proud of during business school? It was the decision to enroll in, continue, and complete a rigorous academic MBA program despite an ongoing global pandemic. The increased uncertainties associated with this generational event, and their potential consequences, could have easily been a reason to postpone participation in the MBA program. I am proud of the courage and resilience my classmates and I have demonstrated during these challenging times.

What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? Being named one of the fastest-growing brands in the US after spearheading our company’s effort to penetrate and expand into this market has been an enriching and rewarding experience. I could not pass up this opportunity without thanking and acknowledging my team for all their hard work. After all, this recognition is a reflection of everyone’s concerted efforts.

Who was your favorite MBA professor? I am a firm believer in that there’s always an opportunity to learn something new, no matter what situation one finds themselves in. It is for this reason that, despite being a finance major and a Chartered Financial Analyst, I went into our MBA finance classes with an open mind.

Professor Sujata Madan taught me something extremely valuable: how to teach. This world class professor had an admirable proficiency for simplifying financial concepts with a dash of humor. “Everything can be explained in terms of pizza and beer!”, she would repeatedly say. With my finance background, I had a front row seat to fully appreciate, and learn from, her masterful teaching abilities.

Why did you choose this school’s executive MBA program? I chose the McGill – HEC Montreal EMBA program because there were marked advantages stemming from the dualities underlying its very foundation. First, being the fruit of a collaboration between two renowned business schools, would provide me with access to two alumni networks rather than one. The bilingual aspect of the program was also attractive to me as it allowed me to complement my learnings with an additional multicultural aspect embedded into the program.

What is the biggest lesson you gained during your MBA and how did you apply it at work? Good leaders knows that they must surround themselves with the right people. The MBA program taught me that the best people to surround myself with are those with skillsets complimentary to mine to create synergies where the sum of our team’s parts will be greater than the whole.

Give us a story during your time as an executive MBA on how you were able to juggle work, family and education? During the executive MBA program, my wife and I were blessed with our first child, David. The delicate balancing act of keeping up with the strenuous program requirements and navigating unprecedented critical global supply chain breakdowns at work, combined with the sleepless nights imposed by a newborn, made for extraordinary times that will not soon be forgotten.

What advice would you give to a student looking to enter an executive MBA program? With the recent normalization of videoconferencing tools, you might be tempted to virtually meet with your classmates for group projects more often than not, in the name of time efficiency. I strongly recommend you fight this urge as much as possible and meet face-to-face. The human connections and lasting memories of working side by side will far outweigh any short term time savings.

What is the biggest myth about going back to school? A common myth is that going back to school will serve to increase one’s knowledge base, but will not necessarily bridge the gap between theory and practice. Based on my experience, this could not be further from the truth when it comes to the McGill – HEC Montreal Executive MBA. At the end of each module, candidates are required to write an impact paper, which is essentially a reflection on how the learnings they acquired during the module can be applied directly and practically to their respective business.

What was your biggest regret in business school? Every year, the cohort travels to a foreign country to attend the Worldly Mindset Module. The aim is to exchange with, and learn from, the local business community. Unfortunately, due to government imposed travel restrictions, our cohort was constrained to attending the module domestically.

Nevertheless, I must tip my hat off to the program for making the best of the situation and compensating this setback by providing us with access to a wide variety of executives to interview via videoconference from across the globe.

Which MBA classmate do you most admire? Carlos Andrade, an MBA classmate of mine, has my full admiration for being a very well-rounded person. Conversations with Carlos are always insightful, regardless of the topic, and almost always end up with him making a recommendation for an audiobook, a podcast, or a YouTube video to provide further insight into the subject matter at hand.

What was the main reason you chose an executive MBA program over part-time or online alternatives? The McGill – HEC Montreal Executive MBA was appealing to me for two reasons. First, I was fond of the condensed 15-month program length. Secondly, I wanted to fully immerse myself in the MBA experience and build meaningful human connections with other executives.

What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? I look forward to someday accumulating enough professional clout to mobilize influential business leaders around me in affecting meaningful change for the less fortunate.

What made Jean-Pierre such an invaluable addition to the class of 2022?

“Jean-Pierre Michael is a fascinating mix of entrepreneurial spirit and big picture structure. He’s a Chartered Financial Analyst and started his career in corporate banking before moving into the family business Sublime Desserts, makers of, among other things, amazing Macarons. Jean-Pierre’s family business perspective was very enriching for the class: The long-term horizon, the importance of nurturing relationships, the pride and responsibility of being a key employer in one’s community, and the need to always come up with a solution and never give up.  This last one was really put to the test during the pandemic, where everything became that much more challenging.  These dimensions of his world, delivered in his thoughtful, candid, open way led to some important discussions throughout the year.

But the world of corporate finance is always there too.  For example, his capstone paper for the program was on “How critical is the due diligence phase to valuations in merger and acquisition transactions”. This breadth of perspective meant Jean-Pierre’s insights were both nuanced and well-rounded.  Beyond these ‘business’ aspects is a wonderful human being. Thoughtful and gentle, he is  clear in his beliefs and non-negotiables. What’s especially notable about Jean-Pierre is his recognition that no one achieves anything alone.  He recognizes the contribution of each and every person, from top-to-bottom in his organization, as well as outside partners, suppliers and clients.  He demonstrated that to us as well – at Christmas, he wanted to give a gift to his classmates – a box of Sublime’s exquisite macarons.  But he made it clear that this wasn’t just for his classmates and faculty. He wanted to be sure to include every person who had a hand in delivering the program: the catering folks, the cleaning staff, the audio-visual support team, the parking attendants and so on.  This perfectly captures his spirit and philosophy, and gave his classmates ‘food’ for thought throughout the year in more ways than one.”

Marianne Vandenbosch
Program Director,
EMBA McGill-HEC Montréal


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