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Becoming Leaders by Learning from Others - By : Pierre Houard,

Becoming Leaders by Learning from Others


This article was written as part of the Leadership and Collective Responsibility course offered to ÉTS students in the Winter 2021 semester, thanks to the support of the Jarislowksy Foundation. This year’s theme was: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic. Pierre Houard is at ÉTS to complete his engineering studies, as part of a student exchange program with his home institution in France, the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (UTC).

Pierre Houard
Pierre Houard Author profile
Pierre Houard is at ÉTS to finalize his engineering studies with the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (UTC) in France.

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“Ah, Montreal… Here I am at last!”

After a long journey, I had just arrived on Canadian soil and was already dying to discover the city, after going through my 15-day mandatory isolation. Ah, how long I had waited for this moment! In France, while attending classes at ÉTS, in my student room in Compiègne, even though everything suggested otherwise, I kept believing deep inside that I would soon be able to live the Canadian experience. Of course, we had to face the sometimes confusing uncertainties that were imposed on us. We had to think about the future, tame the unknown, and remain optimistic, even when it was becoming increasingly difficult. Therefore, it was natural that I quickly became interested in the Leadership and Collective Responsibility program, which was presented to us by my finance professor and program coordinator, Hanan Smidi, the theme being very familiar to me in many ways: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on the COVID-19 Pandemic. 

I was very excited about the issues and perspectives of the program, and I can now confirm, as the program is nearing the end, that my expectations have been fully met! 

This program pushed us to think about new and complex issues and, above all, gave us the opportunity to interact with and question different speakers—experts in their field—who were always willing to listen.

The program allowed us to acquire key skills to becoming good leaders, since it placed humans at the heart of the discussions, the considerations, the thinking. And I am now convinced that to be a good leader, it is vital to know how to listen and learn from others, an attitude that the program encourages us to embrace. That’s why I find Warren Bennis’ quote very true and appropriate for the program: “Leaders are made, not born.”

Finally, the program allowed us to become more fully aware of important issues—economic, social, political, environmental and technological—that we will have to face all the while taking a step back on the various potential events that could result from these issues.

So, it is in this sense that I recommend this program to the entire ÉTS community. And, I can assure you, it made us grow, both intellectually and as human beings. 

Soon, I will have to return to France to complete my studies. This summer, I will be back among my family in Marseille, with lots of memories. I will find my beloved Mediterranean landscape, basking in the familiar, yet comforting rays of the sun glittering on our beautiful sea that I miss so.

But I will not forget my life in Montreal and I will continue to nurture all that I have learned, not forgetting, of course, the smiles of all the people that I have met, relationships that I hope to pursue in years to come.

Pierre Houard

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Pierre Houard is at ÉTS to finalize his engineering studies with the Université de Technologie de Compiègne (UTC) in France.

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