02 May 2022 |
Research article |
Life at ÉTS
Leveraging Challenges to Increase Leadership
This article was written as part of the Leadership and Civic Responsibility course offered to ÉTS students in the winter 2022 semester, thanks to the support of the Jarislowksy Foundation. This year’s theme was: Agir dans un Québec mondialisé.
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“Leadership is the lifting of a man’s vision to higher sights, the raising of a man’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a man’s personality beyond its normal limitations.” Peter Drucker. (Direct quote)
I began my journey at ÉTS in fall 2019, in the days when the term pandemic only referred to the distant past. Downtown Montreal was bustling with life and so was the campus. I was working on the REM project for NouvLR-EJV (SNCL), and between classes and work, I rarely saw the inside of my apartment other than to sleep.
Then, in early 2020, while having a beer in a pub with a friend from ÉTS, the announcement was made that schools were closing and the pandemic had officially started. We thought we would have to adjust for a few days, then a few weeks … and finally it was a few years! This certainly changed the dynamics of university life: classes were transferred online, and I talked to people for months without ever meeting them in person.
Nonetheless, I think it is best to look at opportunities afforded by setbacks… Opportunities to adapt, to grow as a person, to learn new things. I read more during the pandemic than I had done for years. I reflected on social issues that I hadn’t had time to think about because I was sucked into the downtown Montreal lifestyle and my studies. I also learned to build relationships … from a distance.
Currently, I have the opportunity to participate in the Leadership et responsabilité citoyenne course (Leadership and Civic Responsibility, LRC-100) at ÉTS. I am nearing the end of my bachelor’s degree and I enjoy taking courses sometimes in person, sometimes online. This course, in the form of seminars, is supported by the Jarislowsky Foundation. It gives us the opportunity to attend multiple online lectures and to interact in small groups with renowned speakers. Our deliverable at the end of the course is a team project on an issue related to the theme of the semester. This year’s theme is “Agir dans un Québec mondialisé” (Operating in Québec’s Globalized Context) and the challenge of the term project is to ask ourselves: What will the greatest challenges be for Québec in the next 50 years?
For me, this course is a gold mine in terms of personal and professional development. Having the chance to speak with leading experts in various fields not only provides a wealth of knowledge, but also the opportunity to make connections and develop critical thinking skills. In addition, it’s an amazing networking opportunity and an inspiration to “think big.” The fact that we were online created something special with the speakers: they sometimes forgot the people who were at their screens listening to them. This created some very nice memories for me, particularly one where brothers Gérard and Lucien Bouchard were talking together and made us feel like we were at a special private dinner with them. The intimacy of the interviews brought a unique dimension to this seminar that later became a webinar. The lectures continue to resonate with me, even after the class. Maybe it’s my idealistic side, my solution-oriented attitude, or the amplified effect of the quality of discussions with the group … but I cannot provide a single argument to justify all the mental stimulation I experience after each class.
This course has also introduced me to other students at ÉTS with whom I could relate and who share my beliefs. In concrete terms, how does this course help us to develop as leaders? My answer is based on the definition above of leadership by professor, author and business consultant Peter F. Drucker, who also said that our relationships with others help define who we are.
Lifting Our Vision to New Heights
The way we view the world evolves as we accumulate knowledge and are exposed to different opinions. What is better than being surrounded by motivated students and diversified professionals to build and elevate our global vision of complex international issues? It is a great experience at ÉTS to be able to rise within a group through the LRC-100 course.
Raising our performance to a higher standard
The support of professors Hanan Smidi and Michel Lejeune in this course is invaluable in developing our term project and our critical thinking. They encourage us to deliver our best by fuelling a wide range of valuable conversations. Despite the physical interface of the computer screen between us, I will never forget the bonds I have created with these passionate professors.
Going Beyond the Limits of our Personality
Our personality is what sets us apart from others. Meeting inspiring people and talking with others made me realize that it has helped me to know myself better. The speakers made me reflect on who I am and value myself as a person. For the inspirational leaders you meet in this course, this is their superpower.
The LRC-100 course helped to improve the quality of my journey at ÉTS. I am sure that what I have learned will guide me as a future engineer and citizen. For me, engineering has always been a means to an end. This course fits perfectly with this vision: it offers a critical reflection on complex subjects that engineers of tomorrow will work on to create a better world.