What position do you hold at HEC? What has been your career path so far?
Éric: I am currently the Manager of the Business French Summer School at HEC Montréal Business School where I also teach Business Communications to students whose mother tongue is not English.
I have been in the "Language industry" for over 25 years, teaching and running numerous academic programs, notably language summer schools, in France (where I hail from), England and now Canada.
Did you study abroad? If so, where and what inspired you to go?
Éric: When I was a young adult, I had the opportunity to study both in the United States and in England. This proved to be extremely rewarding since it gave me the chance to be with students from around the world and to further improve my English speaking and writing skills.
What does the future hold for HEC - any exciting new programs to share?
Éric: This Business French Summer School is the new program that everybody is raving about at HEC Montréal.
Indeed, this summer school is quite unique in that it is the only program in North America that offers credited Business French courses, at all levels - from total Beginner to Intermediate/Advanced - along with a stimulating cultural and professional component through numerous outings, within and outside Montreal, as well as many cultural and company visits.
These outings will give participants the opportunity to appreciate the depth and breadth of our beautiful city and the role it plays economically in Canada and the rest of the world.
What about the future of the industry? How do you think study abroad and international education will change over the next 10 years?
Éric: The future is very bright for Study Abroad Programs. It is now extremely easy and economically viable to go and study abroad and this trend is here to stay. A study abroad experience has become a "must" in anyone's resume.
Which study abroad destination is most underrated? Conversely, which is most overrated?
Éric: Whether students come North, Central or South America, the destination they have in mind if they want to study French is France. This makes sense; however, there are so many other countries where French is the mother tongue and where learning the language is possible.
Montreal, in the Province of Quebec (Canada) is one of these destinations. People on this continent should be more aware of Montreal as a place where one can immerse oneself not only in the French language but also in a culture that has been going strong over 400 years.
The other advantage of coming to Montreal? It is within reasonable traveling distance for many major cities on this continent without having to fly all the way to Paris or for that matter any other French city. The cost of living is also advantageous here in Canada.
Why is language learning and cultural immersion important to you?
Éric: Learning a language goes far beyond the classroom. This is the reason why all the summer programs I have thus far created and run at various universities around the world have always had a strong cultural component with numerous and varied outings thereby providing participants the opportunity to experience and get a better grip of the language used in real-life situations.
How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?
Éric: HEC Montréal Business School is a stimulating environment to work in due to the high caliber professors who teach here. The School is also constantly at the forefront of innovation when it comes to academic endeavours.
What language have you always wanted to learn and why?
Éric: In junior high and high school, I studied English, Spanish and German. I also studied Latin for a few years. This proved to be extremely helpful in the career I later on embraced as a language specialist.
I have always been fascinated by languages and how culture is fashioned, among other things, by the language used. I would love to study Japanese for I have a real fascination for this far-away country.
What changes would you make to the study abroad industry?
Éric: There are so many study abroad programs these days that it's quite difficult to pick and choose the program that best fits one's needs.
First and foremost, I think it's important to select a program offered by a well-known institution, with proper and recognizable accreditations. HEC Montréal falls into this category in that it was the first university business school in North America to obtain the 3 most prestigious accreditation in its field (AMBA, AACSB International and EQUIS).
Study abroad programs should also be clear as to the academic objectives they aim to provide.
Describe a time when you felt especially proud to be part of the HEC team.
Éric: I felt really proud when the former director of the Business Language Training Center at HEC Montréal, Dr. Marie-Éva de Villers, one of the most revered linguists in Canada, gave me the mandate to put together and manage this Business French Summer School.
What is the best story you've heard from a return student?
Éric: I do not have one story per se, but I am always amazed to discover how much students have gained in confidence and grown on a human, personal and academic level, after having spent some time studying abroad.
What does your home-country 's culture value that is taught in your program?
Éric: Open-mindedness, inclusiveness, equality and "joie de vivre" are part and parcel of living in Montreal and these qualities are all at the very heart of our Business French Summer School at HEC Montréal.