From Québec to France: Former McGill Desautels Dean Joins HEC Paris |

From Québec to France: Former McGill Desautels Dean Joins HEC Paris

By Tim Dhoul

Updated June 25, 2019 Updated June 25, 2019

Dr Peter Todd, who spent close to a decade at the helm of McGill Desautels Faculty of Management, has been named as HEC Paris’ next dean, and successor to Bernard Ramanantsoa.

Todd’s tenure at McGill Desautels was notable for shifting the school’s MBA program onto a self-funded model which removed the constraints of state-capped tuition fees, yet not without generating controversy in the process.

“Bold reforms” at McGill Desautels impressed

However, in the school’s announcement, HEC Paris describes the changes enacted by Todd as “bold reforms” which enabled Desautels to develop its program offerings as well as to increase its global reputation and autonomy.

The high regard in which Todd is held by the French school is all the more pronounced when you consider the shoes he must fill. Ramanantsoa has been dean since 1995 and his twenty-year tenure has been credited with enabling HEC Paris to attain its current international standing. Indeed, in the latest round of regional MBA rankings from QS, the HEC Paris MBA moved up from 10th to 4th position in Europe. (Incidentally, the number four is also the placing, among Canadian business schools, which McGill Desautels enjoyed at the time of Todd’s departure, and indeed, a position it still holds).

HEC Paris says Todd’s selection follows a selection process in which 20 candidates were whittled down to seven, who were each grilled about their strategic vision for the school. There is also a suggestion that Todd’s “dual English and French speaking cultures” worked to his advantage at a school which has never been led by a non-French citizen. The University of British Columbia graduate is now charged with adding to HEC Paris’ standing at the global level with specific mentions of improving the school’s research performance and boosting its fundraising efforts, according to HEC Paris’ press release

Status change seen as “new dimension” for HEC Paris

In the statement announcing Todd’s appointment, which will be effective from September, the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the Paris Île-de-France region (CCI Paris Île-de-France), Pierre Antoine Gailly, also spoke of HEC Paris’ upcoming shift to the status of EESC (Etablissement d’Enseignement Supérieur Consulaire) in 2016 as opening up a “new dimension”.

The EESC status, ratified by parliament at the end of last year, is the product of three years’ work and will allow HEC Paris, and other holders, a greater degree of financial freedom from France’s chambers of commerce and industry (CCIs) – in particular, they will gain an ability to attract external investors. These investors could collectively buy a stake worth up to 49% of an EESC’s capital, as specified by a condition that the relevant CCI must remain as the majority shareholder (another condition details that no individual investor can own more than a 33% stake). Even so, this is a legislative change that could yield a large impact on an EESC’s financial clout. 

Returning to Canada, McGill Desautels were, in May, able to announce their next permanent dean to be Isabelle Bajeux-Besnainou, a finance professor previously attached to the George Washington University School of Business.       

This article was originally published in July 2015 . It was last updated in June 2019

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).


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