Stéphane Brutus grew up in Montreal’s Rosemont neighbourhood, with a clear view of the Olympic stadium, or “The Big-O” as the locals call it. It was an appropriate backdrop for an active kid who spent a lot of his childhood years focused on sport. Now, Brutus will be trading one “Big-O” for another as he begins the next chapter in his career as the new dean at uOttawa’s Telfer School of Management.
If you had asked this sports enthusiast back then if he would grow up to become an academic — a dean, no less — the answer would likely have been no. In fact, it wasn’t until he discovered the active sport of research, well into his university education, that Brutus realized that higher ed was more than lecture halls and passive learning. That’s when he started to see a place for himself in academia.
After 23 years as a professor at Concordia, a year and a half spent as interim dean of the John Molson School of Business, Brutus will begin his new role as Telfer’s dean this week. He replaces Professor François Julien, who served as dean for two terms, from 2010 to 2020. Professor Wojtek Michalowski has been interim dean since summer 2020.
Shortly before beginning his new role on March 9, Dean Brutus took some time to introduce himself and share his vision for Telfer in the coming months and years.
What excites you the most about being Telfer’s new dean?
Well, that’s easy — Telfer is a really good school, and it kind of flies under the radar in the Canadian business school landscape. Of course, we need to grow and develop, but the school is strong as it is now. The biggest opportunity is getting Telfer more well known. So what excites me most is unveiling Telfer to the world.
Your research background is in performance management and feedback — how does that influence your leadership style?
Just as a marketing professor might see an organization through the lens of its brand, and a finance professor through its financial resources, I’m an HR professor and I look at organizations through the lens of human resources. Telfer is the sum of its professors, staff and students, so I’m a big believer in development. Professors at Telfer come in at one level, and throughout their career, they need to experience growth in teaching, research, and in their leadership roles. The same goes for our staff and of course our students. A real priority for me is to make sure that they have development opportunities within our system so they can keep growing personally and professionally. I really see my role as creating a system where people grow in the Telfer and uOttawa system.
What is your vision for the School in the long and short term?
My two short-term goals are to revitalize our programs, which I think we can accomplish relatively quickly within the next few years, and to keep up the research momentum, which is on a strong upward trend. For the long term, I think it’s just a matter of increasing the visibility of the School and boosting its reputation on a national and international scale. We can do this by creating alliances with other business schools, making our programs accessible to learners around the world, and by creating first-class global research hubs.
Is there anything you would like to say to your colleagues across campus as you set out in this new position?
I really want to see us working across boundaries within the School, but also across faculties at the University. There is so much opportunity here. Let’s say you’re studying Fine Arts or Physiotherapy — how can Telfer help you acquire the knowledge you need to start your gallery or your clinic when you graduate? These are are just a couple of examples of how we can create innovative programs that are both useful for the market and beneficial for our students.
As you settle into your new hometown, what kinds of things outside of work will you be doing to fill your free time?
I have always been really committed to work, but it is critical for me to balance that out with activities that allow me to disconnect. What I’m looking forward to in Ottawa is following the Gee-Gees, going to games, going to the Panda game, seeing basketball, wrestling — whatever — I’m a big fan of sports.
I can’t wait to play ultimate frisbee and I’m hoping to find a team that would be willing to accept an old guy who can’t run that fast anymore. I also play a lot of tennis, so I’ll be looking to join the Ottawa tennis community and find some tennis partners who can run me off the court.
We’re really happy to have you at uOttawa, but it must be hard to leave Concordia after 23 years. How are you feeling about that?
I have had a really warm welcome from the uOttawa community. It’s really heartwarming. Being at the same place for so long, you make a lot of good friends and colleagues. So, it was really hard for me to leave my Concordia family. But the welcome I received here is very comforting. It makes me feel like I made the right move.
All Telfer students are invited to join Dean Brutus for a fireside chat on Monday, March 15 at 10:30 a.m. Registration is required.
The Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa is the proud academic home of some 4,300 students, 200 faculty members, and over 25,000 alumni. Everything they do, from teaching, to research, to policy advice, is firmly aligned with helping Canada reach its potential.