Many recent grads bid farewell to their school in order to set out into the “real world” and begin their career in earnest. Marc Gauthier instead found his share of the “real world” without ever having to leave his campus, successfully completing two separate degrees at his alma mater, Concordia University. For the past 25 years Gauthier has been working for the Montréal-based school, systematically evolving to university treasurer and investment officer.
“The most condensed expression that I can describe my professional experiences is of a change agent,” he says. “The development and implementations of an enterprise risk management and integrated capital budgeting/financing infrastructures to the development and implementation of a risk-adjusted investment strategy for our pension plan are some examples.”
Gauthier’s professional DNA is essentially risk management. “As such, my innovation focus has been to develop and support a culture of risk-adjusted behaviour and decision-making at the university,” he says. “My adjustment and evolution has been to persevere in bringing along frameworks, strategies, and processes at the pace that the university evolves in.”
“My focus is always on positioning myself so I’m always a step ahead to the uncertainties that surround my environment.”
One of his most noteworthy achievements to date has been creating awareness and development of enterprise risk management at the university and a risk-adjusted investment strategy for its pension plan.
“Although the notion of risk management is still not fully matured at the university, it has been very satisfactory recognizing the broadness it has expanded upon and the shifting of such a culture within a community that is very diverse and large,” Gauthier says.
In his view, strategic and governance skills must be developed and maintained internally with a focus on innovation and fiduciary values, while operational activities should be designed to optimize one’s business environment through a mix of internal or external sourcing.
Gauthier subscribes to the belief that you must empower individuals in order to position them with the opportunity to become the best that they can be. “I have a strong conviction towards my values and beliefs the drives how I conduct myself,” he says.
Among them are the value of trusting individuals but framing them in a surrounding and supportive structure of open and constant communications; the value of being appreciative and loyal to the individuals and its global institution that provides you with your opportunities; and the belief of the need to balance your professional responsibilities and passions to your personal ones in order to remain consistent and true.
An average workday for Gauthier involves meetings on meetings—half with experts in the field and the other half with either fiduciary strategic-planning committees or with his team focusing on priority execution and support. Intellectual work is mainly done outside of working hours.
With so many responsibilities, Gauthier sometimes finds it hard to make time for everything equally, but he’s had more than enough years to know what needs to be done and when. “My focus is always on positioning myself so I’m always a step ahead to the uncertainties that surround my environment,” Gauthier says. “As such, close to half of my time is dedicated to meeting and having discussions with experts in my fields to exchanges ideas or emerging situations.” The rest is shared between strategic governance planning and execution and supporting his team.
“I’m extremely fortunate to have an outstanding team where all individuals have a high standard of quality they imposed themselves against, which allows me the opportunity to be in a constant strategic mind frame,” Gauthier says. “As for priorities, my governance processes within my portfolios will most often dictate my priorities as well as the ones driven directly by the CFO.”
Outside of work, Gauthier is a proud husband and father. He and his wife Nathalie have been married for more than 22 years. The two have three children—19-year-old daughter Cassandra and 14-year-old twins, Bianca and Mathieu. He often finds that his experiences at home have impacted the way he looks at his career.
“Being a collaborative and supportive husband as well as a dedicated and responsible father is, in my opinion, an important foundation of attributes to successfully become a credible, robust, and sustainable leader,” Gauthier says. “Trust and have high conviction in your values and beliefs and let them drive you. You’ll end up being passionate at what you do and constantly energized.”