On a personal level, how are you coping with the confinement measures?
Paradoxically, we have had to leave our comfort zone yet we're still at home! We have had to reconcile our professional lives with our family and personal obligations.
I am very much committed to my work life so, with the exception of a few days on holiday, I've never really spent this much time with my wife and daughters. It has been an opportunity to get to know them, to spend time chatting with them and I have to say that they're really very nice indeed! :) No, seriously, we all have to establish new points of reference, because our professional life can't be our sole focus: we also need to be involved in family life, respecting each other' s time constraints and encouraging each other, so as to be able to stay the course whilst waiting for the end of this confinement period.
I am fortunate to have relatively older children who are independent, but I can't help but think of those with younger children, or whose personal situation is more complicated, and even those who are alone. In these cases, too, everyone's points of reference break down, resulting in an unstable equilibrium, a source of stress and tension, the extent of which needs to be taken into account.
How are things on a professional level?
Our jobs are fuelled by our interpersonal relationships, and the social aspect is therefore fundamental. We are especially aware of this when we are deprived of it because, for us, it has been the norm for many years.
However, I am enjoying teleworking, as it allows for longer periods of concentration which enable us to finish what we've started; this is not always possible when we're on the School premises, as there are more demands on our time. Meetings are much more efficient and do not last as long. We are learning to operate in a different context, learning to be flexible and responsive. Once the situation has abated, we will have to learn from this experience, as many good practices are now emerging that could enable us to have more impact, and result in better performance in our future daily professional lives.
How are you continuing to manage from afar during this period of confinement?
In less than 10 days we created a new school, shaking up our existing rules, our habits, our convictions. A remarkable feat that would be a great subject for a case study.
As Academic Dean, I am very fortunate to be able to rely on such wonderful individuals and teams. Quickly established as a centre for disseminating information and decision-making, the COVID-19 Crisis Unit has played a key role in coordinating our efforts and priorities. For the vision that we have collectively developed ensuring the organisational and pedagogical continuity of Excelia Group, for the safeguarding of our employees' and students' health, and for ensuring that contact is maintained on a case-by-case basis, I say "bravo!" Students are no longer worried about their lessons: an 85% success rate so far, thanks to the efforts of everyone involved. Our next challenge is to find a happy ending for all our students looking for a work-study opportunity, an internship or a Humacité© project. This is a very anxiety-provoking aspect, particularly for students who are nearing the end of their studies, an element that the Programme Teams are all working on!
Is there anything that you have found particularly remarkable during this period?
The kindness that everyone has shown to one another. The DNA of Excelia Group is based on the human element. A plethora of actions, initiatives and exemplary professional behaviour not only keep this DNA alive, but also strengthen it considerably. We are more than ever what we claim to be. I am in contact with my many counterparts in other major business schools and universities and I can assure you that what we have been able to achieve in terms of organisation and adaptability is not the case in all the other institutions with which I communicate!
We are dealing with a situation where the current level of uncertainty and the unpredictability as regards the future have never been greater. Major business schools often talk about adaptability, leaving one's comfort zone, versatility, and so on. Let's take the opportunity offered by this radical change to reinvent, reshape and improve the communities and environments that surround us.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
We need to stand together, we need to continue to be caring and supportive. Staying focussed and united, strong in our values (the ones I could perceive even as an outsider to Excelia and which convinced me to join the School almost 18 months ago... and believe me, I wasn't misled, far from it) will enable us to learn as many lessons as possible from the crisis so that we can all move forward together.