Custom programs: A stepping-stone to business success

Diane Nyisztor shares how McGill Executive Institute helped put her company’s departments on the same page

When Diane Nyisztor started at Quebec cable giant Cogeco in 2014 as Senior VP, Corporate Human Resources, she quickly realized that the company’s silo approach to working wasn’t making the most of business opportunities. Diane needed a way to bring the units together to view Cogeco and its success as a whole.

“One of my first projects was to get all our executives together to talk about their leadership teams,” says Diane. “We realized that there were a lot of common needs being identified when it came to development opportunities, and we said, ‘Let’s try to get a program that collectively addresses the needs of all business units.’”

“The one thing I can say that really differentiated McGill from other universities is that they’ve done this before, and it shows.”

Diane then began the task of looking for a program that would meet the company’s unique needs. She and Cogeco CEO Louis Audet agreed that a university-based program would be the most beneficial for the company. But which one?

“We decided to hold the program at home in Montreal and met with all local universities that offer Leadership Development programs,” says Diane. “After sitting with each and seeing who’s capable of what, we clearly knew our choice would be McGill.”

Diane and her staff sat with the McGill Executive Institute team to pinpoint Cogeco’s core needs and determine the best course of action. Together, the group selected key points to pursue in the program: financial acumen, strategy, and people management. The goal was to be as specific to Cogeco’s reality as possible. They needed something more personalized than just a generic “Leadership” program.

“In putting the program together, McGill would give us concrete options and ask us our opinion about it, and then we’d proceed with discussions,” says Diane. “Other universities were more abstract, and you would sit there thinking, ‘Well, you’re the experts. Can you work with me?’ McGill just offered a level of comfort other universities didn’t.”

“I’ve had great teachers in my executive MBA, but the professors at McGill have just truly been amazing.”

The result was a highly successful program that has since been presented to a second group of Cogeco VPs. “Everyone, even people with MBAs or Executive MBAs, found it very meaningful and very helpful in the Cogeco environment,” says Diane. “It also gave them the opportunity to work with executives in other business units, which they really didn’t do before. With certain business units, you can really see how they now look differently at strategy and how to bring concepts they learned in the course back to their work.”

McGill Executive Institute faculty and staff also left a lasting impression on participants. “Everyone was just so delighted with the professors, and people say, ‘I’ve had great teachers in my executive MBA, but the professors at McGill have just truly been amazing.’ It makes a world of difference.”

Diane’s advice for other companies? A custom program from the McGill Executive Institute is an investment that really pays off. “I’ve never had to put together executive training on my own from scratch,” she says. “And I thought, ‘Diane, either you’re going to flop miserably or it’s going to be something that you’ll be remembered for doing at Cogeco.’”

“Working with the team at McGill was seamless. Everything worked out well. Nothing was forgotten.”


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