Michel Piché is Carleton’s new Vice-President (Finance and Administration) and he recently sat down with writer Maria McClintock for a Q & A interview.
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: I have been married for over 26 years and I have three children, two boys and a girl, and the youngest is 13 years old and the oldest is 21 (he is not going to Carleton because I wasn’t here when he went to university but I am looking to bring him here to do his graduate studies). They’re happy kids who are involved in sports and all kinds of different activities. My wife’s primary responsibility is looking after the family and she’s doing an excellent job to make sure we have a balanced lifestyle. It is a great partnership.
I was born in Montreal but moved to Ottawa in 1967, so essentially grew up in Ottawa. I studied in the French school system, and was part of the first cohort to attend the newly built and colorful Charlebois High School. My early career goals were to study and work in the hospitality industry, but after a couple of years realized that the accounting profession would provide a more predictable path. My career took me along an interesting course, alternating between public- and private-sector organizations, including a time working for Correctional Services Canada, where I met my wife – I keep saying we met while we were in jail because we were both working as auditors for Correctional Services.
My work took me back to Montreal (1988), and then to Gold River, B.C., Burlington, Haileybury, North Bay, and then back to Ottawa in 2006.
From the family perspective it has been quite a journey.
In terms of interests, we love travelling and to experience new cultures. As a family, we enjoy skiing and supporting our children’s sport activities. In terms of personal hobbies, I like to spend time working out, so you will often see me early in the morning in our Athletic facility. Between work and spending time supporting our children’s activities, there’s not a lot of time left. It’s a busy but rewarding family and work life.
Q: What do you like about your job?
A: Mostly the diversity of the work, issues and challenges. It’s incredible how much you have to deal with day to day, everything from elevators not working to the potential impact of the new provincial funding framework. It’s everything from the highly conceptual to the most practical. I find that interesting and very motivating. You never know what you are going to be dealing with.
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
A: I would say trying to keep track and co-ordinating all the various meetings, both internal and external. I am still trying to figure out how many committees I am on, and which ones I am responsible for. I expect that once I go through a full cycle of meetings, planning and budgeting, I will be in a very good position to help bring Carleton to a new level of performance. It is a challenging but interesting journey.
Q: What is something about you that people would find surprising?
A: I am not particularly keen on shopping. People that invite me to join them in this activity quickly find out that I am not the best person to be with for that purpose. I am not a materialistic person and what I want and need are very basic. To that end, online shopping is a godsend.
Q: What is your favourite food?
A: I love Asian food because of its diversity and because it’s generally good for you. I remember the place where I had the best food experience, when my wife and I travelled to Thailand. It was just amazing how many different types of food were available. When we travel, our number one priority is to experience the local food offerings from different cultures. I can very much relate to CNN’s Anthony Bourdain’s “Parts Unknown.”
Q: Your pet peeve?
A: Pushy people. I’m very laid back and I like to take things as they go and I don’t like people who try and push themselves on everybody else.
Q: Your guilty pleasure?
A: Probably reading a good book under a palm tree. When we go on holidays in the Caribbean, I like to stock up on reading material. I can sit in the hot sun, under a palm tree and read books all day long (with breaks to eat and work out).
Q: Who is the person you admire most? Why?
A: Nelson Mandela and the reason for that is because he’s the one person who, despite everything that was thrown at him over the years, still managed to maintain his humanity. He found a way to inspire others. For someone to be able to do that is just short of sainthood.
Q: What is at the top of your bucket list?
A: Seeing my kids successful and happy. Once that happens my wife and I will have done our job.
Q: What is the most surprising thing that you have discovered on campus?
A: The complexity of our tunnel system.
Q: Your personal motto?
A: Listening and keeping an open mind. It’s not always easy to do, but will ensure much more productive relationships.
Q: What is your screen saver?
A: I don’t know. It keeps changing on me.