From farm to Air Force to the Faculty of Management: Get to know Dean Sylvain Charlebois

- August 12, 2016

Dean of Management Sylvain Charlebois. (Nick Pearce photo)
Dean of Management Sylvain Charlebois. (Nick Pearce photo)

Sylvain Charlebois's path to Dalhousie was a journey of varied and notable achievements in fields ranging from farming to the military, from business to academia.

For Dr. Charlebois, the lessons learned through his diverse experiences have prepared him for his role as dean of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Management.

Dr. Charlebois became dean in July 2016 after serving as associate dean, research and graduate studies at the University of Guelph's College of Business and Economics. While in that position, he also served terms as acting dean of the College; associate dean, executive programs; and associate dean, academics. Dr. Charlebois was also the founder of the Food Institute at the University of Guelph.

His administrative career began in Saskatchewan, where he served as associate dean of the Faculty of Business at the Kenneth Levene Graduate School of Business (University of Regina) and as director of the Johnson-Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy (Regina Campus), a school affiliated with both the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina.

“As an administrator, you really see things differently,” says Dr. Charlebois. “You understand how institutions work and [their] culture.”

A unique background

Dr. Charlebois brings a unique perspective to Dalhousie’s culture. Born in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, he spent much of his youth working on dairy farms before joining the Royal Canadian Air Force. His military career brought him to the Maritimes for several summers of service.

“In the Maritimes, people are true to themselves," says Dr. Charlebois of the appeal of Dalhousie and Nova Scotia. "People are very straight with you, very honest. I can work with that any day. Here, I feel like I can be myself and people will be comfortable with that."

Following his military career, Dr. Charlebois started a real estate business, which he still co-owns, before being drawn back into the academic world. His background in farming and the discipline he honed in the Air Force aided him the completion of his Master of Business Administration from École des Sciences de la Gestion, UQAM; his Doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Sherbrooke; and numerous publications as a distinguished researcher focusing on food policy.

Working in a variety of fields and contexts has allowed Dr. Charlebois to see valuable connections in his leadership role in the Faculty of Management.

“We have four very distinct schools here,” he says. “The Rowe School of Business, the School of Information Management, the School of Public Administration and the School of Resource and Environmental Studies have different cultures and my job is to make sure they’re working together and understand each other. And that they’re interacting with Agriculture, Science, Medicine, Law, Computer Science and other faculties.

Shining a light on research

In addition to forging meaningful connections, Dr. Charlebois intends to raise the profile of the Faculty of Management and shine a spotlight on its research.

“We need to increase our profile as an institution, not only in the Maritimes but across the country and around the world. There’s lots of great research going on here and I want to become an ambassador and a voice for all the work being done in the Faculty.”

Dr. Charlebois believes that the Faculty’s responsibilities extend beyond students, researchers and the university to the broader community.

“If I can say that what we’ve done contributed to the economy in a meaningful way, we’ve done our job. That can mean creating jobs, supporting businesses or getting jobs and placements for our students.

“It’s not just about providing capacity, it’s about building capacity – that’s what the community is expecting of us."


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