After 20 years in academia, Beverly Pasian wants to break into the c-suite. A seasoned project management pro, she wants to drive research to identify public needs and generate social impact as a chief research officer.
As a current student on SKEMA Business School’s EMBA program, she’s well placed to do so. The French “Grande école” is a breeding ground for female business leaders and gives all its students the opportunity to pivot their careers and broaden their appeal to employers.
Beverly has extensive project management experience. She’s a practitioner, researcher, teacher and published author on the subject; she’s managed and researched the principles of e-learning projects across the US, Canada, China, Australia; and her past experience includes a stint working for the Canadian federal government.
Yet still, she was attracted by the SKEMA’s focus on project management in an international context, joining up with her former PhD instructor, now director of the SKEMA EMBA, Carole Daniel. So far, her EMBA experience has taken her to China, where company visits included a trip to the Shanghai distribution center of French sporting goods retailer Decathlon. She graduates in 2017.
Why did you decide to pursue an EMBA?
I want to increase my appeal to organizations outside of “the academy.”
I knew from the time I was 21 that I would do a PhD, and since then my collaborations, projects and publications have certainly deepened my skills as a researcher, but I don’t want to stay in a purely academic environment for the rest of my career.
An EMBA gives me managerial knowledge, leadership skills and an international network that I can use to broaden my appeal outside of universities or pure research environments.
Why did you choose to study at SKEMA in particular?
There are a lot of schools out there that offer masters-level training on basic project management skills, but SKEMA’s EMBA goes beyond that. The subjects, partner schools and faculty all complement each other to bring a richness and international perspective to the universal project management skill-set.
What stood out from your study trip to China?
I saw things that you might consider completely inappropriate in a Western company, but that are absolutely necessary in China!
The working conditions for example. In one case, many of the company’s staff were actually living in the factory with everything you would find in your own home, including a garden next to the parking spaces! It was explained to us that the workers typically were long distances from their families and, through not having a Shanghai residence, were able to send money back home.
Such moments jar you out of your comfort zone and encourage you to think about doing things differently in your own organization, particularly concerning managerial support of their staff’s personal, family and life demands.
How else have you profited from your EMBA experience so far?
What I didn’t expect was the creative spark and energy I feel working with other students.
It’s easy after a doctorate to lull yourself into thinking you know more than others in business settings; but that simply isn’t true. You always need to develop your skills. In my case, my listening and team skills are definitely on the upswing!
What are your career plans for the future?
I am a public servant at heart, and I’d like to work either for the public service or in an organization focusing on public priorities.
There are always enormous priorities that need attention in or outside of government; climate change, internet governance, and the changing demands for and delivery of education to name a few. Managers need evidence to justify their choices in satisfying those public needs, and I’d like to work in a capacity directing research that uncovers and shares that evidence.
I think we’ll see in larger corporations or organizations the emergence of a new ‘C-level’ role dedicated to research – something I’m calling the Chief Research Officer. I’d certainly like to move in that direction!