During my undergraduate and graduate studies at École Polytechnique de Montréal I had the chance to partake in six research missions around the world including Switzerland, China, Taiwan, California, India, and France. These research missions were part of my research work in strategy and innovation management with Prof. Roger Miller and the MINE (Managing Innovation in the New Economy) project. The MINE project was Canada’s largest management research project with over $6 million in financing from the Canadian SSHRC (Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council) and a number of industry partners.
France Mission

The mission in France was my last research mission with the MINE project; it covered visits and interviews with CIOs and CTOs of some of the leading French organizations and multinationals, all in Paris. These interviews were organized with the cooperation of the CIGREF (Club Informatique des Grandes Entreprises Françaises); a prestigious club of CIOs (both Chief Information and Innovation Officers) from the largest French organizations.

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The resulting case studies became a central part of my PhD thesis and helped with the study of the “Innovative enterprise IT systems” game of innovation; one of the seven “Games of Innovation”.

The case studies developed in France included the following organizations:

  • Thales; a leading provider of defense information systems globally
  • Euro Disney; one of the largest theme parks and tour operators in the World 
  • Essilor; the world’s largest manufacturer of ophthalmic lenses
  • Danone; one of the largest food companies in the world
  • Accor; the largest hospitality and hotel company in Europe
  • Bouygues; an international leader in construction and infrastructure 

The case studies covered innovative enterprise systems co-developed with key IT service and software providers such as SAP, Accenture and Capgemini.

India Mission

In India, my research focused on the largest and most innovative IT service providers in two tech/IT hubs in the country: Bangalore and Chennai (previously Madras). The visits and interviews in Bangalore and Chennai enabled me to build several key case studies used in my PhD thesis. These case studies were also used by other researchers in the MINE project to develop their PhD theses and to publish around the “Games of Innovation” concept.

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The visits/interviews in Bangalore and Chennai included the following:

  • Infosys; global leader in IT services with state-of-the art campus in Bangalore
  • TCS (Tata Consultancy Services); the largest IT services company in the world
  • Polaris (acquired by Virtusa Corporation in 2016)
  • Wipro; global leader in IT services based in Bangalore
  • ITC Infotech; IT services provider headquartered in Bengaluru
  • iGATE; US IT services leader with major operations in India founded by two Indian-born entrepreneurs (acquired by Capgemini in 2015)

Beyond the traditional BPO (Business Process Outsourcing) services, the companies studied in India also co-innovated with some of their key clients in various sectors including banking, energy and manufacturing.

Canada Mission

Several of the key interviews and case studies for my PhD thesis were conducted in Canada, mainly Montreal and Ottawa. These interviews (with CIOs and CTOs and other innovation and information/IT leaders) covered both the IT service/software provider side and the buyer side.

These Canadian case studies included the following IT service/software providers:

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  • Dassault Systemes; a French developer of CAD/CAM and PLM software with a key office in Montreal and major Canadian accounts such as Hydro Quebec
  • IBM; a major PLM system integrator and developer in Canada 
  • Fujitsu; a major Japanese systems integrator with key projects in Canada 
  • Capgemini; a leading French IT service provider and major integrator of CRM and ERP platforms in Quebec and Canada.

From the IT service/software buyer’s side, my research covered major Canadian organizations including the following:

  • Bombardier; a Canadian business jet manufacturer and global aeronautic leader
  • Pratt & Whitney Canada; a global leader in aircraft engine manufacturing with key R&D and manufacturing facilities in Montreal
  • Hydro Quebec; one of Canada’s largest utilities and a major producer of hydroelectric power in the Province of Quebec with operations in the Northeast US
  • Desjardins; one of Canada’s largest banks
California Mission

The mission in California (mostly in Silicon Valley) was focused on providers of high-tech R&D and engineering software tools; one of the seven games of innovation studied in the MINE project and the subject of my Master’s thesis. Case studies were developed through the interviews conducted with CIOs (Chief Innovation Officers), CTOs (Chief Technology Officers) and heads of R&D at these companies.

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These high-tech software players included the following:

  • Autodesk in San Francisco; world leading engineering and architectural design software and developer of AutoCAD
  • SAP in Palo Alto; world leading provider of enterprise software and business solutions founded by former IBM employees
  • Cadence in San Jose; leading provider of electronics/microchip design software
  • Invitrogen in Carlsbad; a leading provider of research tools to the life science industry
  • ImpactXoft in San Jose; a developer of product design and development software that integrates with the Dassault Systemes PLM (Product Lifecycle Management)
  • Agile in San Jose; a provider of PLM solutions
  • Accelrys in San Diego; world leader in computational science and software 

The case studies I built in California were instrumental in the development of the theory behind the “Games of Innovation” concept and were used in several publications by the MINE project; including a PhD thesis supported by the MINE project.

China Mission

In China we visited innovative organizations in several cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Changsha, Shenzhen, Xi’an, Wenzhou, and Hong Kong.

In Beijing we visited the China Federation of Industrial Economics and met with several Government representatives working in the field of innovation.

In Shanghai we visited Huaye Iron and Steel Group and other key industrial players. We also had the chance to visit the Port of Shanghai; the world’s largest port.

In Changsha we visited the following organizations:

  • Jiuzhitang, one of the oldest traditional Chinese medicine institutions (and state enterprise) in China; established in 1650
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  • Broad Air Conditioning; a global leader in air conditioning systems with an impressive campus comprising an environment museum in the shape of a pyramid, a heliport as well as state-of-the-art control rooms for global operations
  • Luvalley; a high-tech development zone in Changsha
  • Zoomlion; a global leader in construction machinery, mainly cranes

We also had the honor to meet with the mayor of Changsha during our visit.

In Shenzhen, our visits included FIYTA, a leading Chinese designer and maker of high-end watches, as well as several textile companies..

In Xi’an we visited two pharmaceutical companies, HISUN and Ginwa, as well as the Xi’an Yajian International Golf Club.

In Wenzhou, we visited CHINT, a global leader in smart and renewable energy solutions. In Hong Kong, we visited Adaltis, a global leader in medical equipment and diagnosis equipement specialized in developing markets.

Taiwan Mission

The mission in Taiwan focused on the largest Taiwanese contract manufacturers in the high-tech industry as well as key R&D and innovation institutions.

The mission included the following visits:

  • Premier Image; a leading contract manufacturing of digital cameras as well as camera components and lenses for the top smartphone brands globally
  • VIA Technologies;
  • Foxconn; a major Taiwanese contract manufacturer, the world’s largest provider of electronics manufacturing services, and the maker of the iPhone for Apple.
  • BenQ; one of the largest consumer electronics companies in the world
  • Optimax; a global leader in liquid crystal display technology
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  • ATEN; a provider of connected solutions, hardware and software
  • The NCHC (National Center for High-performance Computing) and the EcoGrid lab providing environmental monitoring of the Fu-Shan National Park
  • National Science Council; one of Taiwan’s key research institutions
  • National Taiwan University; the largest and most comprehensive university in Taiwan
Switzerland Mission

The Switzerland mission was the yearly project organized by Poly-Monde, a selective engineering student initiative that picks about 20 top students from across the school’s departments to participate in an industrial research mission in a different country every year. Our role included fund raising for the project (all of our costs were covered by sponsors and donors), choosing and planning the industrial visits, developing case studies, and preparing and presenting the final report with our key learnings to the school’s community and sponsors/donors.

The group was divided into three main teams covering three key industries of the Swiss economy: 1) biotech, 2) the precision industry, and 3) industrial automation.

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I led the biotech team and organized several visits that included the following organizations:

  • Novartis in Basel
  • Roche in Basel
  • Serono in Geneva
  • Synthes-Stratec in Mezzovico 

Our team also participated in other common visits to major Swiss institutions and organizations including the following:

  • CERN (Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire) in Geneva 
  • The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Geneva
  • The WTO (World Trade Organization) in Geneva
  • UBS bank in Zurich 
  • École Polytechnique de Lausanne in Lausanne
  • Gruyère cheese factory in Gruyere
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