Marc Albert is the perfect example of everything Telfer Nation stands for — a proud alumnus, Marc has been working at the School and giving back for more than 35 years.
Marc first attended uOttawa for his B.Sc.Soc. spécialisé Service social degree and graduated in 1988. While finishing his undergraduate program, Albert started working at the Faculty of Administration on a contract basis and became a full-time employee in 1990.
In 2000, he earned his Management Certification from the Faculty to better his understanding of business. Today, Marc Albert is the Manager of Administrative Services at the Telfer School of Management, working in the Governance, Operations, and HR department.
In an unwavering commitment to the School, he began giving back to students in 2002, loyally contributing every single month since then, and changing countless lives in the process. For this impactful giving as an alumnus, we are proud to honour Marc Albert with the Spirit of Giving Award this year. As Marc is heading into well-deserved retirement next year, we caught up with one of our longest-standing employees to learn more about his career and hear from the man who helped bring the Desmarais building to life.
Lifelong Dedication to Telfer
Originally from New Brunswick, Marc moved to Ontario with his family when he was in Grade 10. Coming from a Francophone family, uOttawa’s bilingualism was a big attraction when applying for undergraduate programs. “As a Francophone, it did play a part in my decision. I enjoy working 50/50 in French and English and communicating with support staff in my first language,” shares Marc in an interview.
Marc's entire career after graduation has been with Telfer, except for a brief 18-month procurement role at uOttawa. He's been with the institution since its Faculty of Administration days in the 1990s, through its transition to the School of Management in the early 2000s, and finally as Telfer since 2007. In 2000, he earned his Management certification. “My undergrad was in social sciences, and I got a double certificate in public policy and management,” says Marc, “When I started working at the School, I did courses to get my Management certificate because I thought it’d help me better understand how the business side of things work in administration and it was very helpful.”
Marc has seen the School evolve and expand over the years, from a small tight-knit family atmosphere in the 1990s to more business-like in recent years. Recently there’s been more of a push to bring back the warm collaborative environment. “All of us together give the best service we can to the professors and students and we are all working towards a common goal,” says Marc, “Instead of being just one cog in the wheel, you have a valued role to play.” Marc enjoys seeing new students and faculty every year and observing the change in the vocational environment.
When he started working at the University in 1987, the Faculty of Administration had been in the Vanier Hall for only three years. The 1984 move allowed the Faculty to launch new co-op options and additional graduate programs with 600 Master’s students in total. But that was only the beginning. “The School kept growing and at some point, we took on what was the Vanier library,” remembers Marc, “We grew so big that we needed our own building and I worked with a professor to have Desmarais constructed. Since then, we’ve become a more research-intensive school, the number of programs increased and now we have many offerings, from undergraduate to MBA, MHA, and now McSc, Ph.D., and EMBA.”
Proudest Career Achievement: Building Desmarais
We all know the impressive modern building that is Desmarais, but few know the back story, let alone the man who was there from the very first brick. Named in honour of Paul G. Desmarais (BCom ‘1950), a uOttawa alumnus and one of Canada’s most successful corporate leaders, the Desmarais building was finished in September 2007. The construction of the new learning facility was made possible with a $15 million donation by Paul Desmarais himself, whose father, wife, and many other family members also graduated from uOttawa!
Marc Albert worked with Michel Nedzela to bring the new building to life, from the first sketch and hiring of architects to the final ribbon-cutting ceremony. Nedzela was the Director of Accreditations at Telfer, who today is a retired professor and an important figure in Telfer’s Faculty. “We were the two primary people on the project, also working closely with the Dean and the administration,” adds Marc, “The building was built from scratch completely, and we worked with students and professors to find out what spaces they needed, it was a fun time.”
Albert and Nedzela worked hard to combine Dean Micheál Kelly’s vision for the building with information gleaned from countless consultations with stakeholder groups, including Telfer student clubs, board staff, and faculty, to ensure everybody had a say.
“We designed with growth in mind and it was a very collaborative process. It was important to us to make sure the student space was exactly what the students needed,” adds Marc. Telfer went with the Moriyama Teshima architecture firm out of Toronto, the same firm that designed the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. In a symbolic passing-the-torch turn of events, the father designed the War Museum and the son Jason Moriyama was the lead designer on Desmarais. “There are a lot of corridors, curves, and a lot of wood. We wanted to give it a warm feeling,” says Marc. This dedication to doing what’s best for the students is behind not only Desmarais’s thoughtful construction but Marc’s philosophy on giving back too.
Why Alumni Giving Back Matters
There are no grandiose statements and pomp in Marc Albert’s monthly giving over the last 20+ years — he simply does what he believes in. “I just thought we were doing a worthwhile project, working at the university it’s good to be able to give back to the place I studied at, to help students fulfill their dreams, their goals, and make their life a little easier,” says Marc, “I believe in what we’re doing and it’s easy in that sense, I never really saw this as just a job. It’s important for me to participate in giving back this way.”
Marc's monthly donations have supported students going on an exchange through the Michael Kelly fund, and also contribute to students' tuition payments. The sustained impact of monthly giving can’t be understated — added over time, the funds help reduce stress in students’ lives and allow them to focus on their studies without worrying about paying rent or buying groceries, especially in today’s economy. “It’s a good cause,” adds Marc, “I’m giving what I can to help.” And it’s a good point — whether you donate $10, $100 or $1000 every month, every little bit helps and makes a difference, especially over 20 years.
Telfer Nation Lessons
Throughout a whole career supporting students and faculty, Marc has learned a thing or two and lives by unshakable “old-school” principles. As a result, he is the cornerstone of the behind-the-scenes department of Governance, Operations, and HR. While not seeing students in person as much as before, Marc is a big reason why things run smoothly at Telfer, and it takes a special kind of determination to keep a machine as large as the School well-oiled. Knowing the institution inside and out for more than three decades, everyone at Telfer knows that Marc will either have the answer ready or will find someone who does.
Creating a warm work environment centered on trust and reliability over the years in his role as Manager of Administrative Services, Marc has a few lessons from the heart of the Telfer Nation to our future business leaders.
“Go to work, give good service, your word is your bond,” says Marc, “If you say something, do something. Be true and be honest. Treat your employer the way you want to be treated, be fair. Your word is your reputation. When you work somewhere for a long time, your reputation matters and people learn to trust you and know you’ve done a good job.” Marc's conviction in these simple principles of respect is more than evident in his dedicated service over the years.
More than Thirty-Five Years of Life and Work at uOttawa
Looking towards the future, Marc wants to stay involved with the school and continue his own at-home education. An advocate of lifelong learning, he reads a lot of non-fiction and history books in his spare time, also watching documentaries on a variety of topics. Retiring next year, he is thinking of taking up another hobby too. As Marc’s wife works at the MBA graduate office at Telfer, he is considering transitioning to semi-retirement, staying with the University in one capacity or another while his wife will continue working for a couple of years.
After helping countless students navigate their studies throughout the years, Marc has a few words of encouragement for the current Telfer students (and really, anyone who needs it): “Don’t limit yourself. Continue to learn, even after you graduate, learning is lifelong. Your potential is infinite in what you do.”
We are grateful to Marc Albert for his commitment to the School and are so proud to award him with the Spirit of Giving Award this year.