The University of Ottawa and Telfer School of Management are thrilled to announce that Macky Tall, Telfer MBA alumnus, Chair of Carlyle’s Global Infrastructure Group, and Strategic Leadership Cabinet member, has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate at our 2023 Convocation ceremony. An honorary doctorate is a degree given to an individual by an academic institution in recognition of their significant achievements and contributions to a specific field, often beyond their traditional academic qualifications.
Tall’s commitment to innovation and advancing sustainable technologies aligns with Telfer’s values and vision to build a better Canada for all. Over the years, there have been many notable figures in the world of business that have been awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Ottawa such as the School’s namesake, Ian Telfer, the Honourable A. Anne McLellan, and a dragon from the Dragon’s Den on CBC, Wes Hall. We are thrilled to honour Macky and look back on his professional journey, his time at Telfer, and some words of wisdom he has shared for upcoming graduates.
A Passion for Green Infrastructure Investment
Born in the west African country of Mali, Macky moved to Canada at 17 years old to pursue a similar education path to that of his brother, who was studying in Ottawa, and his sister, who was attending school in Montreal, at the time of his decision. Tall had conflicting interests in both business and engineering, but ultimately chose to pursue his undergraduate degree in Economics at L’Université de Montréal. He then obtained his bachelor's degree in business administration from HEC Montréal before completing his MBA in French at the Telfer School of Management with a focus in Finance.
MBA acquired, Macky Tall became Head of Real Assets and Private Equity at the Caisse de dépôts et placement du Québec (CDPQ) and later, President and Chief Executive Officer at CDPQ Infra. During his time at CDPQ, Macky played a crucial role in overseeing the investment and development of major green infrastructure projects throughout the province of Quebec. Notably, spearheading one of the largest public transportation projects in the history of the greater Montreal Area: the Réseau express métropolitain (REM); a new 100% electric and automated light metro network. This work targeted the need to reduce the number of cars on the road and solo car travel in Montreal.
His roles at the CDPQ, and earlier management positions at Hydro-Québec and Novergaz, allowed Tall to combine his two interests: business and engineering. “Almost unconsciously, I never go over this second career path.” shares Macky. The many sustainable development projects he worked on enabled him to work closely with engineers with a certain ease that can be credited to his passion for the field. Tall would go on to play a key role in promoting projects that focused on responsible investing, renewable energy, technological advancements, and long-term value creation, an important element in the growth of CDPQ’s portfolio. His strong commitment to environmental responsibility makes Tall a clear embodiment of one of Telfer’s vision pillars: to create a greener Canada for all.
Personal and Professional Values
In 2022, Macky Tall was featured on an episode of Telfer’s The Keys to a Better Canada podcast. In this segment, he highlighted the importance of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in his professional life and in high governance. He attributes much of his success to the diverse teams he got to be a part of and encourages all business leaders to prioritize a variety of perspectives, cultural backgrounds, generations, and expertise when building strong teams. Taking a closer look at his sector, finance, Macky calls out the lack of women in leadership roles. The average business school has about a 50% female enrollment rate, but only 10% of the strategic leadership positions in finance are occupied by them. “Things are getting better but it is not enough,” he reflects. As Canada’s wealth lies in its diverse population, it’s time for it to be better represented in strategic roles.
Even when managing a huge global investment portfolio at The Carlyle Group, Macky found a way to give back to his community. Notably, he has occupied boards such as the Strategic Leadership Cabinet at the Telfer School of Management and the Board of Directors of the National Bank of Canada. He Co-Chair's Montréal’s Centre Jeunesse campaign which, in collaboration with his role as Co-President of the Centraide du Grand Montréal fundraising campaign, raised 12 million dollars in 2020. These funds were used to help children in difficult situations in which their development was jeopardized.
When asked how one can “give back,” Tall stresses it’s importance to him and shares that giving back can be done in multiple ways, but it all starts by recognizing one’s own privilege. Staying engaged with your alma -mater is one of them.
“I think it’s important to give back and stay connected to an institution which has been important for me. It is a privilege to be on Dean Stéphane Brutus’ Strategic Leadership Cabinet to contribute to a bright future for Telfer.” - Macky Tall
An impressive career, a large portfolio of successful projects and a passion to giving back, some may wonder what has kept Macky motivated all these years? To that, he notes that there are three key values that he has always lived by in his professional life: integrity, humility and ambition.
The French MBA at Telfer
Being a part of the largest French and English bilingual university in the world, the Telfer School of Management has created a unique MBA which gives participants access to a quality education and multiple experiential learning opportunities all in French. As a notable alumnus from Telfer’s French MBA program, Macky has taken the time to look back on his journey and how his time in the nation’s capital has influenced his professional journey.
When asked “Why the Telfer MBA?”, Tall shares: “Telfer had a very good reputation, it was a bilingual program giving me an opportunity to improve my English. My brother had attended the University of Ottawa, and I thought it was a beautiful campus, and my girlfriend Nancy who would become my wife was coming from the region.”
Macky Tall emphasizes the meaningful impact his French MBA had on his career trajectory: “After undergraduate degrees in economics and finance, I had a strong academic training but did not feel that I was job ready. I did get that sense and confidence after completing my MBA at Telfer. The program prepared me really well. I landed a great first job in Structured Project Finance in Toronto a few months after graduating.”
On top of preparing him properly for the realities of the job market, Macky graduated from the Telfer MBA program with some memorable experiences: “I had many important moments including some great partnerships with other students in the program. One I still remember well was attending this course from a Harvard professor who was temporarily teaching at Telfer on case studies. At the end of the course, there was a vote among the group of students which included some seasoned and successful executives, and they elected me as the most outstanding student in this demanding course. This was a surprise and a big boost to my self-confidence.”
Celebrating Macky Tall’s Contributions
An Honorary Doctorate recipient is described as someone who has made a lasting impact on society and embodies the academic institution’s values. It is no surprise why Macky Tall is receiving this prestigious award. Through driving innovative sustainable infrastructure investments across the country and abroad, to going beyond his professional accomplishments by getting involved in his community and advocating for more diverse leadership, Tall is an inspiration for all young graduates and future business leaders of Canada. We celebrate his exceptional accomplishments and welcome him into the esteemed community of uOttawa Honorary Doctorates.
“It is a real honor and privilege. I am very pleased and humbled to receive this recognition.” - Macky Tall