Marie-France Turcotte: Making the Forest Productive
A summer forestry job as an undergraduate sparked Marie-France Turcotte’s interest in sustainable business.
“I was working in a clearcutting site,” she recalled. “And it was obvious that it was not the most efficient way to manage forests. It was very good for some species, like mosquitoes and raspberries. But for humans, it was not a nice place — and not the most productive environment.
“I realized things could be done better economically. Things needed to be changed: how things were thought about and done.”
That experience was the “trigger for a long long journey,” said Marie-France. She completed a Master’s degree in communication about social and environmental issues, and went on to study organizations. “More decades added,” she said, “as I understood all the institutional barriers to making things more intelligently.”
Today, she is professor at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and the director of NBS’s Francophone office, Réseau entreprise et développement durable (REDD).
Setting Direction for REDD
As REDD Director, Marie-France thinks strategically about how the organization can best serve managers and researchers who seek to bring about sustainability. REDD has focused particularly on the needs of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), with an SME Council and related activities.
Sustainability in SMEs matters, Marie-France explained, because, in all countries, they represent more than 95% of business and more than 85% of production.
Acting on Co-creation
“Co-creation” is a central goal at NBS/REDD. It means recognizing that managers and researchers both have essential expertise in sustainability. When they work together, “groundbreaking, new knowledge can be co-created that neither researchers nor managers can singularly create” (Sharma et al., 2016).
Marie-France’s work represents such co-creation. She’s part of NBS’s Innovation Project, which brings together universities and companies to help unlock new value. She is also writing a book on transdisciplinarity, which brings researchers from multiple disciplines together with managers or other practitioners.
Living a Good Life
When asked about her leisure time preferences, Marie-France mentions traveling, napping, swimming, and dancing. What kind of dancing? “Any kind in the not serious category – just moving my body.” And her preferred dinner companion? “A great chef, cooking local food. I would enjoy and tell my admiration to that chef.”