Faces of IMI: Kevin Yousie

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April 12, 2023

Kevin Yousie is an Associate Professor (Strategy & General Management) in the teaching stream at the University of Toronto. He is also Chair of the university’s annual IMI Big Data and Artificial Intelligence Competition as well as a member of the IMIx executive development faculty team. His contributions have been recognized with the MMPA Teaching Award as well as with the University of Toronto’s Institute for Management & Innovation, Faculty Member of the Year Award.  Through his consulting work Professor Yousie has assisted senior executives and Boards of Directors for more than twenty years. His client list has been global in scope and includes more than seventy organizations including Fortune 500 companies, large international financial institutions, government agencies, and others. Earlier in his career Professor Yousie worked in Corporate & Investment Banking and International Banking, in Canada, the United States, and across Asia.  He has been an accredited corporate director (ICD.D) since 2005 and has more than twenty years of board experience. In addition to his ICD.D professional director’s designation, Professor Yousie obtained his Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation and he is a Fellow of the Institute of Canadian Bankers (FICB). He is a recipient of the Ivey Distinguished Service Award. 

You have 20 years of board experience. What are some of the attributes or factors that make boards, and by extension companies, truly successful?  

Years ago, I served on the Editorial Review Board of the Business Quarterly Magazine and I remember Professors Donald Thain and David Leighton at Ivey writing vociferously about the poor state of Board governance at that time.   Governance has improved significantly since then which is good because Boards play a critical role in all organizations, not just for-profit corporations. 

In terms of your specific question, I would argue that the collective mix of skills, knowledge and behaviours of the people serving on the Board are the most important. Everything else follows from that. Included in this is the disposition of individual board members.  To function well, Boards need to create an environment where each board member can be comfortable and perform at his or her best. 

What's the most impactful experience you've had teaching IMI students over the years?

Thank you - this is a thought-provoking question. I have had many wonderful experiences teaching students. They have influenced and helped shape who I am as a person and as a teacher.  In thinking about it, I am unable to identify one or two specific things as there are too many.  Each class, just like each student in the class, is unique and creates its own impactful experience, in its own way.  They each leave an indelible mark.

You have an interest in emerging technologies and potential impact for organizations and strategy. What do you think is the next intersection of technology and business?

We are currently in the Fourth Industrial Revolution characterised by the Internet of Things.  How we work and how we live is changing profoundly, just as it did during the previous industrial revolutions, only much more so this time and in many different ways concurrently.  Technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, blockchain and biotechnology are all advancing at a rapid rate.  The question is can we keep up?  In my view, the largest challenge will be managing the human dimension as these technologies continue to evolve and influence every part of our daily lives.  This is not just and issue for business, but for governments, organizations of all kinds, and in fact every society on Earth.  Given the nature of these technologies, no one will be left untouched.     

You've been teaching the new Certificate in Effective Healthcare Management in the IMIx Executive Education Program. What are you most excited about in this course?

While I thoroughly enjoy teaching all of my many courses at the University of Toronto, the MasterCard Foundation-funded Certificate in Effective Healthcare Management is unique with respect to its purpose/mission.  For example, the five-week Healthcare Strategy and Critical Thinking program I just taught had fifty-three managers and healthcare practitioners from Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Each of these healthcare professionals touches many African lives.  If this program can help participants perform better, then the healthcare outcomes across those countries should be further enhanced as well.  Having served on healthcare related Boards of Directors for more than fifteen years, I have a particular personal affinity for this sector and was very pleased to be invited to teach in this program.

You've had the opportunity to travel during your career. Tell us some of the most fascinating places you've visited. 

I grew up in what was a relatively small town at the time, Stratford, Ontario.  I always knew there was a larger world out there that I wanted to experience and when I got the chance, I seized it.  Earlier in my career I had an opportunity to work in the international arm of the Corporate and Investment Banking Group at TD Bank.  I was responsible for the bank’s financial institutions and trade finance business across twenty-seven counties in Asia, Australasia, and Indian Sub-Continent region.  I travelled a lot with that position, so much so that I was advised by the TD’s travel company that I was the most frequent traveler within TD Bank.  Subsequently when I set up Crosswater Partners, my consulting company, I was fortunate to have outstanding client assignments in Europe, the UK, the United States, across the Caribbean and Asia.  I still love airports and travel however I am not as keen on spending as much time away from home these days.  In my view, every country can be fascinating and special if you do your advance research, are prepared to take a risk, and make yourself open to adventure.  I have accumulated many stories and wonderful travel-related memories that I am grateful for.