Executive Voices in Sustainability 2017:

Executive Voices in Sustainability: Guillaume Courtemanche


What brought you to Yale?

I was looking at different executive education offerings as the necessity of honing my management skills while continuing my professional responsibilities surfaced. Indeed, I struggled with some managerial decisions during a downturn in my industry which is closely related to oil price. I knew that Yale SOM was focused on a global experience, which is aligned with my mindset and interest, and had good reviews for its Leadership Development Program. I got to know more about the EMBA program and specifically, the Sustainability focus. I saw how the curriculum would apply directly to my current responsibilities and future goals. During my interview day, I interacted with great people and felt at home which is why I chose to travel from Tennessee twice a month for the next 22 months as I knew the experience would be worth it.

How have you impacted sustainable practices in your career?

I impacted sustainability practices in three main ways. First and foremost, Health, Safety and Environment. I have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace to the employees and to ensure that engineering projects and operations activities respect environmental regulations. Second, the reason why the plant I work at is still operational during a low level of activity is because of the numerous efficiency improvements we have made over the past years. We considerably reduced our cost structure, increased quality metrics, decreased steel consumption and improved the average utilization efficiency of our lines from 50% to over 80%. Finally, I am very much customer-focused. My organization adapts swiftly to change of customers’ demand. That helps us capture market and stay competitive. I personally have to constantly adapt our inspection systems, re-engineer them and find innovative ways to meet different requirements. This is my way to keep steel pipe manufacturing relevant in North America in a sustainable manner.

What challenges do you see for sustainability in your industry?

Industrial companies may not adapt fast enough to change and international trade pressure. For instance, a subsidiary of GE for which I interned, moved to Ireland to reduce cost and remain competitive. Also, my current industry, steel pipe manufacturing, faced headwinds at the end of 2014 with the decline of oil price. My company suspended operations of several plants across North America, so did our competitors. This economic shock was difficult to predict as investments and production were at record high just a few months ago. Cyclical industries within which many manufacturing companies operate have to be lean and efficient to react fast to these changes and have to have financial flexibility. From my standpoint, this is mainly accomplished by fostering innovations and encouraging a culture of operational excellence.

Tell us one thing about yourself that might surprise your classmates.

My wife used to be my customer! I moved from Canada to Arkansas to be with her and we got married in India. Our wedding made the headlines in the local newspapers and we were celebrities for a day!

Current Position

Firm: Tenaris
Position: NDT Operations Manager
Duration: 5 years
Responsibility: Lead various process improvement initiatives related to productivity, quality, cost reduction and safety, with a focus on Non-Destructive testing (NDT)*.

*NDT: Non-Destructive Testing (Ultrasonic, Electromagnetic, Radiographic and Visual inspections)

Contact Information

Email: guillaume.courtemanche@yale.edu
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/guillaumecourtemanche