Interview with
Catherine Légaré - Lyne Maurier

Company
Academos
Year
2016

When technology & psychology meet in the schoolyard .

In the late 1990s, the Academos e-mentoring platform was nothing but Catherine Légaré’s doctoral project. Almost 20 years and some changes later, Academos has become a true educational guidance social network used by tens of thousands of young people every year.

That’s not all! Catherine and her general manager, Lyne Maurier, have other cards up their sleeves to help even more Quebecers find their way.

Enjoy our Q&A session with these two inspiring social leaders.

Q. Would you say that school and technology blend well nowadays?

A. Catherine Education is funny in many ways. Despite the fact that it’s a sector designed to prepare students for their future, it somehow remains very conservative, normed, reluctant to change and to implement innovative approaches on a large-scale basis. If you read the newspapers, you know that it’s also a sector that’s underfunded. As a result, Quebec schools are lagging behind when it comes to technology. However, education is a highly promising field, conducive to many innovations. In general, children are creative and ready to try just about anything. In short, the education system itself is quite
a paradox.

Lyne Nowadays, some young people equate entering a school with setting foot in the past! They lose access to everything they love: their tablet, their phone, and easy access to technology.

Q. How did you manage to make your way into this environment?

A. Catherine We forged our path and spoke to people in the education community. Initially, guidance counselors were protective of their field. So, before Academos could make itself known in this existing ecosystem, we had to get our innovative idea accepted and approved. I’d compare our situation to what happened in the taxi industry when Uber launched. The difference is that we chose to involve the key players and take their reality into account.

Now, everything’s cool. We feel a real wind of change. Schools understand that they must integrate technology, and we’re seen as a model in that regard. For the last two or three years, we’ve committed to redefining schools, writing reports, partnering with events, and so on.

Q. Why are you convinced that schools must reinvent themselves? 

A. Catherine It’s simple. If we don’t embrace the 21st century, including new technologies, and all kinds of essential skills for the future such as creativity, collaboration, and innovation, we won’t become a competitive society. Schools should be accountable when it comes to developing these skills in children. If other countries can pull it off, there’s no reason we can’t!

Q. Your digital platform was originally designed to help young people find a career path that resonated with their needs. Could it apply to other clienteles?

A. Lyne Of course! Academos could be applied in an adult context and used as a tool for new employees trying to place themselves within their work field, or for older employees considering a career change.

Catherine In fact, many believe that mentoring should be accessible to all. Every week, we meet people who don’t like their job or professionals who have high paying careers but decide to start from scratch and go back to school at age 40. Mentoring, coaching, and guidance are all
necessary in this context. And it’s been proven; it really does work! Through mentoring, we can reduce employee turnover rates, build stronger organizational cultures, and allow great businesses to grow and flourish.

Some companies are trying to offer these services but, for the most part, the processes are still extremely cumbersome. For me, the Academos technology platform has the potential to contribute to society, contribute to collective prosperity, and above all, contribute to the happiness of individuals at work. (Says the psychologist in me!)