Eric Brat, MBA
Director of the Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives

Holder of an MBA from Columbia University in New York and a graduate of the Solvay Business School in Brussels, Eric Brat is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives at HEC Montréal. He is a CFA and member of the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute. During his career, he has worked for Credit Suisse Group, Oliver Wyman and Accenture. From 2002 to 2016, Eric Brat was a senior partner at the Boston Consulting Group, initially in the Paris office, then at their Montreal office, which he founded in 2012. He was responsible for the strategic and organizational transformation of insurance companies. He was also a professor at Paris-Dauphine program at the Centre des Hautes Études d’Assurances (CHEA). He speaks French, English and Dutch.

Benoît Tremblay, Ph.D.
Honorary Professor, HEC Montréal

Benoît Tremblay is Honorary Professor at HEC Montréal, where he has taught since 1976. He holds an MBA from HEC Montréal and a Doctorate from the École Pratique des Hautes Études, Paris. One of the founders of the Study Centre for the Management of Co-operatives in 1975, he has been active as a researcher for many years and has served on the board of different cooperative organisations. In 1984, he was appointed Deputy Minister responsible for cooperative development in Quebec. He has been active in public life as a Member of the City of Montreal Council and a Member of the Executive Committee of the Montreal Urban Community and Finance and Economic Development Commission’s President. In 1988, he was elected Member of the Canadian Federal Parliament and nominated as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Industry, Science and Technology. Returning to HEC Montréal in 1997, he focused his research on two main topics: the manager’s craft and the development of financial services cooperatives in the world. From 2001 to 2010, he was Director of the Desjardins Centre for Studies in Management of Financial Services Cooperatives. His research has led to the creation of the International Observatory on Financial Services Cooperatives (newly named the Cooperatives Gateway), which includes a Database on Institutions and a Virtual Library, as well as a management simulation called Str@tégiCA, developed for Crédit Agricole in partnership with the Crédit Agricole Mutuelle Training Institute (IFCAM). He speaks French and English.

Inmaculada Buendía Martínez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Castilla-La Mancha

Inmaculada Buendía Martínez holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration from the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain). She is also a specialist in cooperative management and an associate professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain. Author of numerous scientific articles, books, and other publications, she is a member of various networks and international research projects. Her international expertise both in America and in Europe allowed her to collaborate directly with several research centres in Brazil, Canada, Colombia and Ireland, specializing in the field of cooperatives. Her current interests focus on the contribution of cooperatives in local development, the policies for financial inclusion, the role of financial cooperatives in the international arena and corporate social responsibility in the banking industry. She speaks Spanish, English, French and Portuguese.

Marie-Josée Lapointe, MBA, Eng., Adm.A.
Administrative Director

Holder of a Bachelors of Mechanical Engineering from McGill University (Canada) and an MBA from HEC Montréal, Marie-Josée coordinates the activities of the Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives and the Cooperatives Gateway (previously named International Observatory of Cooperatives). She developed the Cooperatives Gateway tool and designed the management simulation Str@tégiCA used by Crédit Agricole. Before joining HEC Montréal, Marie-Josée was a departmental head for the multinational Procter & Gamble and an associate at the strategy consulting firm Oliver Wyman. Highly involved in her community at school level, she is also a member of the Order of Engineers of Quebec and the Order of Chartered Administrators of Quebec. She speaks French and English.

Nabila Ouchene, M.Sc.
Research Officer I

Nabila Ouchene holds a Masters in International Business from HEC Montréal, specializing in marketing. Throughout her studies, she has worked in a variety of fields: in a marketing agency, in research and development at HEC Montréal, as well as at Desjardins Financial Institution. Her thesis was on the international financial crisis of cooperative banks in 2008. Her research was based on a case study which compared Desjardins Group with Credit Agricole Group. At the Institute, Nabila’s main mandate is to conduct studies on innovation in cooperatives, with a focus on international benchmarking of innovation practices in financial and mutual cooperatives. With her international journey, Nabila is passionate about foreign politics and cultures. She speaks French, English and Arabic.

Geneviève Handfield, M.S.I.
Librarian, data processing

Geneviève holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Université Laval, as well as a certificate in Spanish and a DESS in Territorial Planning and Local Development from UQAM. Most recently, Geneviève completed a Master’s degree in information sciences at the Université de Montréal, and this last diploma marked for her a career reorientation to become a librarian, after more than 10 years in the field of socially-minded organizations and sustainable development. In addition to her position at the Alphonse and Dorimène Desjardins International Institute for Cooperatives, Geneviève also works as a librarian for the Commission scolaire de Laval. She speaks French, English and Spanish.

Nara Meli, M.A.
Communications Officer

Nara has a B.A. in Economics from Tufts University and an M.A. in Political Science/International Relations from New York University. Nara worked for 8 years in Washington, D.C., as a consultant for the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, and took part in numerous missions in the Latin America and Caribbean region. In Montreal, Nara has worked in e-commerce and advertising as a copywriter, translator and proofreader. Nara is passionate about communications and development issues. She is fluent in English, French and Italian, is proficient in Spanish and enjoys practicing her Portuñol.

Ibtissam Benbrahim, B.B.A.
Research Assistant

Holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Finance at HEC Montréal, Ibtissam is in the process of obtaining a Master’s degree in Applied Financial Economics. Ibtissam has worked in various fields: auditing and accounting at Ernst and Young and Cascades, research at the Finance and IT department at HEC Montréal, and a brokerage firm at National Bank Financial.
Her areas of expertise include financial analysis, risk management and corporate governance. Ibtissam is passionate about research, transmission and lifelong learning. At the Institute, Ibtissam’s main mandate is to build a qualitative database of digital resource materials on cooperatives and mutuals. She speaks French, English and Arabic.

Carolina Hidalgo Lopez, B.A.
Research Assistant

Passionate about data analysis, Carolina holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics, a graduate degree in Probability and Statistics, and a Business Analytics Certificate. She is a candidate for the Master’s degree course in Management – Business Intelligence at HEC Montréal. Her studies and professional experience as an economist in the research and consolidation of the quarterly GDP for the national accounts, as a statistician of risk models for the banking sector and as a statistician/consultant for SAS, have allowed her to acquire an excellent ability to interpret data and be at the cutting edge of the digital era. She speaks French, English and Spanish

Alexandre Richer, D.E.C.
Documentation Technician

Alexandre holds a D.E.C. from Collège Maisonneuve and is a library technician. He is largely dedicated to the Cooperatives Gateway, where he is in charge of cataloguing and filing digitized documents. He has worked in document management and archiving within the city of Montreal, and the Ministry of Education and Higher Education. He is passionate about contemporary history and cultural heritage. He speaks French and English.

Marc Belleau
Administrative Assistant

A graduate of the Montréal Conservatory of Music, Marc has worked in opera for 20 years. In 2008, he decided to make a career change and began studying at HEC Montréal in order to obtain a graduate diploma in management of cultural organizations. He also works part time for the IDEOS Pole (Development Initiative of Social Enterprises) and is the author of a research document on the evolution of public funding in the Quebec dance field from 2004 to 2008, on behalf of the Research Group on Non-profit Organizations. In addition to his work as an artist and administrative assistant, Marc teaches classical singing. He speaks French and English.


Rym Ayadi, Ph.D.
Honorary Visiting Professor at the CASS Business School, City University of London

Rym Ayadi holds an Ph.D. from in Economics and Finance from the University of Paris-Dauphine. She is a Research Director at the Euro-Mediterranean University of Slovenia, Founding President of the Euro-Mediterranean Economists Association and Scientific Director of the Euro-Mediterranean Network for Economic Studies. Rym Ayadi’s fields of expertise include financial institutions (with special focus on the stakeholder versus shareholder value models) and markets, financial regulation and supervision. She also has an interest in socio-economic and financial market developments.

Sandra Challita, Ph.D.
Research Professor, ESDES, Lyon Catholic University

Sandra Challita is a research professor at ESDES in Lyon. She is also an associate researcher at the Montpellier research laboratory and at the “Labex entreprendre”. Holder of a Ph. D. in Management Sciences from the University of Montpellier with specialization in Finance, Sandra Challita also holds a Master’s degree in Finance (104) from Paris Dauphine University and a degree in Management from Saint Joseph University of Beirut. Her dissertation takes a comparative approach to the strategies and performance of cooperatives and investor-owned companies in different fields. Sandra Challita has presented her work at international academic conferences and has published and is in the process of publishing scientific articles in specialized journals. His current research focuses on the financial performance and risk of different types of financial institutions. She is also part of the Euro-Mediterranean network of economic studies, where she contributes to research in finance and inclusion.

Michel Keoula, Ph.D.
Data Analyst, LACED, HEC Montréal

Michel Keoula holds a Ph.D. in Administration from HEC Montréal. In his thesis, he explored topics in natural resources economics and carbon markets finance, using the tools of game theory and real options theory. He also graduated from the Statistical School of Abidjan as a Statistician-Economist Engineer (ENSEA). Michel Keoula is currently a data analyst at LACED, the Computing and Data Mining Laboratory at HEC Montréal. From 2002 to 2006, he served at the Credit Department of Togo’s Main Branch of the Central Bank of West African States. In particular, he was in charge of the Balance Sheet Data Office of non-financial firms. He has also served as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at Bielefeld University in Germany, with a focus on innovation economics, industrial organization theory and numerical methods in economics. He has also held positions at UNICEF and Statistics Canada. He speaks French and English.

Ndiouma Ndour, Ph.D.
Professor, Université Assane Seck Ziguinchor

Ndiouma Ndour is an Associate Professor of Management Science at the University of Ziguinchor. Since 2012, he has been working there as an associate researcher at the Research Laboratory for Economics and Social Sciences. He is also an Associate Researcher at the Laboratory of Finance-Control-Strategy-Organization (FOCS) of the Faculty of Economics and Management (FASEG) of the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar (Senegal) since 2006, as well as at the Center of efficiency and performance analysis in economics and management (CAEPEM) at the University of Perpignan (France), since 2009. His research interests are in microfinance and socially responsible investment.

Élias Rizkallah, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Quebec in Montreal

Holding a Ph.D. in Psychology from Laval University, Élias Rizkallah is Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM). He is Director of Centre d’analyse de texte par ordinateur (ATO), Associate Member of the Centre for research on social innovations (CRISES), Associate Researcher at the Canada Research Chair on Globalization, Citizenship and Democracy and the UQAM, and is working in the Research Group for Structured Documents (GRDS) at the University of Montreal. His interests include the study of methods (qualitative, quantitative and mixed) employed in human and social science research, social and cultural representations, identity dynamics, social responsibility and governance of financial cooperatives, textual analysis of speech (computer-assisted) and the theory of intertextual semantics for the design of information objects. Élias Rizkallah has been involved for many years in the development of the Cooperatives Gateway (previously named International Observatory of Cooperatives) of the Institute. He speaks Arabic, French and English.

Thuy Seran, Ph.D.
Lecturer and Member of MRM Laboratory, University of Montpellier

Holder of a Ph.D. in Management Sciences specializing in Management Control from the University of Montpellier, Thuy Seran is also a graduate of HEC Paris. After working for six years as an auditor at Ernst & Young, she is currently Associate Professor and Head of the higher university degree in Accounting and Management at the University of Montpellier. Her main area of research focuses on cooperative banks. Based on qualitative methodology, these studies incorporate a triangulation of data. She plays the lead role in the analysis of the cooperative bank network as a meta-organization. She also focuses on the governance aspect of banking information systems and the role of boundary objects in the organizational control system. With a team from the University of Montpellier, she also works on the theme of developing alliance strategies related to the hybrid form of these organizations. Her work highlights the specific types of management and key methods used in reducing internal tensions over competitive strategy within hybrid networks, like the French cooperative banks. These studies also cover the management of organizational innovation around virtual teams established in these banking networks.