François Brouard doesn’t say “no” very often. In fact, he would describe himself as one who has a high proclivity for saying “yes” or “oui” (he is bilingual after all)—namely when it comes to topics within his research program. As a result, Brouard has an extremely robust and diverse program that, interestingly as an Accounting professor and taxation expert, has Brouard researching well-beyond the accounting world. It’s safe to say Brouard is a true trailblazer and visionary—certainly in the accounting world because he sees his research as expansive rather than restrictive. His research taps into an eclectic mix of topics including research in the governance of charities and nonprofits; strategic intelligence of small- to mid-size enterprises; the recruitment and life trajectories of accountants—to the business of comedy! Brouard attributes his agreeable nature to two factors: his love of learning as well as his love of working with his students and colleagues. He also admits that this attribute can be a bit of conundrum:“I am interested in everything, but this is both a good thing and a bad thing—good because I love what I do, bad, because I’m very busy!”

Professor Francois Brouard, Sprott School of Business

Accounting Professor Dr. François Brouard, Sprott School of Business

But then, as a tenured Full Professor and a member of the Sprott team for last 17 years, Brouard knows how to manage his time and his projects well. Brouard’s research is also very relevant to today’s business challenges and he sees the importance of incorporating important social and economic issues into his research. Sometimes it’s a PhD student who will come to him with an interest in a particular area of research that will direct his effort on a specific topic. Just over a decade ago, for example, a potential PhD student approached him to work on a project that spurred him to establish and direct the first ever Sprott Centre for Social Enterprises (SCSE)/Centre Sprott pour les Entreprises Sociales (CSES)!

“The aim of the research center is to create a vibrant and active hub that brings together faculty interested in research on social issues so that prospective and interested graduate-level students can see who and what research is happening at Sprott.”

And a decade later, fueled by a similar goal, Brouard helped create the Professional Accounting Research Group (PARG). What’s fantastic about this unique forum is that Brouard recognized the importance of connecting what’s happening in accounting research and academia with what’s happening in the accounting industry. And, with the financial support of Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) Ontario, the program is bridging this gap and really helping potential PhD and MSc students develop research ideas, have a forum to discuss and share what is going on in both academia and in practice, as well as providing accounting practitioners an insight into new discoveries in accounting research.

“It’s really a win-win-win; students, faculty, and industry all greatly benefit from this synergistic interaction.”

All the while, Brouard remains extremely busy delving into his own research and mentoring his graduate students—whose work includes accountability in health sector organizations; the scientific research and experimental development; tax literacy; governance of hospital foundations; as well as public-private partnerships. Much of Brouard’s research circles around small organizations as he believes it’s this area that needs support in terms of research development:“Small organizations need business strategies that help them detect changes in what’s happening around them, such as technology, tax changes, politics, social movements, market changes, the environment—even locally with other businesses, so I believe it’s important to help manage knowledge in this area.”

LAUGH in neon lights against a brick wallBrouard’s visionary approach to his research allows him to cross-pollinate his work with faculty in other business disciplines, but more than this, Brouard, perhaps, likes a good laugh, as for the last five years, he’s been exploring the “business of comedy.” Specifically, Brouard is taking a unique perspective on the comedy industry in Quebec. His research aims to elucidate successful business strategies for comedians. “Comedians are entrepreneurs; they need to manage their business and their careers to ensure they are successful and to potentially become famous.” Brouard is looking at this from many angles, including the factors that distinguish “A” listed comedians from those less successful, such as commonality in script content, to venue location and production—teasing out the factors that allow a comedian to rise to stardom. But it’s not always a laughing matter. Brouard is further delving into how female comedians fare in the industry—a very sensitive and important issue in entertainment and business alike. To date, males dominate the comedy world, but as female representation grows, Brouard is interested in comparing female and male perceptions of women in this industry. He’s an Accountant in comedy; not such an obvious connection, but a testament to his openness to new ideas and areas of research, Brouard is blazing trails in this area—being one of the first academics to study the business of comedy. He’s even been invited to judge comedy activities, and while sitting on panels, he’s often asked: “Accounting Professor? Are you lost?”

“What is unique and special about what I am looking at is that I am an accountant studying an area outside of what is deemed “normal.” But when you look at my trajectories, I’ve researched many different topics that are not directly about accounting, instead they are a divergent and unique way of looking at this business area.”

Professor Francois Brouard, Sprott School of Business in front of a staircase with his arms crossed

Brouard, indeed, breathes a wonderful blend of fresh air into the world of accounting and his love of the discipline runs deep. For as long as Brouard can remember, he wanted to be an accountant—just like his uncle. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration (Accountancy stream), and gaining some opportunities while working at Deloitte, he realized a passion for taxation and concurrent to his work with tax clients, he began to teach, mentor, and coach accounting students in preparation for the Chartered Accountant exam. And, over the years, he’s completed the In-Depth Tax Course run by the profession, earned his MSc (Accounting), worked with all universities in Quebec to develop a ubiquitous professional education program so that graduate-level courses in accounting were all equivalent across the province and universities. But it was his love of teaching that lured him to earn his Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) and stay in academia and ultimately find a home at Sprott. With years of experience and an impressive list of major contributions and successes in academia and beyond, it’s not surprising that in 2012, Brouard was honoured as a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA) and later as Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA)—a distinction given to members who “Have rendered exceptional service to the profession. Becoming a Fellow is the highest honour that can be bestowed on a CPA.”

Brouard’s love of life—and his willingness to take on whatever comes his way—is a gift highly valued at the Sprott School. And, it’s mutual; Brouard absolutely loves his place at the university—teaching, mentoring, facilitating, researching, and partnering with students and faculty alike. He volunteers on the Board of Directors at the Hôpital Montfort and at the Shenkman Arts Centers (stage crew). And, if you’re in for a good laugh; listen out for him in the Sprott hallways—you may hear his infectious laugh!

Tuesday, September 8, 2020 in , , ,
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