A Love Affair with Music
21 June 2019
Before becoming the prolific businesswoman she is today, Fiera Capital’s executive vice-president and strategic advisor, Monique F. Leroux, was playing scales and developing her exceptional listening skills. Here’s a two-part discussion with the former president and CEO of Desjardins Group about giving up her musical career, but never giving up music in her personal life.
If she digs deep into her memory, Monique F. Leroux remembers being lulled by music. By her father’s music first. Every evening he would put on the finest sounds of the opera or pieces from great pianists. “I come from a very humble family, but we were rich culturally,” says Monique F. Leroux. My father had a very complete collection of books and records. So I’ve been listening to the full repertoire of opera and classical piano since I was young.”
At 6 years old, little Monique began formally studying piano, competing in Canadian music contests, and studying at the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique de Montréal. “Beyond the emotions music makes feel, playing the piano has given me a lot of discipline, self-control, stress management, and the pleasure of being able to play more advanced songs.”
In total, she has completed fifteen years of structured piano studies before moving on to studying accounting and management. She loved human contact so much, she chose the path that allowed her to interact with people everyday.
Despite her change of direction, Monique F. Leroux continued to teach piano for a few years and play recreationally, for friends or family. “During the last few years, I have had the opportunity to accompany a choir of Desjardins employees and executives to raise funds for foundations. I don’t play like I did when I was 20, but I can still deliver certain pieces and I maintain the ability to read music. I take pleasure in learning a score and getting through it.”
Her favourites include Chopin, Bach and Beethoven. Lately, she has also enrolled at Grégory, the academy by Grégory Charles, out of curiosity for his method of learning, taught by his mother, which involves 10 minutes of practice every day.
The music lover
The music that occupies the greatest place in her life is the music she listens to, that navigates through styles and eras. “I listen to it regularly. The wonderful thing about the internet is having access to radio stations from around the world, some of which broadcast live music.”
Beyond the atmosphere and the background it creates, music brings a moment of emotion, a dimension of interest, she explains. “Depending on the selection I make, it will stimulate me, encourage conversation or be disruptive. I realized that not everyone is like me, very sensitive to sounds, whether ambient or musical. It affects my state of mind.”
Should business leaders take advantage of this universal language of emotions? “Arts in general bring a complementary meaning to life, they make us reflect, help us take a step back, to see something different. Business leaders or entrepreneurs are often very focused on taking action, realizing their dreams. Arts help them take a break and bounce back. I’ve regularly been to concerts when I should have been dealing with complex situations. I’d ask myself: am I wasting my time? But, listening allowed me to relax, change my mindset, think differently, and then I could solve the problem and bounce back.”
This explains why Monique F. Leroux is very involved in the arts, especially music, and her dedication to Orford Musique, the OSM, the Conservatoire, and the Orchestre métropolitain.
“For me, a life without music would be very sad. And to have access to it, people need to play it, teach it, and allow young people to develop their listening skills, and their personal discipline. I see, for example, many schools that focus on sports, and music, which gives young people the opportunity to play in small orchestras. It’s very beautiful and it helps shape them.”
“Being a conductor is the perfect leadership activity,” says Monique F. Leroux. You are not doing what the musicians are doing, instead you are leading them to express themselves through a project, an action, a dream that unites you.”
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