Special Section: Metro Learning Curve

Seasoned instructor wants his students ready to compete


patricia d’Cunha/for metro toronto

Centennial College professor Victor Sousa brings his professional experience and tremendous work ethic to his business management classes.

A team is only as good as its coach. This traditional sports analogy also rings true in a college or university classroom. In this case, the coach happens to be Victor Sousa, professor at Centennial College’s business management program for the past three years.

”I make the students understand that we are a team led by a coach,” explains Sousa, who studied at the RCC Institute of Technology, and received his MBA from Queen’s University. ”They are the players and must be able to compete in today’s environment.”

One way to do that is to provide them with the necessary tools. ”I make sure that my lectures are full of case studies where the concepts are balanced with business practice,” he says.

He also uses traditional and modern applications in the classroom, such as the blackboard for case studies and PowerPoint for concepts and theory. The former ”gives me the freedom to be creative and illustrate concepts,” Sousa adds.

Sousa is the ideal person to teach them about the real world. After immigrating to Canada from Portugal 35 years ago, he worked in factories and in the 1970s started a band to help him pay for his education. ”My desire to learn combined with the support systems that were in place at the time, were instrumental in making me a better person,” he says.

His diverse professional background — from corporate experience and consulting work in areas of VoIP technology, wireless communications and Web design, to volunteering at the Kensington Health Centre as its board’s vice-chair, and his appointment as a globalization advisor to the Portuguese government — has catapulted his teaching style to new heights.

Before Centennial, Sousa taught marketing at Ryerson University, where he received the Continuing Education Students’ Association of Ryerson (CESAR) award for excellence in teaching.

”Good professors spark enthusiasm in their students and are adept at knowledge transfer,” Sousa says. ”(He or she) is available to help them when they need it and is considered a mentor.” On the other hand, ”a bad professor can derail the student by acting as a barrier instead of a facilitator to learning.”

But mutual respect between the professor and the students is needed. ”I make the students understand that I respect them and demand their respect in return; this means I expect them to come to class and not study by proxy,” he says.

Sousa encourages students to strive for the end zone and once there, to push themselves further.

”I want them to jump higher than they thought possible,” he stresses. ”The important thing is to motivate them so they have their inner desire to accept my criticism and work to improve themselves.”

When the competition is tough, says Sousa, ”some will play and some will sit on the bench … if they aspire to win, I will help them get there through hard practice.”

With so many students gracing his classes he loves ”to see students succeed and get jobs,” he reveals.

”This gives me great inner satisfaction.”