Faculty in the Spotlight with Aurore Burietz

With more than 700 professors, including 175 permanent professors-researchers, IÉSEG offers to its students a high-quality learning experience, based on 4 key elements: an active, interdisciplinary learning process, focused on the acquisition of competencies, offered through customized curricula.

Each month, “Faculty in the spotlight” invites you to meet one of the School’s professors who presents their vision of teaching, their methods for transmitting their expertise and passion to students and shares their best memories and stories at IÉSEG.

This month, we are meeting Aurore Burietz, Professor of Finance at IÉSEG.

Can you tell us more about your background?

I studied at IÉSEG from 2005 to 2010, and at the time I had opted for a classic curriculum, with a research paper and professional internships. But once I was in a company, I realized that what I really liked was the academic research, the way of thinking, the reflection that one can have behind certain concepts, and I didn’t feel at ease in a company. So, I decided to go back to school by doing a PhD in economics that I obtained at the University of Picardie in 2015.

During my PhD, and through perseverance, I managed to get an experience as a visiting professor at Columbia University in New York. In addition to teaching, I was very interested in the research side of things. At the end of my PhD, I asked myself: what should I do now? Go back to the corporate world or continue in academia? I chose academia for two main reasons: from a research point of view, for the freedom of thinking and the time allocated to the development of a research project. From a teaching point of view, I have always enjoyed transmitting what I have learned. What a satisfaction when a person understands the idea you are explaining to them! For the record, I once helped a classmate with an exam that I completely failed, while he got 14/20. Disappointed with my own performance, I was nevertheless delighted to see him succeed because it proved that he had understood the concept and had succeeded in using and applying it.

After my PhD, I did a one and a half year post-doc at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB), as part of the Marie Sklodowska Curie action linked to the European Horizon Europe program. After that, I applied to become a professor-researcher and I came back to my first love: IÉSEG.

What is your area of expertise/teaching?

Finance and more precisely the banking sector from all perspectives. I started by studying the determinants of credit granting, then I developed several related papers linked to monetary policy, financial crises, the human side of the banking profession, the impact of trust, banking relationships… Since my studies at IÉSEG, I have always been passionate about finance and the consequences that human behavior can have on it. I particularly love the banking sector because I find it exciting and atypical compared to other sectors.

I teach a large majority of my courses on financial intermediaries and banks in particular. I also teach courses to help students complete a research paper. This really combines my two passions. Having been a student at IÉSEG myself before, I can easily guess what students are looking for, what motivates them to do a research paper. With Jérémie Bertrand, also a finance professor and academic director of the program in apprenticeship “Financial Institutions: Risk, Compliance and Data Analytics”, I have set up new pedagogical tools to make this as concrete as possible for students who do not necessarily want to become researchers. We try to emphasize the scientific reasoning side: knowing why it is important to write a research paper even if you want to work in a company afterwards and not do research.

So, I teach the research course in the Grande École program, the Master in Financial Institutions: Risk, Compliance and Data Analytics and the Master in Banking, Capital Markets & Financial Technology with the Banking and Financial Intermediaries course. Finally, I also give courses on financial markets in Executive Education.

Could you sum up your subject in a few words?

The banking course represents two thirds of my teaching load. My goal in this course is to help students understand what a bank is, even though it may seem simple at first. What is a bank, how does it work? What are its activities? What is its purpose? Banks are often criticized. Nevertheless, I always try to remind my students why banks exist, how they are useful and what they are used for. The bank is an institution that faces many risks and bears many risks for others. The risk aspect is therefore not negligible in this sector and I try to emphasize this aspect in my courses.

How has your discipline evolved in recent years?

I joined IÉSEG as a professor in 2016. Over the years, my classes have become much more interactive. Unlike “traditional” classical courses I involve my students a lot in class. I have become more and more comfortable with teaching and now I seek discussion, debate and interaction with my students. I give them my slides before the class so that they can look at the theory and then we can have an interesting exchange. I would say that expertise and experience help me to be more comfortable now. I have also diversified the teaching tools I use. More classical at the beginning, I try to develop this interaction through the implementation of a Business Game allowing students to manage a fictitious bank in teams; this gives them the opportunity to make decisions by themselves by applying what they have learned from the course.

Why did you choose IÉSEG?

I feel at home here… I studied here, I also worked here in the administrative department when I was a student, and now I teach here. The human dimension is very important at IÉSEG, I feel at ease and in a profession like mine it is all the more interesting because it gives a certain freedom and it allows to generate creativity. The School allows you to grow; I have always felt supported by in everything I have undertaken. Today, as a professor, we have an ear to listen to us when we have projects, as well as the means and solutions to realize them. Whether as a student or as a professor, I find that it is a School that gives the basis to boost one’s abilities and contribute to the world of tomorrow. IÉSEG has this capacity to adapt and to have a good vision of what the company will become.

Speaking of the School’s Vision “Empowering Changemakers for a Better Society”, how do you integrate it into your courses?

First of all, there is the notion of “being able” to do things, and that comes through knowledge. My students need to know in order to change things. So I make sure they understand what I am teaching them. To become a changemaker, you need that solid foundation. When I was a student, during an internship, an employer told me that what he particularly appreciated in IÉSEG students was their profile, even more than their knowledge: we try to understand things and when things are explained to us, we understand them quickly because we have learned to learn. Knowing how to use knowledge is essential in order to move things forward. Therefore, in my classes, I make sure that everyone understands the concepts I am talking about before I move on to the next thing.

What do you like most about being a professor?

I like to transmit my knowledge through exchanges and interactions, that’s what drives me. I usually ask my students to take notes on paper and not on their computers to make sure they are attentive and open to dialogue. When students ask me a question, I find it interesting because it allows me to explore other aspects that I had not yet explored and to enrich the content of my course. Since I tutor apprentice students, it also allows me to interact with companies, to keep abreast of what they are looking for, what interests them. Being a professor at IÉSEG is to be in a constant exchange, there is a give and take: I teach and I learn at the same time. There is also the human dimension which is very present in the School and which is very important to me.

According to your students, what are your strengths?

They appreciate my perseverance: I do everything I can to make sure they all understand, without exception. Hence the idea of flipped classrooms, allowing them to learn the basic concepts on their own and then allowing me to focus on the more technical points that are more difficult to understand. What my students also like is my expertise and my passion for the subject: I know how to answer questions, elaborate on them, discuss them… My open-mindedness is also appreciated because I am open to all questions, all points of view… Finally, I am also very available for my students to provide them with feedback.

Do you have a special memory at the School?

When I arrived as a professor at IÉSEG, I was entrusted with a thesis student who had experienced a traumatic event in her personal life while working on her thesis. So she associated the thesis period with that event and so it was complicated for her to get into it. It was quite a tricky supervision because she had great difficulty working even though she was one of the brightest students at the School. However, the supervision of this thesis was a positive and constructive experience overall and I was proud to have been able to support her and help her succeed in her thesis until the defense.

On another note, I went on maternity leave for a while and during this period, I was delighted to see that some students had written to me to check up on me, highlighting the human side I mentioned earlier and the bond that you can develop with your students.