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05 19 2023

Meet Remi Tremblay, Acting Executive Officer at the NCI Academy

Remi Tremblay was recently awarded the NATO Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) for his years of dedication to service improvements at the NCI Academy.

Tremblay's first exposure to NATO was at the NATO School of Oberammergau in 2014, where he leveraged 25 years of experience in training and education gained from the Canadian Armed Forces. During this time, Tremblay supported the delivery of training for the Alliance. In 2018, he began working as the Head of Training Management at the NATO Communications and Information Systems School, the former NCI Academy. As the school was preparing to move from Latina, Italy to Oeiras, Portugal, Tremblay provided leadership and continuity enabling the NCI Academy to achieve its initial operating capability. After two years of hard work, Tremblay's efforts and key leadership role led the Academy into achieving accreditation as a NATO Education and Training Facility in July 2022.

Meet Remi Tremblay, Acting Executive Officer at the NCI Academy

We sat with Tremblay to talk about his job, the NCI Academy's future prospects and his leadership skills.

How do you ensure that the Academy holds up to deliver the highest standards of education and training in the ever-changing technological sphere?

Ensuring the ongoing quality and relevance of the training provided by the Academy to NATO is a team sport. We believe it is crucial to understand how our students, instructors and staff feel about the training and education we provide, to ensure it remains at the degree of excellence we strive to deliver.

To continuously improve our training and education solutions, we have an automated data collection software that allows our students to provide immediate feedback to the Academy during and after their course. This data allows us to understand the satisfaction levels across our course portfolio. We also carry out multiple activities to ensure that the training we offer remains both relevant and effective, such as formal and informal classroom observation during the courses, annual evaluations of instructional staff, in person debriefings with the students, and more. Last year, we also implemented an external evaluation programme to gather feedback from commanders, line managers, supervisors and students to assess whether the training received was properly delivered and prepared them for the requirements of their positions.

How do you instil motivation in your team?

Throughout my career, I have had the opportunity to work with and lead several different teams at the Agency. This has allowed me to guide and teach them, but I have also learned from them just as much. As a result, I try to avoid micromanagement and instead set realistic goals and expectations. This helps my team stay motivated as they see that the work they are doing is making a difference for our students, customers and NATO. I encourage them to look for ways to improve our training across multiple dimensions and I support them in implementing the changes, systems and processes that we need to improve for future students.

The one thing that also seems to bring motivation across all situations is when I bring in treats baked by my wife. She is an excellent cook and has a chocolate brownie recipe that even people who do not like chocolate cannot resist!

What are the Academy's priorities looking into the future?

The NCI Academy is guided by our recently endorsed strategy, which is aligned with that of the Agency's. Continuing to provide excellence in learning is one of our first priorities. We are investing in using agile processes, advanced methodologies, and leading edge technologies to ensure that the Academy keeps being recognised as a strategic asset for the Alliance. The Academy is currently in high demand, and including all these features helps us better meet our customers' needs and requests. We also intend to bring in additional instructors, instructional designers, subject matter experts, course developers and support staff so that we can effectively and efficiently respond to the growing demand.

Additionally, we want to establish the Academy as a Hub for Cyberspace Learning. The NCI Academy is already the "go-to" institution for dynamic learning experiences on NATO Cyberspace domains, but we are working to reinforce our position in the future. We are also working with capability developers and project managers to ensure that all new NATO capabilities and projects consider "training by design". We want training to be viewed as a continuum of activities designed to support workplace performance, rather than single events that may or may not translate to increased performance on the job.

What was your first thought when you were told you were being awarded with a NATO MSM?

Being awarded an MSM came as a total surprise to me because the work that we do and the results that we achieve are part of a team effort. I am very humbled to be recognised with such a high honour for my work and my leadership of the team. Leading the Academy towards its unconditional accreditation as a NATO Education and Training Facility required an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement, and we have worked very hard to ensure that the Academy continues to deliver high quality and relevant training solutions for NATO.

How do you manage to keep a positive attitude during difficult times, and not give up?

In more challenging moments, I am able to stay positive by focusing on what I can control. I try to influence only what I can, and accept that there are some issues I am simply not able to fix. I also ensure that I take time to physically separate myself from the work environment that may be causing stress, and in my case, I am lucky to be able to go for a walk along the ocean when it is sunny in Oeiras. This helps me reset, gives me the energy to keep working and reminds me to appreciate working in an amazing environment with such great colleagues, while helping to make a difference for NATO.