Émilie Dussault
Country Head – Canada at Technicolor

November 29, 2021 - One on One

One on one with Émilie Dussault, Country Head – Canada at Technicolor, a leader and manager who does not shy away from any challenge and who advocates management based on well established processes and over-communication.

1. Since you’ve been in management, what have you learned about yourself?  

That managing for results with precise objectives to attain has always been fundamental for me and most importantly, that you can’t do it alone! Managing projects from start to finish means setting milestones, and I find developing strategy very stimulating. Moreover, it’s the exchange and dialogue with colleagues that helps me develop a vision. It’s so satisfying to get to a stage and to know that we’re all aligned with the same final goal.  

When I arrived at Technicolor, I was tasked with developing our MPC visual effects studio.  The goal was to set up a team to complete a few film projects. But finally, in only 5 years, we went from 180 to 1200 people! You bet I had to develop my “intrapreneur” side pretty fast! Having studied cinema helped me understand that there’s always a starting point and that the finish line is when the idea hits the big screen. And the best thing of it all is being able to celebrate that as a team.  

2. What inspires and moves you every day?  

Currently, we’re in the midst of a post-pandemic challenge. We need to continue reinventing ourselves, without necessarily throwing the baby out with the bath water.  

It’s been about 18 months since we’ve all been working from home, thinking it was the best solution for everyone. However, we forgot how motivating, educational, entertaining, and conducive it is working together face to face, especially when it comes to innovation. That’s something quite hard to reproduce remotely. The challenge becomes maintaining your creativity while keeping the flexibility that we’ve all become so used to. Maybe the 9 to 5 model is being called into question, but we have to maintain our points of contact, the “social glue” that protects human relationships. In the end, it will all be at the advantage of creativity and innovation. 

3. What’s been the most exciting innovation at your organization during Covid? 

The simple fact of having successfully delivered our projects while respecting our processes.  Also, continuing to grow our teams, bringing them up to speed quickly from home. Almost half of our staff is based outside of Canada. During lockdown it was a huge logistical challenge to bring them together virtually. A number of initiatives were put into place to help keep our activities running virtually, whether it was delivering grocery baskets or providing the moral and operational support to all staff members every day by the departments.

4. What prepared you in your career for a leadership role in an international business that’s played such a central role in the history of film?  

The examples set by the bosses I’ve had! I’ve had the privilege of having savvy managers as mentors. One of them taught me how to always bring the best out of people and to help them excel. Sometimes you think you’ve found the ideal person, but no one is 100% perfect. Faults always remain weaknesses…you have to focus on each person’s strengths. Another boss of mine shared his sense of rigour and planning, and how to always try to foresee risk and complications while keeping a global perspective. For instance, an employee will always see things from up close through his or her own vision or mission, which makes it hard to reach a consensus. As a leader, that means it’s necessary to have a 360-degree outlook and to share it with the teams.

5. How do you continue to grow and develop as a leader?  

Personally, I think it’s important to stay on top of what’s going on. By reading magazines and newspapers, by talking to other managers, by confronting the different realities of my colleagues or by getting involved on boards of directors, I get exposed to different management styles and strategies with people from different backgrounds. I also adapt to the different age groups and cultures within the company. In my opinion, you need to be able to question one’s self when faced with other realities. As a manager, I don’t know everything. I often say to new employees, “It’s not my company, it’s our company”. You’re only as strong as those around you. The key is that they buy into the vision of the company and, most importantly, that they play a role in it.

6. What advice would you give a manager that wants to make a positive impact?  

To be prepared. I strongly believe in work and in planning in order to develop objectives and accomplish them. You have to put in the effort. And to have a positive impact, you need the support of your colleagues. That support stems from listening to others and from the space they’ve been given to express themselves. I would say that communication, even over-communication, is the secret.   

7. What would you like to leave behind as Country Head – Canada? 

I’d like to leave behind a company where processes and work methods empower every member of the organization to let their creativity run free. In other words, when you have a routine, you can focus on the activities that deliver added value. Guidance and structure give you the freedom to create and innovate later. When the foundations are there, you can easily manage chaos because you know your own barometer. That’s all the more important when you’re delivering creative work where, both in the office and at the client’s, you’re working with creatives. 

8. Who are your unsung heroes? 

I’ve had the good fortune to have extraordinary women in my family who’ve paved the way for me! My great great aunt Justine Lacoste de Gaspé Beaubien founded Ste-Justine Hospital and had to overcome the many challenges facing pioneers and entrepreneurs, starting with earning the right to open and manage her own bank account without her husband’s signature! It was only by picketing on the steps of parliament that she finally succeeded. There was also my grandmother, Marcelle Hémond, one of the first four women admitted to the Quebec Bar in 1942. I come from a family that shared its opinions with me along with a determination that lets me completely invest myself in whatever I do. As they say: “Our career comes from our roots.” As a leader, we set the tone and inspire others by setting an example. 

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