July 6, 2019 - One on One
One-on-one with François Dumontier, CEO of Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix and Octane Racing Group the biggest sport and tourism event in Canada.
1. What factors do you feel led you to become CEO of Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix and Octane Racing Group?
This year has marked my 25th year at the Grand Prix. It has not always been easy! We lost the Grand Prix in 2009 and we almost lost it before that, in various crises contexts. I can say that I definitely put in the hard work throughout the years and I think that what helped me at the Grand Prix, and in my career more generally, is my availability. I never say “no”. Young, when I was asked to work on weekends and holidays, I always said “yes”. That’s how I climbed the ladder at Parc Jean-Drapeau and Formula 1. It gave me credibility and people knew they could trust me. In life, we often hear that there are “good timings” and some level of luck, but these are things we can also provoke. I owe a lot to Normand Legault, who was my mentor and from whom I learned so much. He trusted and supported me and I still apply principles that he passed on to me at the time.
2. What does professional success mean to you?
At the end of the day, if I am satisfied with what was accomplished, I’m happy, professionally. In terms of group success, I find that the media and economic benefits of the Canadian GP strike notably for the city and the country. But for me, a high form of success comes from peer recognition. Last October, I was inducted into the Canadian Motorsport Hall – the same year as Jacques Villeneuve. In our sport and our industry, it’s a great honor and it only happens once!
3. What have you learned about yourself since becoming a leader?
Two essential qualities I did not know I owned! Patience and resilience. Through the ups and downs – with Bernie Ecclestone, it has not always been easy! – I discovered I was quite resilient. This is what led us to this enviable position today. We are successful and here for a long time. We in fact have a contract until 2029 and we are recognized globally as a reference in organizing our sport. One thing is for sure, if you are not strong as an entrepreneur, at the Grand Prix as in any other company, things can get very difficult. Let’s say there have been shorter nights than others in the past!
4. What motivates and inspires you each day?
In life, you have to love what you do. A lot of people don’t like what they do. Basically, when you get up, you have to feel motivated because you like what you do. You have to surround yourself with people who are competent, with whom you get along well with whom you have fun at work, because in our non-traditional type of business, there are peak periods during which we spend more time with our colleagues than our own families. You have to have fun and feel inspired by your colleagues. I am fortunate enough to say I deeply love my work family.
5. What legacy would you like to leave as CEO?
I try to work on the image of Canadian motorsport. We are currently transforming it because it has long been associated with environmental pollution, whereas Formula 1 has never been as green as it is at the moment. It is something I want people to recognize. I also want Formula 1 in Canada to be healthy. What is important to me is the development of young drivers like Lance Stroll, who is in Formula 1, and another Canadian who will probably arrive in Formula 1 next year. They all started with karting, which is a sport we must support by supporting karting events. That is something I want to do more in the future. Ultimately, if my leadership in Canadian motorsport can allow me to help young people evolve and grow in karting, maybe one day they will aspire to joining the Formula 1 ranks. Additionally, when the next promoter in Quebec will take my place one day, I would like for him (or her!) to say that he/she learned from François Dumontier the way I learned from a mentor such as Normand Legault.
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