April 6, 2019 - One on One

One-on-one with Frédéric Soucy, President since 2017 of the Société de Gestion Cogir, one of Quebec’s leader in real estate. 

1. What factors do you feel led you to become CEO of the Société de Gestion Cogir?

I think that multiple factors were favorable. Like in many cases, the sum of these factors has led us to success. I arrived in the right environment, at the right moment, with the right team and that was the beginning of the story. I initially had the desire to join and work alongside an entrepreneur and to help that person develop a business; to feel like I could influence its future. I came from a previous company that was quite larger in size, which presented pros and cons. What drove me as an individual here at Cogir was the ability to really go over and above using creativity, to come up with strategies and to be able to develop the organization without facing pre-established barriers or major political issues, something large organizations often have to deal with. Cogir to me was the ability to move fast, to move forward with operational agility and to place our customers at the center of our activities on a daily basis.

The company allowed me to use my strengths. When I arrived, I had to get familiar with the industry. I had a good background in business development and marketing. I was very well welcomed and supported and, quickly enough, I learned how to work in the real estate industry. Cogir navigates in a very creative environment, all while evolving in a very human sector. That very much resemble the person that I am, personally. It’s something that I find inspiring, still to this day. We do more than work in real estate. We seek to make a difference in people’s lives by innovating and always mobilizing elements that allow us to surpass expectations. I’ve quickly used the strengths of each and every one of us and together, we have defined our reason for being, as well as identified what motivates us and differentiates us. It’s important for me that everyone takes part in the business project. It makes a huge difference when we go into execution mode.

In short: past experiences, the right environment, the right company at the right time in its evolution and the ability to get people to work together on building our reason for being. These are the elements that made the difference.

2. What does professional success mean to you? 

It means being engaged and able to influence the industry in which we work and evolve. In a private company, we often evaluate success by measuring the level of customer satisfaction and the balance in profitability. But we can’t lose sight of the fact that to perform in these two categories, we need to ensure the people who are part of our own working team are happy and fulfilled. I hope I am helpful in making a different on that end each day! We also always have to be open and solutions-oriented. Today, things move so fast! Competitive environments evolve and companies and their teams really need to adapt. For example, I think that in Quebec, we really have a jewel in the private seniors’ residences sector. The rate in people using the product is of about 18%, so one in five seniors use these residences, compared to about one in twenty in the rest of North America. It’s a great success! We’ve reached this thanks to people who had ideas, who were listening and weren’t scare of innovating. Even better, there’s 82% of retirees still left to listen to carefully to do things even better going forward.

3. What have you learned about yourself since becoming a leader?

I learned that I adore the management and leadership profession. I also realized the strength of the teams and the importance of leading not from an office but alongside the people. It takes our ideas so much further than trying to work alone. I would also mention the ability to simplify things, communicate well and be very resilient. When we encounter failures, we must have plans B and C and be able to get back up quickly. That’s when the capacity for resourcefulness really must be developed. This matched with operational agility leads to development, surpassing limits and expectations and creation that serves the people. Finally, I think leaders must have and show a great deal of humility because the way I see it is that we serve people. It’s not the other way around. We must put ourselves at the service of others for the success of the organization.

4. What motivates and inspires you each day?

I recharge my batteries by surpassing myself and by bringing the teams to go further. What inspires me is being good today and knowing we will be better tomorrow. I’m pretty focused on that. I draw motivation from the contact with others, from the success that we obtain as a group and from a great sense of duty. I have a responsibility, as a leader, to others not to let them down, to make sure they are well and to get them to accomplish themselves. On a personal level, I run and I take on many challenges like the Grand défi Pierre Lavoie. In everything, I try to surpass myself.

5. What legacy would you like to leave as a CEO? 

My aim is for the identity of the team to be strong enough to resist through time. I would love for the team not to stop at what we have accomplished and to push things furthermore. I want them to feel free, strong and creative. It will be necessary to keep adapting to the market as it evolves. The story so far has been interesting, but the future is also ours to shape.

 

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