Any list of top-performing independent agencies in Canada over the last decade would include lg2. The agency has grown to almost 500 employees, expanded to Toronto, and continues to have a reputation for excellent creative.
But this week, the agency announced substantial structural changes. First, it separated the roles of chief executive and chair. Claude Auchu remains CEO, while Monique Leroux, the former CEO and chair of Desjardins Group, becomes chair for a two-year term. Second, it introduced a new board of directors that is nearly 50% people from outside the agency (see the full list below).
The agency has been doing well, but that’s when you should make changes, explained Auchu. “I think it’s the best time to do it. Because it’s not in response to something that is broken. It’s really in the context of progress.”
Less than one-third of small businesses in Quebec are governed by a board of directors, and even fewer choose to have outside directors, he said.
But if lg2 wants to help its clients not just build their brands, but also be effective, well-run, and impactful businesses, then it had to adopt best practices in terms of sound and responsible governance, he said.
“It needs to start with us, to have a clean house. And it started today with the first step in having a solid responsible governance, even though we are a private company,” he said. “We are not a public company, we don’t have the intention of being a public company… It’s not because we want to sell, it’s really about having a responsible governance.”
Most private service-based businesses have managing partners or, if they do have a board, it’s made up of managers and executives from inside the company. But it’s difficult for those partners to see above the urgent demands of their job, he said. “Even though you profoundly want to do it, it’s a tough task.”
“External board members will bring more discipline, more neutrality and a distance to the challenges that we are facing,” he said. Putting in place an external board isn’t about managing the agency day-to-day, it’s about better strategic planning and forecasting, and having smart business people who can challenge and question the managers to make sure they are doing what’s best long-term for the business.
“It will bring a better diversity of opinions and with their backgrounds, we think we will gain years of experience with them on our side,” said Auchu.
Aside from her time at Desjardins, Leroux has also been chair of the board of directors of Investissement Québec, and chairs both the Government of Canada’s Industry Strategy Council and the Conservatoire de musique et d’art dramatique du Québec (CMADQ). She is also a member of the Order of Canada, an officer of the Ordre national du Québec, and a Chevalier of the French Légion d’honneur.
“I believe in the company’s vision of the future, which is about putting creativity to work to create positive impacts for its clients and communities,” said Leroux in a release. “The main reason I joined the board was to work with people who put their heart into their work and are driven by a can-do spirit, sense of conviction, and progressive values that I fully embrace.”
Changes to improve governance should mean lg2 is better prepared for the future, not just to respond to whatever challenges that emerge, but to be proactive about growing the agency, explained Auchu. That will likely include further expansion beyond Quebec.
Since opening in Toronto in 2014, the office had grown to about 70 people.
“But lg2 can still be [better] known in the Anglophone market,” he said, adding they plan on building on the successes in Toronto to “grow the lg2 footprint.” Could that mean another office in Vancouver? “That could be one solution,” he said.
But for now, that doesn’t mean U.S. expansion. “First we want to be strong where we are right now,” he said. “And we want to make sure that before extending out of Canada, we are strong in the country. So the first set of actions will be focused on expanding in Canada.”
LG2’S NEW BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Monique Leroux, chairman of the board, lg2
- Claude Auchu, partner, CEO, lg2
- Joe Strolz, vice-president, operations, Shopify;
- Julie Tremblay, corporate director;
- Nathalie Francisci, executive area president, east, Gallagher;
- Norman Jaskolka, CEO of Sweet Park Capital, and chairman of the Aldo Group;
- Ravy Por, executive director and leader of the center of excellence in artificial intelligence and emerging technologies, KPMG Quebec;
- Alexis Robin, partner, executive vice-president, brand and strategic initiatives, lg2
- Chris Hirsch, partner, vice-president, executive creative director, lg2
- Marc Fortin, partner, head of product, lg2
- Mireille Côté, partner, president—Quebec City, lg2
- Nicolas Baldovini, partner, vice-president, executive creative director, digital experience, lg2
- Pénélope Fournier, partner, president—Montreal, lg2