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Trusted Advisors: Up Close and Personal with… Serge Paquette

As part of a brand new series called Trusted Advisors: Up Close and Personal with…, our Web Editor will sit down every month with our Firm’s leadership for one-on-one interviews on their experience, expertise and careers. Offering a few personal revelations as well, these interviews will open the door to our team’s bold thinking and insight across practices and across the network.

We’re launching this new series today with the Managing Partner of our Montreal office, Serge Paquette, who has agreed to share some of his professional – and personal – secrets.

Serge, what advice would you give to young people interested by a career in PR?
 

Since I started managing the Montreal office in 2009, I’ve hired about 50 young professionals aged between 25 and 35. Attracting new talents is important to me because younger generations redefine our ways and aren’t afraid to question and challenge us. Now as far as the advice I generally offer them, I like to focus on four different areas:

  1. Ongoing skills development – Gaining expertise in different sectors, mastering other languages, specializing in a discipline, etc.;
  2. Networking – Building a strong business network is crucial for young professionals and it is something we look for in our employees. With the evolution of digital communications and social media, there’s just no reason not to do it.
  3. Ambition – Being ambitious is a great quality and I strongly believe in the value of mentoring programs. Luc Beauregard (editor’s note: the Firm’s Founding Chairman) was a mentor to many young professionals throughout his career, and I think that there’s nothing quite as motivating as being surrounded by winners.
  4. Community engagement – I’ve always been involved in the community and encourage young people to do as much, be it by offering some of their time to others or getting involved with a specific cause, a sports league or a charity. 

How has the public relations practice changed over the years?
 

People say that PR is a relatively new profession, but I think it’s one of the world’s oldest ones! There have always been human beings who want to inform or convince others. However, businesses only started to offer PR as an official professional service sometime at the beginning of the 20th century. In Quebec, the profession has largely evolved in the past 20-25 years, which can namely be observed through the development of academic training, the increased awareness of the practice and the specialization in various fields of expertise. The first PR university program was launched in 1996 in Quebec, and not so long ago, many of us still had to explain what we were doing every day.

What aspect of your job are you most passionate about?
 

I love the diversity of my job. My days are never dull and I like to divide my tasks into three major categories: human resources, business development, and client service. Delegating and surrounding myself with brilliant people is what allows me to keep a healthy balance in each of these areas. On the human relations side of things, I’m lucky to have a woman as talented as Francine La Haye by my side, who manages all training, hiring and mentoring programs, among other things. On the business development front, I created a committee of people from outside the Firm to help me develop business relations in highly specialized niche sectors. And, last but not least, maintaining a yearly roster of three or four clients helps me stay focused and forces me to continually challenge my way of doing. It’s also a great way for me to lead by example.  
 

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Fun facts about Serge
 

I was born in: Val-d’Or (Abitibi)
Favourite restaurant: Ferreira in Montreal
Favourite movie: The Last Emperor (by Bernardo Bertolucci)
Favourite book: The Art of War (by Sun Tzu)
If I didn’t work in PR… : I’d be in politics.
If I could be on a reality TV show, it would be: Survivor
If I could be a superhero, I’d be: Super Man
Dream travel destination: Rome
Most memorable vacation: A trip to Israel, Palestine and Egypt
If I could be any celebrity, I’d be: Barack Obama
Favourite past time: Cooking (comfort food is my specialty)
Person I most admire: Nelson Mandela
First concert I ever went to is: Metallica
Favourite band: Earth, Wind and Fire will always be my favorite band. In the “not as outdated” category, I would choose Justin Timberlake.
Guilty pleasure: Food and wine!

ALSO IN THE TRUSTED ADVISORS SERIES