SD: You made it to the top of your profession as fast as any other Canadian ever has. Three reasons why?
EL: Well I think I'm quite determined. I'm always open to learning and evolving which I think is essential. And I suppose I'm always on a quest to work with others who are smart, talented, and believe in the right things as well. That makes work not only more enjoyable, it leads to more success. One thing is certain in this business, you don't do it on your own.
SD: You're now in the UK as the ECD at M&C Saatchi. How did you onboard yourself into the role. I ask because you likely didn't have the large base of relationships you might have had in TO.
EL: Yes I certainly miss all my Canadian relationships and connections. It did make things easier. But apparently I have some annoying gene that doesn't always like the easy route. When I arrived in the UK I knew I would be much more anonymous. That's why I was quite willing to not take a high profile job into an expected agency, but instead into a lesser known digital agency, knowing I had the opportunity to learn the digital side of our profession, which wasn't only interesting, I thought it was the right thing to do. I didn't really know where I would end up.
It's also about knowing the right people. I was fortunate enough to meet Gay Haines from Grace Blue, an insightful, wonderful, brave and clever headhunter who saw my potential and benefit of having a combination of being an entrepreneur, having atl and digital experience. And that was what M&C was looking for. They didn't want the expected 'big London name' candidate.
SD: What's the biggest difference been for you, contrasting business in UK/Europe versus North America?
EL: Well the biggest difference is that because the Brits have six weeks holiday a year, there's always someone away when you're doing a project. It's rather frustrating. The Canadians, North Americans, are much more reliable, because they're always at work.
SD: Are you responsible for more than one office? If so, how is that different than a one office leadership job. What are the pressure points?
EL: No, London only at this point. Which is enough for just now, as there are 13 different businesses under M&C Saatchi group in London.
SD: Can you contrast the scope of the job versus what you have done prior?
EL: It is definitely my biggest job to date. But I feel well-equipped from the culmination of all I have done before. It's also forcing me to evolve by learning how to prioritise, and discovering my true leadership style, which I love.
SD: You moderated a session at the festival (first time I think). Do you still get the jitters about these sorts of things?
EL: Yes, annoyingly, I still do. I participated in the Campaign Magazine Roundtable discussion on content and creativity. I need to prep as much as always, but I must try to worry a lot less and always remember to just enjoy it. At a certain point in one's career, no one point of view is better. It's just different.
SD: What does a Cannes Lion mean to you? Happy with the performance thus far? Thoughts on the week?
EL: Well, it's always a wonderful confirmation that you've reached a certain standard, and hopefully I'll be able to help M&C win some next year. The week, as always, is an inspiration of all the possibilities out there, and not just with the sexy brands.
Stefan Danis, reporting for Adnews.com, is CEO of Mandrake and NEXCareer and has published Gobi Runner, a book about overcoming adversity, available at Amazon.