Why a board of directors is a big deal for Lg2

The agency sees the governance model as a way to foster growth and talent development while remaining independent.
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Independent creative agency Lg2 is adopting a new governance model with the creation of a board of directors that includes both internal and external directors.

“It has always been the philosophy of Lg2 to reinvent itself when things are going well,” says Claude Auchu, partner and CEO of the agency. “This is about having sound and responsible governance. We started with strategic planning over the last two years, which led to us working on governance and our social impact. We know that work needs to start with us, and if it starts with us, it has to start at the top – that is the board.”

While all companies in Canada are required to have at least one director, having a board with external or non-investor members is a rare one for privately-held businesses. That’s particularly true in Quebec, where just 30% of small businesses are governed by a board of directors, according to research from Laval University.

Lg2, however, has established a 13-member board that includes six external directors – including Canadian businesswoman Monique Leroux, who sits as chair. Leroux is known for serving in high-profile business roles, including as chair and CEO of Desjardins Group from 2008 to 2016 (a period during which she was an Lg2 client). Her history of collaboration with the agency began through Fondation de l’Institut de cardiologie de Montréal, and she has also sat on the boards of Bell, Michelin, Couche-Tard and S&P Global.

“It is a good practice to bring on external directors, especially when it’s time to think about strategic opportunities and, more broadly, what’s going on in the industry,” says Leroux. “They’re the voice of the stakeholders, and if you want to have impact as a company, you need to think about the stakeholders around you. To a certain extent, the composition of the board will bring a more holistic view of the communities around Lg2.”

The other external directors on the board are Joe Strolz, VP of operations at Shopify; Norman Jaskolka, CEO of Sweet Park Capital and chairman of the Aldo Group; Nathalie Francisci, executive area president, east with insurance broker Gallagher; Ravy Por, executive director and leader of the Center of Excellence in Artificial Intelligence and Emerging Technologies, KPMG Quebec; and former Quebecor CEO Julie Tremblay.

The board also has seven internal directors. In addition to Auchu, they are Marc Fortin, partner and head of product; Alexis Robin, partner and EVP of brand and strategic initiatives; Chris Hirsch, partner, VP and ECD at Lg2 Toronto; Mireille Cote, partner and president for Lg2 Quebec City; Nicolas Baldovini, partner, VP and ECD of digital experience; and Penelope Fournier, partner and president of Lg2 Montreal.

A primary impetus for the move is to drive professional development within the agency. To that end, Lg2 has also created a new “talent and leadership development council” which will work alongside the board and is chaired by Fortin. The council will identify and foster emerging talent within Lg2 as the business as a whole looks to prioritize recruitment, retention and growth.

“I hope that this will contribute to the growth and development of Lg2 on the Canadian scene,” says Leroux. “Many of us, including me, have a lot of experience in operations and in transformation and developing people and talent. Not just to develop talent from an employee point of view, but also new entrepreneurs who will continue to be there to help Lg2 expand across Canada.”

Auchu says the board will also be a sustainable way to help the agency stay independent. Lg2 has a track record of making some unique business moves to ensure it can grow without being bought out by a major holding company. In 2016, for example, it completed a succession plan that involved the creation of a second company (“Lg2345″) that new partners in the agency were given the chance to buy into. That new company was funded by an equivalent loan from Desjardins, and a portion of profits was used to buy back the shares of the company founders and repay the loan gradually.