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the ladder

Ève Laurier.

Ève Laurier is general manager at Edelman Montréal, a communications marketing agency.

I've always been a performer and quite comfortable in the spotlight. When I was younger, I took five years of conservatory music lessons on the guitar; I still play today. As a toddler, I sang and danced for people when my family went out to restaurants – that's what my mom tells me.

People started telling me that I was a leader before I really knew what a leader was. In my first year of summer camp, at 11 or 12 years old, they asked a bunch of us who wanted to steer the canoe, and I said, "I'll do it!" I didn't really speak English at the time, but I was just throwing myself in there. I wasn't trying to be a leader, it was just my personality. I'd let people raise their hand, but if nobody raised their hand, I can't stand it – I'll do it, come on, let's move on.

My dad was a managing partner, and he definitely influenced my career. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. I'm the youngest of three kids in the family. My dad was working really hard and, for me, the best way to connect with him was to watch him get interested and show him what I can do. I don't hide from the fact that I went into marketing and managing, and did an executive MBA, because I wanted to show my dad. My parents are both incredibly important to me today. I still validate things with them a lot.

During my MBA, we did a lot of reflections. One of my reflections was that my next career move has to be from being an independent consultant to managing a firm. When Edelman called to say, "We have 35 people in Montreal, we need somebody to manage the growth," it was exactly what I wanted to do, and it was in communications, which was my passion and educational background. It was a perfect match.

I get up at 6 a.m. My son gets up at 6:30. I have half an hour to write my e-mails, think about the day and prepare, which is enough because I've organized it before I went to bed the night before so there is not much change. I also read my newspaper and do everything. I get to work around 8:30.

The most important thing I have learned throughout my career is how to take my energy and put it under people to give them power and confidence to take over. That is how I've taken my extroversion and tried to put it under people so that it becomes their fuel.

I'm a walker. I ask people to come and walk with me. I take people for a 15-minute walk, I listen, I provide some feedback and try to look at the positive side of things. So they are not a one-hour meeting, they are 15 minutes. They are not in a boardroom where it feels like boss-employee.

Managing millennials is different. They want to get purpose, they want to understand why I want them to do this or that. They have their own engine running. They want mentorship and you have to be there for them. I find them a joy to manage, but you need people that can thrive in an environment like that; young people have to be confident, curious and motivated. You have to show your leadership as soon as you come in.

I don't think that I've had a major failure. I've had little mistakes. I don't see things as failures, I see things as, "this is happening, how do we move on from here to make it a better opportunity?" That is literally the way that I view life. I've made mistakes, but those mistakes seemed to have paid off because I'm really happy about my life.

One of the best things I did in my career is build a network. I've reached out to people who didn't know me, but I saw them as inspiring people. I convinced them to meet with me and built a quick relationship with them, so I had this constellation of people that always say yes when I need to speak with them about something. I've nourished those relationships.

As told to Karl Moore and Aya Schechner. This interview has been edited and condensed.

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