A Global Comms Playbook with Leslie Quinton, VP of Comms at Ubisoft

Episode Summary

This episode features an interview with Leslie Quinton, VP of Communications at Ubisoft, a gaming company with over 20,000 employees and 40 office locations worldwide. With over 20 years of communications experience across multiple industries at companies big and small, Leslie is a walking comms playbook. On this episode, Leslie shares her must-do’s for doing global communications right, what the secret ingredient is for improving company culture, and her advice for comms leaders struggling to get company buy-in.

Episode Notes

This episode features an interview with Leslie Quinton, VP of Communications at Ubisoft, a gaming company with over 20,000 employees and 40 office locations worldwide. With over 20 years of communications experience across multiple industries at companies big and small, Leslie is a walking comms playbook.   

On this episode, Leslie shares her must-do’s for doing global communications right, what the secret ingredient is for improving company culture, and her advice for comms leaders struggling to get company buy-in. 


“So one of the things that I think that companies did at the beginning and now have really gotten out of a lot more. Trying to rely upon their old ways of doing things and figure out just how to adjust the old way, as opposed to thinking in a completely new way. And I think that’s the virtue of the pandemic. If there is a silver lining to it, is that it forced us to get out of some old paradigms and really shift our thinking. So the companies that didn’t do well in internal communications tried to take their existing model and tweak it. Whereas the companies who did well said. Do this totally differently. We’re going to introduce a whole new platform or we’re going to change who delivers the messages or other things, but that’s, it’s kind of seizing that opportunity in what was really, you know, obviously a global crisis.” — Leslie Quinton


Episode Timestamps:

*(1:38) - How Leslie got interested in communications

*(3:33) - Leslie’s current role

*(4:55) - Segment: Story Time

*(7:53) - Mistakes companies make that can be turned around easily

*(9:16) - Leslie’s favorite foundation/board she’s a part of

*(11:24) - Segment: Getting Tactical

*(15:36) - Must-do’s for doing global comms

*(20:01) - Improving company culture through comms

*(22:54) - Differences in comms at both large and small companies

*(25:07) - Segment: Seat at the Table

*(28:13) - Advice for comms leaders struggling with getting company buy-in

*(29:45) - Segment: Asking for a Friend

*(37:30) - The next big shift in comms 



Connect with Leslie on LinkedIn

Follow Leslie on Twitter

Amanda’s LinkedIn

Episode Transcription

[00:01:35] Leslie, thank you so much for joining me today. I want to start a little bit about your background. How did you get interested in communications? 

[00:01:42] Leslie: It's actually a little bit funny, Amanda, because it wasn't my destiny, actually. I was supposed to be studying something else. And I was, I was, when I was in school, in fact, I was really focused on, I thought I was going to be university professor and I was doing communications a little bit on the side.

[00:01:57] I was, I was a professional [00:02:00] debater. If I can say that a competitive debater, I then university and I love to write and I love to talk. And so this little communications job I had on the side was really a way just to make some extra money. And I started writing speeches and then I was doing translations.

[00:02:14] Then I started writing magazine articles and I just kind of got into it very organically. And then after that, I began to really develop expertise. By living it by really working in the field. So a little bit of an unconventional path, but then I ended up going back to school anyway and teaching. So that was my education because when you teach, you really have to educate yourself first.

[00:02:33] Yeah. 

[00:02:34] Amanda: Yeah. That's something I hear from a lot of great leaders we have on this. Yeah. When I asked the question, how did you get into this? Their instance always seemed to be it just, I just sort of fell into this. It was never super sort of planned. I think that's a good lesson from what, like people that take away be open to this con different 

[00:02:50] Leslie: experiences.

[00:02:51] I mean, you know, something, there was a study that was done a while ago in the U S that showed that people in communications in particular are probably more skilled and a little more [00:03:00] flexible when they come from other kinds of backgrounds. In other words, and I'm, and I, I can't look, I, I taught at two different universities, so I obviously believe in.

[00:03:07] Communications, but, but there is something to be said by having another background beyond communications as well, that you bring another perspective and a little bit of openness to whatever you, whatever you're approaching. And that's really critical in any communications. Yeah, 

[00:03:21] Amanda: absolutely. That's a really good call out.

[00:03:23] I, I just focused on one recently who, who never had an internal communications title and then just got into like a senior director role. So I think that's a really good call out. Can you tell me a little bit more about your current role as VP of communications at UBC? 

[00:03:37] Leslie: So the Ubisoft environment, as you might know, or one of the world's biggest video game producers, and one of the oldest as well, it started literally in the founder's garage, 35 years ago.

[00:03:48] In fact, this month is the 35th anniversary. We've now grown to 50 studios around the world and all kinds of the world's top selling video games. I'm not going to do a, an ad [00:04:00] for them, but it's interesting for me, I've only been here six and a half months. So as a newcomer to this industry, It's such a different world from anything else I've ever been part of.

[00:04:09] It's so interesting to find out all of the different components of what does it mean to be part of this, of this particular world, which has such a huge social impact. I didn't realize before I started working here that. Uh, that the video game industry is bigger than the movie industry and bigger than the music industry, the impact and the influence that it has is extraordinary.

[00:04:28] So I'm in charge of internal and external communications, which includes our events and all of our activities here, both with employees, but also our media relations. Uh, I'm part of a bigger global team. So there's, we've got people who do this in other places around the world as well. But what's been really exciting for me is understanding kind of the cultural revolution that we're going through within our organization and even within our industry.

[00:04:52] And that's a big part of the internal comms role that I. 

[00:04:55] Amanda: Yeah, I have some questions about that later, when just want to go into, [00:05:00] get some stories from you. So I'm going to go move into story time.

[00:05:09] So you mentioned you joined Ubisoft about six and a half months ago, and it is a very large company. I think I saw as at 20,000 employees 

[00:05:19] Leslie: around the world. Yeah, like 

[00:05:21] Amanda: maybe it was at the, maybe you said 50 or 40 different countries joining that size of a company during a pandemic, which I'm guessing you've been virtual every since then.

[00:05:32] Um, or, you know, a big part of it is virtual even, just because you're so spread out. Um, how does that experience being both virtual and in a pandemic and being spread out, influence how your team helps new people and onboarded to 

[00:05:45] Leslie: the company? So that's a really, it's a really interesting question because first of all, for me as an employee, it was an interesting experience or a, that's not even the word, it's really an odd experience because it was the first time in my life I've ever been [00:06:00] hired without actually meeting anybody face-to-face or seeing the office space.

[00:06:03] So I have a tremendous empathy for all those employees who started new jobs during the pandemic, such as. It's such a different experience on so many levels. So one of the things that happened here and that w that I I'm really proud of our team. It started before I got here, of course, because I've only been here since may, but the is the whole onboarding process has been critically changed in order to become a virtual one.

[00:06:27] And soon we hope it will be a hybrid one. So we'll have aspects that are in person and aspects that are online, but we went from a culture which is highly engaged. So you can imagine video games that people will work in the video game industry are people who are. Who have a high level of social interaction.

[00:06:44] They love to play games. Like literally people play physical games and play games with each other at lunch and things like that. It's a very, like, I'm not what you've talked about. Video games, I'm talking about your old style, you know, conventional board games. So there's this tremendous need to kind of connect and moving that to an [00:07:00] online.

[00:07:00] Mode was really an interesting challenge. So we have the best onboarding I've ever experienced. I've worked for about, let's say over the course of my career, seven or eight large organizations, as well as when I was an agency, I worked with a lot of other organizations and saw their models. I've never seen such an interesting onboarding model.

[00:07:19] And so that was really the key thing during the pandemic as to how to keep people engaged from the moment they start. So having this really fantastic onboarding that was in. Dave that allowed people to play games a little bit with one another. There was quizzes at the end of the week that had created a little challenges and moments to interconnect.

[00:07:37] It honestly was I think, key how this company was able to manage through all of that and how I was able to kind of fit in pretty quickly. Now we're back to, um, more presence in the office. So it's a little easier, cause you can, there's nothing like connecting with people in real life, but our onboarding was a big part.

[00:07:53] Is there one, 

[00:07:53] Amanda: just, just thinking about this before we move on, is there one mistake that you see a lot of companies are making that that's something they could turn around 

[00:07:59] Leslie: [00:08:00] very easily? Oh, that's a good question. I would say there's a lot of companies who took some time because I worked, I was working at a different company at the beginning of the pandemic and we, and it was also a global company and I was responsible for all the communications.

[00:08:12] In fact, it was a 30,000 person company, people in all these different countries don't speak the same language. Also manufacturing. So in a manufacturing environment, you can imagine how disruptive that was because suddenly people couldn't come to the office and you had to only communicate with them strictly through writing or through kind of the traditional means.

[00:08:30] So one of the things that I think that companies did at the beginning and now have really gotten out of a lot more. Trying to rely upon their old ways of doing things and figure out just how to adjust the old way, as opposed to thinking in a completely new way. And I think that's the virtue of the pandemic.

[00:08:48] If there is a silver lining to it, is that it forced us to get out of some old paradigms and really shift our thinking. So the companies that didn't do well in internal communications tried to take their existing model and tweak it. Whereas the [00:09:00] companies who did well said. Do this totally differently.

[00:09:02] We're going to introduce a whole new platform or we're going to change who delivers the messages or other things, but it it's kind of seizing that opportunity in what was really a, you know, obviously a global crisis. Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:09:16] Amanda: But to switch gears for a second, cause I know you said on a, several boards, the boards of several foundations, um, and you've done so in the past, I know this is going to be a little bit like which child is your favorite, but do you have a favorite foundation that you're most proud of the work you're doing in?

[00:09:33] Um, and if there's more than one, just, you know, shout them all out, but I'm just curious about your work. You do. 

[00:09:39] Leslie: Oh, that's such a, I did that. I did not expect that question. There's two that I'm doing a lot of work for right now, mainly because I'm president of one and the incoming president of the other.

[00:09:49] So in my very limited spare time, it's really devoted a lot. One is I'm president of the Canadian chapter of international women's forum. And that's all about leveraging women's [00:10:00] influence women who are leaders already making sure that we support the next. Of generation that we are using our capacity to make real change and provide equity.

[00:10:08] And it's a, it's a really interesting group. There's only 5,000 members around the world, but it's making great changes and really impacting everything from public policy to, you know, on the ground change. So that I'm very proud of. And there's a, it's not a favorite child, but it certainly consumes a lot of my non-working life.

[00:10:27] And then the other one, the one I'm incoming president is medical alert. So the, you know, the brain. Organization. So it's a foundation. Some people think it's a company, but it's a foundation. And here in Canada, it's a little bit different in every country where it operates. But in Canada, we also do a lot of, of activities with people who are vulnerable.

[00:10:44] So making sure people who have Alzheimer's or certain children who may be at risk, that they are equipped with the bracelet free. So for me, Giving back to the community is such a critical part of my identity, but it's also, I think, a great way for [00:11:00] organizations to think about how they, you know, how they can make a positive impact.

[00:11:03] So I don't do it for my own brand, but I highly recommend that organizations do it because it's such an important part of how they, how they are connected to their community. Yeah, I, 

[00:11:13] Amanda: like I mentioned, when we first talked on this call that I follow you on, or we're connected on LinkedIn and just, just seeing the stuff you're doing both at work and outside of work is absolutely phenomenal and very inspiring.

[00:11:24] And I want to dig, we'll continue to dig into that, but I just want to put this out there for our listeners that follow Leslie, because our, you know, connect on LinkedIn. It's pretty inspiring. And I, and like I said, we'll jump into a bit more of that. Do you want to dig a little bit deeper in some of your background and get, get some more, get tactical and dig a little deeper, 

[00:11:43] Leslie: um, trying to figure out tactics and it'd be prayerful honest, and I didn't have to worry about tactics to merge here I am in charge and driving to see why didn't you sleep some tactics you 

[00:11:55] Amanda: taught a course at McGill university called the issue management.

[00:11:58] Communication, [00:12:00] because back in 2001 to 2009, I'm curious if you have a favorite case study that you've taught or analyzed or discussed with your students and some takeaways we can, we can get out 

[00:12:10] Leslie: of that. So they were actually two different courses. So issues management was more of. Influencing public policy and stakeholder engagement, which is as you know, externally speaking, that's a huge area of corporate communications.

[00:12:23] And then corporate communications itself was internal. External. A little bit of CSR is a little bit of design and marketing and brand management. So all of that and also includes a little bit of crisis management. And change management. So, so those are some of the kind of key areas that you're responsible for in corporate communication.

[00:12:43] And I ended up using a lot. I'm a very anecdotal kind of person. I love to use examples, as you said, case studies, but also things that I've lived or other companies that lived. And there's one story that I use all the time when I'm talking about change management and I have a very strong belief. [00:13:00] Most communications is really changed management because in everything we do, whether we're talking to our employees or to an external stakeholder, we're really trying to influence somebody to think something or do something.

[00:13:11] So if you, if you put it in that really kind of simplistic way, communications equals change management, and there's an example of from change. That I use all the time. And I use it also now in my real life, like when I'm trying to talk to somebody in a member of the management team or someone else, and that is, is that the nature of how we react to change and that we have a couple of options in our lives.

[00:13:34] We can. Go with that kind of happy accident. You know, the story about the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. I don't know if you know that I actually gave, I don't think I know that one I gave out. I gave out chocolate chip cookies to everybody and I'm, and when I shared this example, because the way chocolate chip cookies were invented was a, there was a woman, an American woman who was trying to make a chocolate cookie and she forgot to melt the chocolate.

[00:13:54] So she threw the chips in afterwards and thought, well, they'll probably melt. Of course they didn't melt and we've [00:14:00] got the chocolate chip cookie. So, so some changes, some changes are happy. Yeah. Right. When something doesn't go the way you plan it, you go, okay, I'm going to roll with this and that, then that's a great, happy outcome when you can kind of just, you know, go with the punches and, and, and figure it out as you go along and figure out like, what's, what's the opportunity again, a little bit with the relationship with the pandemic.

[00:14:19] Yeah. I mean, we're changing how we're doing stuff. Yeah. Uh, the second one, which is related to that is also a change management anecdote or analogy, which is what happened to Smith Corona. So, you know, Smith Corona was the world's largest manufacturer of typewriters. And when word processors came along, they had two choices, right.

[00:14:39] They could either join them or they could double down and try to make better typewriters. And that's what they did. And now you never hear the name, Sue Smith and Corona. So Smith Corona is the perfect example of what not to do in a crisis is to kind of hold onto your old precepts. So strongly it says that, well, this is what we do.

[00:14:58] And that's all we do. You [00:15:00] know, there's all kinds of examples of that, but I tell that story a lot and stories like that, which really talk about how we respond to change is going to, it's going to really affect obviously our outcome and we have to not be so rooted in what we think we believe is true, that we miss in fact, an opportunity to grow.

[00:15:17] Yeah, I feel like I'm going to use that 

[00:15:18] Amanda: chocolate, chocolate chip story. Every time I meet a chocolate chip cookie, I want to look that up a little bit. I want to also talk about, cause you were also a lecture and international strategic communication at the university as it is it Sherbrooke. I wanna make sure I'm pronouncing that correctly.

[00:15:36] Could you talk a little bit more about that? I mean, Ubisoft a lot of more companies are becoming more global and I'm just interested if you have any must do's or must knows when doing international strategic communications, how should we be thinking about that a little bit differently than, than maybe, you know, non-international strategic communications?

[00:15:55] What are those commandments of, or must do that we should all know 

[00:15:58] Leslie: about. It's [00:16:00] really interesting because teaching that course was a great eye-opener to me, it was a master's program. So these are people who are already very well-educated in communication. They already had degrees in communications and teaching that course really had two different focuses.

[00:16:12] It was teaching people how to be strategic, which is not a given. And that, and just because you have a degree in communications or someone like me who has a degree in something else doesn't mean you're automatically strategic. Like. But it is a muscle you can develop. It's it's, it's the kind of thing that you can.

[00:16:28] I mean, I was lucky because I did debating and debating is actually a fantastic, it was anybody's uh, in the audience who's, uh, who's a university debate or college debater. It's a great way to develop analytical strategic thinking. That'll really help you in real life. It's the most useful. And I did and all my, all my education, to be honest, but in teaching that course, it was both this focus on strategy, as well as what does it mean at an international level?

[00:16:50] So I was head of communications for three different global multinationals, three different industries. And I can tell you that there are specific challenges that are [00:17:00] related often, uh, very closely connected to what happens at a local level when information gets interpreted, and then filtered through.

[00:17:09] The regional or the, you know, the local lens. And it was interesting because last night you probably saw on LinkedIn last night, I was, I was a guest at a class at McGill, again, in the management and ethics class. And somebody asked a similar question. They said, well, what's it like with a code of conduct, for example, most, most communications people around the world are responsible for getting everybody to sign up and make sure you read your code of conduct and that you understand it.

[00:17:33] And that there's a, there's an element of change managers. And somebody put up their hands said, what's the problem? What are the problems with having a code of conduct in different, different regions in different countries? And one of the ways that I answered it was it is exactly the kind of policy that can be written on a global level that has so much local interpretation possible.

[00:17:54] And the specific example that I gave was when I was at my last company, we [00:18:00] opened up an office in. And in Russia, the people there, they saw the code of conduct. They'd never had that before in their previous company because we acquired them. They'd never had a code of conduct or if they did, they didn't really give it much, you know, much attention.

[00:18:13] And they noticed that it had this element of a whistleblower and as you know, a whistleblower model, any publicly traded company needs to have that because it allows for certain transparency. And if there's something that shouldn't be happening behind the scenes, it gives employees a chance to report on that.

[00:18:27] But because the people in Russia had never had this. Before they were using it to report things like, oh, well, you know how come he's parking in that space next to the door all the time and how come he has two computers or two or two staplers? Like it was, it was really ludicrous. The kinds of things they were reporting on because they were.

[00:18:47] On the custom to this notion of what does this mean kind of transparent access. So there are definitely issues within organizations in terms of how do you adapt to local cultures? Another company I work for for example, [00:19:00] had a policy that said no alcohol during the. No alcohol at all. And there are a lot of companies that have that as a policy, but we had a branch in France and they were so upset because they said, how can we possibly have lunch without having wine at lunch?

[00:19:13] That doesn't make any sense at all. So, so there's always this element of cultural relativism that needs to be taken into account where you say, well, what's the reality here? And how do we make sure that we address people according to what they really need to know and how they, and how they receive. For example, my company is a French company.

[00:19:31] French companies tend to be very hierarchical. Whereas a lot of the people who work in the office here are obviously not from that background. And so they have a very different attitude about hierarchy and even things like what's the polite form in French. We speak in French a lot here that we use. So we have to, we have to use the.

[00:19:49] Polite forum when we speak to the president, but amongst us, we're allowed to use the informal. So there's those kinds of interesting divergences or differences, according to the cultural context you're [00:20:00] in. Yeah, I'm sure I want 

[00:20:01] Amanda: to, I want to touch on that a little bit, and I'm not saying where you're at now or any of the examples you've given, but if you've, how would, how does internal communication.

[00:20:11] Work, when you're trying to change a company culture, maybe from something that's very toxic to something that's, uh, that's not toxic or, um, you know, negative to positive. What advice would you give someone in internal communications? Who's who's really a job is to help facilitate those changes, um, and are struggling with, you know, getting some funding.

[00:20:31] Do you have any thoughts on. 

[00:20:32] Leslie: I think that cultural change, especially when it's going from a negative to a positive, no one changes from a positive, negative on purpose. Of course. So when you're trying to improve your corporate culture, get a higher net promoter score for the HR people, you know, become a more of a sense of be maybe you're want to be employer of choice.

[00:20:48] All those things. It really starts with having a sense of transparency from the leadership because employees are, uh, sometimes underestimated in terms [00:21:00] of how much they pay attention to the messages. And I think that it becomes a really critical that your leadership team and it's not what, just one person, it's really the people around them.

[00:21:08] And that's actually an old model to that. I think we need to break and spread out the responsibility as well as the vision amongst multiple leaders. But the leadership team has to be able to really strongly communicate whatever that new inspiring vision is, and then be willing to be super transparent and even vulnerable about it.

[00:21:27] Yeah. 

[00:21:27] Amanda: So I'm just curious. I want to go back to, you said break that model. What does that model look like? She, you. Or do you have any thoughts on 

[00:21:33] Leslie: that? The old model? You mean, what 

[00:21:36] Amanda: would a new model of dispersing 

[00:21:38] Leslie: power look like to you? So I think the model and I mean, and you know what, every organization is different, there's the, you know, there's the Elon Musk and the Richard Branson of this world, right.

[00:21:47] Who are very much centered around kind of almost a cult figure who really. You know, Steve jobs was that person. I don't think that that model necessarily is sustainable in the longterm, I think. And maybe [00:22:00] this is a bit, maybe I'm diverging a bit from the original, uh, the original purpose of this podcast, but I really do believe that that a coach leader is the right kind of, of managing.

[00:22:10] And I also believe that diffuse power as much more, as much more impactful than saying we have one person who's kind of your Demi God and his and his or her word is gold. So one of the things that we try to do, and then I try to do is show that there's a group of talented people surrounding the person at the top.

[00:22:27] And the other reason this is important is because you render yourself extremely sensitive to any kind of leadership change. If everything is hinged, if your culture, if your identity is all hinged on one point. And that's exactly what happened with Steve jobs. Right. And then poor Tim cook and he came in, so it's a healthier system for an organization, but it also makes it easier to communicate the message because you have so many messengers.

[00:22:50] Yeah. 

[00:22:50] Amanda: Well, I'll, I'll get us back on track here, Leslie. Sorry. I'm just very curious, your perspective. You have such an interesting and something well thought out perspective, but I want to go back to the idea of, yeah. [00:23:00] You're working at a very large company and I assume you've worked at very small companies and very large companies as like you are now.

[00:23:06] What are some challenges you see with each very work, doing internal communications at a very small company and also at a very large global 

[00:23:14] Leslie: company. So I've been working for large companies exclusively for the past 12 years. And during that period, the technological revolution in communication tools is really as really just unfolded at this incredible speed.

[00:23:30] And the whole notion of the role of internets, for example, and how we connect with people and how we manage and share information with them. That to me has been a major, major, positive influence in how organizations can reach their people and make sure they're also hearing back from them because the old model, and this is something I actually used to teach in the.

[00:23:50] K course, the old model of what we're going to just give you this information and you have to absorb it and react to it does not work. And the new model [00:24:00] is much more interactive. So in a smaller organization, the opportunities for interaction are mult multiple, right? I go and sit down, you can take your little team out to lunch.

[00:24:09] You know, I worked for an accompany with 300 people. Everybody knew everybody. That was an easy environment to manage when you're working with 45,000 people, which was one of my jobs. It was all about making sure that the right ambassadors were able to carry the message. A a technological solution, but be a very human solution by making sure we had enough of the right people.

[00:24:31] And it's why this idea that was, has been put aside a lot during the pandemic, but I hope it comes back of bringing people together for these mega sessions where you say, okay, let's do a big download. Let's have an opportunity to connect and network and just got to know each other, but also really share key information that is such an important element of.

[00:24:51] Any organizations, information cascade, cause you need to have those people kind of on-site from the beginning. And I can say I've only been here for six and a half months, [00:25:00] as I said, but I can see how communications has suffered without those moments of bringing people to. 

[00:25:05] Amanda: I want to dig just a little bit deeper into that.

[00:25:07] So I'm going to move into the next segment called seat at the table 

[00:25:12] Leslie: to table, to table, to table 

[00:25:18] Amanda: thinking about the size of the company that you're at, and you're going to need technology and staff to help get those messages out and dispersed. How do you go about, you know, respectfully and persuasively justifying a budget for your 

[00:25:32] Leslie: department?

[00:25:34] The good news for me is that this is the first company I've ever been in, who really saw communications as critical to the operations. And didn't see it as a cost center. I've literally had bosses say to me, presidents and other companies saying, saying, oh, here comes Leslie, how much is it going to cost us?

[00:25:53] And so we were seen as a price, we had to pay as opposed to an added value. So. And I'm, this is a shout outs that you'd be soft [00:26:00] for the recognition of communications as a strategic element within our culture, within our, you know, the wellbeing of employee engagement, all those things. So it hasn't been as hard here as it's been in other environments to be perfectly honest, but it usually is.

[00:26:14] Extremely complicated. And we still do of course constraints. It's not no holds barred, of course. But the interesting thing about this environment versus other environments is that when you have a sense of buy-in and people recognize the impact, then there's an opportunity for you to continue to justify that what often has happened in the past and what I've observed, even when I was on the agency side and my clients were in a position where they had to negotiate budgets is that it's often easier to cut.

[00:26:43] Communications projects because they are difficult to understand the ROI. So like, what is the value exactly. Of this hard to say, but we know it's going to bring up our employees morale. Well, how do you know that? Well, our surveys are showing that people feel more engaged. Yeah. But is it because of that or is it [00:27:00] because of their salaries?

[00:27:00] So, because the KPIs around communications are sometimes really difficult to quantify. Less. So an employee comms, I would say I really feel employee comps as much as there's a much more clear correlation, but because there's a lot of stuff that people say, yeah, it's a nice to have, but is it really needed?

[00:27:17] It has been hard in other organizations. And I know a lot of communications people have this issue. So surprisingly, I don't really have that issue right now, but I shouldn't say that out loud because I don't want to jinx it. But for example, the Ubisoft culture is. You know, we're we're we make games. So there's an element of entertainment and fun people believe seriously and fun.

[00:27:37] There are so many great events. My team also does all the events. Uh, we have all these great activities. We were, you know, willing to really try things. And I'm lucky enough to be in an organization that allows you to fail. So you can try something if it doesn't. Okay, we move on. And that I think is part of a mindset that not many organizations have.

[00:27:56] A lot of corporations are not willing to take that kind of risk, but [00:28:00] we given the kind of work that we do. We're more risk takers, which allows us to even be a little more flexible with budgets. So I think there's a, co-relation how conservative is your company and how likely they are to invest heavily in communications?

[00:28:13] Yeah. What 

[00:28:14] Amanda: would you, what advice would you give someone who's an internal communications who's really struggling getting their company to invest. Is there a couple of pieces of advice that you, you would like to put out to our listeners that they may be 

[00:28:25] Leslie: able to use? I've may. I mean, I've been in this situation many times where you need to justify something.

[00:28:30] Sometimes it's. Sometimes you have to have some small gains to build confidence and credibility in order to go for the big gains. So you might not want to go shoot for your big battle the first time that's one of them is to, is to progressively when that, that sense of, of confidence and trust and so that you can continue to go further.

[00:28:51] The second issue that I had, and it was, it was a, it was a lesson that I learned the hard way because I had a project that I was so sure that it was. It [00:29:00] was a done deal. It was absolutely clear to me this isn't a previous life, of course. And I ended up, um, just coming and presenting it to the rest exec team saying, Hey, we're going to do this.

[00:29:09] I had no idea how much people would feel invested in it and how strongly they reacted to it. And it got pulled. And if I. Spent even an hour speaking to five or six people for five or 10 minutes, just to get people on side and building up those allies beforehand, that would've changed the whole outcome.

[00:29:31] So my second piece of advice is to really build relationships of people who are your supporters and can see the value in what you're doing and let them also speak for you because that will help you to push forward on the projects you think are. I'm going to 

[00:29:45] Amanda: move into my last site. My last thing that's called asking for a friend.

[00:29:53] Leslie: Hey, asking for a friend.[00:30:00]

[00:30:00] Amanda: So I know you're on a bunch of boards. You clearly do a bunch of megabytes, you'll be solved, but I'm wondering if there's one non-work-related activity that you do. Do you feel like has, um, that it indirectly impacts you and makes you better at your job that you would recommend for our 

[00:30:15] Leslie: listeners? I'm trying to decide which activity would be the best one, Amanda, because honestly, I love to do a lot of things.

[00:30:22] I'm really engaged in culture. I didn't mention it, but I'm on the board of, for this dance troupe. Uh, I love, I studied music and art my whole life, and now I'm really into that as well. I guess the thing, and this is, this is not going to be a surprise probably, but the thing that I do that I appreciate the most is.

[00:30:39] When I travel and I travel a lot and my family and I, we have a, my husband's an immigrant, so we have a house in another country as well. And when I travel, I'm able to kind of a disconnect from my reality, but the liberate myself to think about things in a completely different way, one of the best products ever did for employee comms was the one that I mentioned [00:31:00] actually in the interview.

[00:31:01] Then when I was on a panel with. Before. And that project came to me in this kind of spontaneous way when I was thinking about nothing to do with work. So there's a really important and valuable aspect of just doing anything, whether you're a runner or whether you play the tuba, it doesn't matter just.

[00:31:19] Be in a space where you're not necessarily thinking about what it is you have to do for work. And it becomes this amazing generator, this incubator for new ideas, I'm somebody who loves to travel. And that gives me a lot of inspiration, but it could be something else. I also read, I read intensively. And so I'm constantly curious about all these different things.

[00:31:38] And recently I've gotten into Tik TOK, although I don't do tick-tock. I just watch tick-tock. That's like a whole other conversation. That's a, let's put another language practically. So, so it's, I guess maybe another way to, to, uh, put all that together and to summarize it, would it be to say like half curiosity?

[00:31:56] So don't just be about your work and your family, but be [00:32:00] into something else that gives you a sense of just how incredible and amazing the rest of the world is and, and makes you think what your day to day is like in a different way. Yeah. I 

[00:32:09] Amanda: know when I, when I was looking at these questions and writing some notes about them, I thought about this one for myself.

[00:32:14] And I feel like I'm a lot like you, like, I just like to try new things, even if I fail out. Um, it's trying. And um, currently one of the things I'm doing, that's helping to clear my mind is kind of what you said is I'm refinishing a, an old desk. I've done it before. It was like 20 years ago. And so at night I've been down there stripping and sanding and.

[00:32:35] I love for the listeners to take away from that, just open your mind and try something completely different. And that allow you to disconnect from work. I know running, I used to, when I was a runner 20, 20 mile run, where I could just let it go and come back and feel emotionally refreshed and physically better.

[00:32:51] Um, so I love that. I love hearing that from you that you're trying new things. Um, cause that's sort of the way that I was thinking about that question as well. [00:33:00] I know, you've, you know, you're sitting on a board about, you know, female leaders in Canada. Is there a significant barrier as a leader who is a woman that you've had to overcome?

[00:33:09] Or have you heard of story, you know, as you're sitting on that board that you could share with, with our listeners, 

[00:33:15] Leslie: First of all. I'll tell you, Amanda, that when I started 25 ish years ago in kind of a corporate professional setting, I really assume would be in a very different place by now. I thought we would be really a parody.

[00:33:29] Like what's what what's holding us back from having. 50% of our politicians, 50% of our leaders, 50% of our judges like theirs. It doesn't make sense to me that in 2021, we would still be so dramatically skewed, uh, that with, uh, with an overwhelming male bias and overwhelming white male bias for that matter.

[00:33:48] So. I'll start by saying that not to be negative, but just to say that it's strange to me that we have not progressed so much more than we have when I started my first kind of responsible job, I was [00:34:00] 30 ish and I was director. I was appointed director of communications for that small company. I mentioned 300 people and it was an amazing experience because I got to do everything.

[00:34:11] The PR I did the marketing. I did, I did the website. I did the videos I really got, and that was really my on-site education. I really had a great, great experience there. And the exception though, the issue in that particular case was I was the only woman in the management team. And so there were probably 25 men directors and vice-presidents, and me, I remember showing up to a cocktail that was being organized by the president.

[00:34:37] I reported to the president. The room went quiet when I came, when I came in and to the point where I almost real, I almost thought that, okay, well, maybe I don't belong and you, you can never let yourself in any environment, man, or woman doubt yourself. You need to be, you need to own it. And if you don't feel that you have.

[00:34:57] Act, and you have to it's the classic fake [00:35:00] it till you make it. You have to, you have to show externally everything that you want to be and wants to have other people feel about you. So it was such an awkward experience. And then a couple months later it was, um, it was secretary's day, which I think is April 23rd.

[00:35:16] Now it's called administrative assistance day, but at the time secretary's day. And so all of the secretaries, all the administrative assistants got flowers. And so. And, uh, and I remember, and I remember thinking, what if I, what is this? And so I went down to HR and I said, why did I get flowers? And they said, well, because you're a woman.

[00:35:35] And, you know, we didn't want you to be the only woman who didn't get flowers, you didn't get flowers. And I said, I'm perfectly content not to get flowers. So, I mean, that was a real estate environment. And then I worked in engineering environments. I worked, I worked in a lot of very masculine environments and what's interesting is that communication.

[00:35:51] Are very oftentimes women. So I'll work with a lot of women, but then work in a male environment. So I've, I've learned a long time ago, how [00:36:00] to kind of speak the local language, whatever that is. And sometimes it's a more masculine language, but I honestly don't feel that there need to be any real barriers.

[00:36:08] I'm also the mother of a teenage daughter. So I have to believe that I have to believe that that this is the last generation where there are these outmoded models of, well, you have to be the one who stays at home or. Um, and time, because you're the person who cooks dinner. My husband cooks dinner four nights a week, if not more.

[00:36:26] So we have to shake up these models. It frustrates the heck out of me. When I see on a social platform, whether it's tick talk or, or Facebook, when people are complaining about the fact that they have to tell their husband to do the laundry or pick up the garbage, what, what is that? That doesn't even mean?

[00:36:44] That shouldn't even be part of our vocabulary and that whole thing about babysitting their own kids. Like, honestly, we should be so past that. There's no excuse for that. And honestly, until we get to that point, it's never going to, it's never going to be true equality in the workplace either because you're still going to be this kind of [00:37:00] skewed perception.

[00:37:01] So here in Quebec, we're lucky I should mention because it was one of the places. In the world where we've kind of like a, almost like a, like a Scandinavian model in many places, you know, we have a hundred percent paid, uh, paternity leave and maternity leave. So it's, it really has done a lot to, in terms of creating more of a sense of equilibrium.

[00:37:22] It's not perfect, but it all translates back to the office. So you're absolutely right. Yeah, so it steps 

[00:37:27] Amanda: forward. Absolutely. What do you see as the next big shifts in internal communications? The next five to 10 years? What should we be 

[00:37:35] Leslie: prepared for? I think we have to be prepared for communication to not be only.

[00:37:41] Conventional owners that there's a, the whole communications shift that's happened in general is absolutely outrageous. And it's not over that. The technology plus communications model, you know, the fact that, that now you can talk to people without ever seeing them with [00:38:00] ever, ever speaking to them. Most people I know of a certain generation and sometimes.

[00:38:04] Me too. I'd much rather text than talk. So, and texting has its own shorthand has its own social code and has its own sense of, you know, what etiquette is. So how we communicate to one another has been absolutely revolutionized by our access to technology. So how do we. Create this new correct balance, especially with this new hybrid flexible model that most companies are embracing.

[00:38:29] How do we really think about this differently in terms of reaching people? When most people only want to consume information in short bites in, in, you know, like the whole vine model. I know Vine's not a thing anymore, but, but that, that kind of variation. Condensed, you know, Twitter statements. It's, it's like a, it's an idea.

[00:38:47] It's not an, it's not a speech. Uh, people don't read whole books, they read Synopsys or they read a Netflix version or they watch a Netflix version of it. So, so I feel that the technological advancements. [00:39:00] Happening at such a rapid rate that within organizations, we have to be prepared also that, that you, you don't control the message at all the same way.

[00:39:09] And one of the ways that I've observed this a lot, especially over the last five or so years is the fact that internal communications is the same thing as external communications and vice versa. It used to be really two very clear, separate, distinct areas. And now you have to be prepared that whatever you say internally becomes almost immediately external and vice versa.

[00:39:30] Yeah, so I can go up on 

[00:39:31] Amanda: social media instantly. Well, this isn't a question, Leslie, but I just want to point out, you know, I saw that you had, you did a speaking engagement yesterday and you'd posted something that a student had sent you. Um, and you'd mentioned in what you, you you've mentioned about that.

[00:39:47] Sometimes you'll have students say that they want to be you when they grow up and you say, well, I just, I want them to be their best selves, but I disagree. I think the world could use a lot more Leslie's out there. Um, [00:40:00] you know, with, with their, you know, individual features. But I think you're right. Leader a great example of a good communicator and a, and a wonderful human beings.

[00:40:08] So I want to thank you for joining me today. Um, but before I let you go, uh, let people know where they can find you on LinkedIn or anywhere else where they can connect with you. And if there's any other piece of advice you'd want to put out for our listeners, please, this would be 

[00:40:24] a 

[00:40:24] Leslie: great time to do it.

[00:40:25] Well, I'm Leslie Quinten, L E Q U I N T O N on both Twitter and LinkedIn. And I definitely accept invitations to connect on, on LinkedIn. So not a problem. If I were to give any words of advice, I do have a couple of mantras that I try to remind. I used to remind my students when I was teaching. And I also tell my, my team members is that it's you need to, you know, the common one that you always hear is choose your battles.

[00:40:50] In other words, don't burn out your camp. Really make sure that thing you're fighting for, is it really matter? And, and, you know, kind of corral your [00:41:00] resources because in communications, in particular, and especially in community employee communications, we're going to be pulled in so many directions. So just really, you know, fight the good fight for the things that are worth fighting for, but let go of the rest because sometimes it really doesn't matter and that's not, what's going to make you stand out.

[00:41:16] But the last. The real last thing that I also say, and that I want to maybe leave you with is, is that it's never wrong to do the right thing. I know, I think, I think maybe even Ted lasso had that in his, in his show, but it was something that one of my bosses said to me when I was going through a major, major crisis.

[00:41:33] And I think what happens is. In communications, you can easily doubt your competence from the perspective that everybody thinks. They know how to communicate. Everybody can write a memo. Everyone has an opinion on how you should say something. I see it every single day. I've stopped taking offense to it a long time ago.

[00:41:51] If you do what you know is right, if you do what you know is both the, the issue of integrity is going to be the most useful is [00:42:00] the most well thought out the most strategic. Thoughtful and the most compassionate thing, then you're, you're gonna, you're just gonna succeed. So just have confidence in yourself.

[00:42:09] And I promise that in the end, you know, there's a little bit of karma baby in there, but in the end it will always serve you right to when you do the right. 

[00:42:18] Amanda: Yeah, that's such a great call. I'm glad you said that. I once took a job for a VP because during the job interview, he said to me, integrity, Trump's rules.

[00:42:28] And I actually wrote that on my whiteboard. And I used to, I used to have it up because that's such a good reminder, then monitor what the rules are in your company, your integrity, Trump's stuff. Those are, if you do the right thing, that's all that matters. So, Leslie, thank you so much for joining me today.

[00:42:43] This has been really enjoyable and, um, yeah. Thank you very much. 

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