Women across Canada are kicking butt in the workforce, all while maintaining their cool and doing the things in life they enjoy. “Monday Motivation: How she does it” is a news series where we profile notable women working in various fields to find out how they juggle work-life, balance. For this installment, we spoke with Evelyne Ouellet - President of Safira Entertainment. Evelyne was born in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and moved to California in 2011 and later started her own business in 2012 where she now lives in Hermosa Beach and works in Manhattan Beach. Read on to find out her story.
In a nutshell, can you tell me what you do?
I’m the president of a marketing consulting company called Safira Entertainment based in Los Angeles, California. I deploy branding strategies, business positioning, marketing plans and digital media in the film, TV, video games and live entertainment industries. I also organize international executive events, based on themes such as innovation, creativity and leadership. When I'm not at work, I'm a mom and I also sit on the board of the Maman Dion Foundation, as well as on the board of UCLA International Studies for Canada.
So what does a typical day look like for you starting from the moment you wake up?
I love to wake up early both during the week and on the weekend. I'm connected almost as soon as I wake up as I work with a lot of people on the east coast (Montreal & NYC). I like to have time in the morning to plan my day. It's peaceful and I feel good. I keep active 5 to 6 days a week: swimming, cycling or running. I love grabbing breakfast with my husband and my daughter. This is our daily family meal during weekdays, this way, no stress to synchronize supper! We always see each other in the evening but without the pressure of having to eat at the same time. On a typical day, I have to be flexible and work according to the day's priorities: Work, family and travel. In the evening, as soon as I feel tired, boom, I go to bed. I very rarely fight sleep. I sleep 7 to 8 hours and then I'm ready to get to it the next day!
What are some of the challenges you face as a business woman?
Having my own business has its benefits, such as a more flexible schedule spread over 7 days, the freedom to choose the people I work with, the very interesting files and tons of variety. I find it difficult not to belong to a team, however. Being a consultant means always working from the outside. I feel a certain professional loneliness and I sometimes miss my days working for big TV, radio and entertainment companies. I'm a woman who likes to be challenged and who likes to be part of a team!
How do you overcome these challenges?
I have been working with some people for years, they're competent people and I personally love them. I opt for relationships of trust, both on the client side and on the supplier side. A good professional example is with Cirque du Soleil, an exceptional global brand where I have incredible associates. It's more than work. Also I work with a virtual reality company from Los Angeles called Big Picture Entertainment that has creativity beyond your imagination. I meet exceptional people and I am very grateful.
How do you juggle work-life balance?
The word balance makes me nervous! As if I know in advance that I will dodge a bullet. So I prefer to think of the term "priorities" instead. This way, I focus on the positive and I can adapt at all times. I easily delegate what provides little added value to me, such as housekeeping and all the laundry. It's a choice. Unfortunately in Quebec, getting help with responsibilities that bore us (note that they are not the same for everyone) is not part of the mentality. Give us the right to organize or stop complaining. We have more choice than we think! Also, my spouse is very present and involved naturally. We really make a great team and our 12-year-old daughter is exceptional. My mother comes to see us three times a year and it's a family gift every time to bring the generations together.
How do you like to unwind?
It's definitely staying active, the beach, the outdoors. I do triathlons, travel as a couple, family and friends. We've completed five half Ironmans at various locations around the world and three complete Ironmans - 3.8 km of swimming, 180 km of bike and 42.2 km of race - in one day. Our daughter also swims competitively and is going to do a test for a black belt in taekwondo in October. We encourage each other with "Bravos". We help each other. And when it's time to relax, I realize I don't take much time. One or two hours and I'm ready to get back into action! Friends remain my number 1 choice to unwind. I am exceptionally well surrounded and for me, staying social is my mental balance.
Choose one: wine or cocktails?
Vino all the way! Our race group is called "Wine & Cheese running team"! We're all the rage on the Strand (California Board Walk) with our team t-shirts. I also like cocktails, but over a period of several hours, the wine seems less deceptive. Champagne, white wine, red wine: everything is good!
What is the best advice you have ever received?
The best advice comes from people who tell me that I will not succeed. It motivates me to do my best. Thanks to the pessimists! This was the case for our successful move to California in 2011, to start my business in California in 2012, to get our green cards in 2014 and to complete Ironmans since 2013. I’m an ordinary woman, I just persevere very much when it matters to me!
Where do you like to stay when you visit Montreal?
Every time I come to Montreal for work, I stay at the Hotel Le Germain Montreal. The experience is outstanding and the team is amazing. When I’m not working, on the weekends, I visit and stay with friends and family in Montreal.
How would you define success?
Success for me is to be happy. Quite simply. Everything that people try to accomplish or be is usually to be happy, each in their own way. If you can spend the maximum amount of time in a day or a week doing activities that you love, you will certainly succeed. It's our life. We must make our own decisions.
Do you know someone we should feature in this segment? Send an email to Jennifer@picoum.com.
This article has been edited and condensed for clarity.