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Words about words, brands, names and naming, and the creative process.

#sparkchamber 010719 — Philippe Gaudet

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The calendar page is turned and resolutions are set, but #sparkchamber made sure to save plenty of room for dessert, welcoming Canadian, Franco-Ontarian, Métis, relentless optimist, liberal, Xennial, dad, and branded-food marketer Philippe Gaudet.

With a family that arrived in Canada over 400 years ago [concurrent with Samuel Champlain’s passage from France and establishment of the French settlement that is now Quebec City, Canada] there are few that have deeper roots — born in Thunder Bay, growing up in southern Ontario, and studying in Toronto and Sudbury. Grounded, yet traveling extensively, Philippe discovered his great love of food, taking it a step further: “Helping people eat well is a passion that I have turned into a career.”

Part of the team that pioneered ACE Bakery from a small, fresh-bread bakery to a multinational brand available in all classes of trade, he then moved to La Rocca Creative Cakes in sales and marketing. This family-owned, artisanal creator of handcrafted desserts was established in Canada in 1986, but was built on a tradition of dessert-making that began in Naples, Italy. The family’s passion for the art of baking inspired the many original and unique recipes still used today.

Obsessed with building a winning culture, Philippe is currently working to drive the business by leveraging its unique core competencies across quality-starved markets in the USA, while being relentlessly focused on building a brand that generates organic growth in core Canadian markets. 

Feast your eyes on Instagram @laroccacakes and @gaudetphil, and see Philippe’s full bio on LinkedIn.

1.] Where do ideas come from?

As a collaborative leader, creating forums for team members of all levels to contribute is a passion. This collaborative process extends to expecting the team to solicit trade partners, customers, and consumers. 

2.] What is the itch you are scratching?

An innovation pipeline. Product development is the lifeblood of a growing company and we must invest to grow. This extends to customer initiatives [beyond new products] to test new channels.

Upon arrival at La Rocca, I quickly assessed that many of the team members hadn’t failed recently. This is a symptom of a risk-intolerant culture. Instilling a culture inspired by a baseball anecdote has resonated: if a baseball player hits 3 times out of 10 times at bat, they go to the hall of fame. This clearly established my desire for the team to take calculated risks going forward.

The next step in this process is to own failure and debrief to avoid mistakes and maintain a risk-tolerant growth mindset. We do not play the blame game.

3.] Early bird or night owl? Tortoise or hare?

Work never stops. Promoting my brands, commercializing, and dreaming about the next adventure is a passion that runs my life seven days a week. 

With a partner that is just as passionate about her career, we make time for family and prioritize it.

I surround myself with a mix of analytical assassins and creative spirits who are all very competitive and high-energy. Clear delineation of responsibilities prevents micro-management and big-picture thinking/achieving.

This aspirational life plan and team building are not for everyone. But it’s a lot of fun when you align with the right people.

4.] How do you know when you are done?

Great question. It’s tempting to move fast as the pipeline is always loaded with ideas that can drain bandwidth. Generally, in my seat as a Vice President, the key is to work to a 12-month to 3-year lead time. Once it windows into sub-12 months, it transitions to my teams for management and reporting. 

A key alignment process that I am very consistent about is a weekly collaborative team report. It’s a Google document that encourages mass collaboration and it makes it very difficult for unexploited opportunities to be missed by the entire team.

Another critical tool for my team of high achievers is Asana. Socializing project management has been a big win to enable a small team to punch above its weight class. 

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