Beatrice Speisser, Chief Transformation Officer, Havas Village France, explains the newly created role, and her strategy when it comes to accelerating transformation for Havas clients.
Can you tell us about the role of Chief Transformation Officer?
My role is dedicated to understanding and analysing our clients’ transformation challenges and consequently to create and implement solutions to help them accelerate these transformations. To be more specific, there are two pillars in my mission. The first pillar is our relationships with our clients. We realised that in our business, we always look to our competitors, what they are doing, the new offers they’re creating, the tools they’re using… but we don’t pay very much attention to our own clients.
We need to change that: become more client centric, more client obsessed. Listen to them, what they’re saying and what they’re not saying, understand what their problems, nightmares, ambitions and frustrations are, to create a stronger, deeper relationship with them. The second pillar is to create more accurate and more ergonomic solutions to address their needs. I’m not talking about offers, I’m talking about solutions. The difference is important to understand the change of mindset that we want to engage. We have to move from a service provider who wants to sell their offers, to a partner who understands their clients’ problems. In other words, to shift from an offer to a demand mindset.
The role of Chief Transformation Officer is newly created, why was there a need for this position?
Transformation has become a buzz word for our clients, and covers a set of very different, yet connected areas: their purpose, digitalisation, reduction of their carbon impact, automation of their processes. This role was created because it was our worry that our clients did not consider their communication agency as potential partners to help them transform. As a matter of fact, 70% of major transformations fail because there is a lack of commitment from stakeholders. To address this, you need communication. Our role has never been as important as it is today.
What are some of the biggest transformation challenges faced by Havas clients?
Our clients are facing three major transformations. One transformation is related to the green and purpose revolution, another one is related to their way of doing commerce and digitalisation. The third is related to their processes and organisation. I think the Havas model is particularly well suited to help them address these challenges. Our meaningful vision really reconciles what were considered polar opposites before; doing good vs making money, short-term business results vs long-term vision.
Because our Village model shows that, as an organisation, we can address transformation and its complexities. The difficulty is that everything is completely interconnected; you must align your purpose transformation and your commerce transformation. With the Havas village we can act as a catalyst that builds tailor-made, hyper-bundled solutions and teams to match this complexity and fit their needs. Because we are deeply connected to the final consumer. Our cortex (i.e. the integrated strategic planning department), and our proprietary tools such as the Meaningful Brands research, help us deeply build our thinking from the final customer. Finally, we are in the business of ideas and there is nothing more efficient than ideas to accelerate change and make things happen.
Tell us about your career, what drew you to the industry? What do you love about it?
I was very lucky to begin my career working for the French Ministry of Health on the most interesting topics: health education campaigns to fight HIV/AIDS, addiction to tobacco, alcohol, and drugs. At that time communication was one of the only means of fighting disease and addiction: as an example, there was no medication to fight HIV/AIDS, only preventative measures like condoms. For this we had to be very creative and innovative and find new ways of engaging with our targets, new ways of talking to them.
We invented things that did not even have names at that time such as brand content, media partnership, UGC (user generated content). I was very lucky but also very frustrated because I realised that the place where ideas were imagined was in agencies, so I decided to move to an advertising agency, before moving into more integrated agency models such as Havas. For the last ten years, I’ve worked a lot on new business. I like the fight (and I like to win)! I think that new business is both the heart and the lungs of agencies, it’s where it all begins, where the tempo is set, where new ways of working are invented. My new role as Chief Transformation Officer is nothing but a new way of doing new business.