Inside / Project Manager @Montreal

Welcome to the first edition of Inside Index. Every two weeks, we will be inviting you to discover our agency through exclusive interviews with our experts.

This week we interview our Project Manager at Index Montreal. We hereby present to you Manon.

Z does not mean an end for me

Manon Saint-Ellier, originally from France, started at Index nearly 2 years ago. Newly arrived in Montreal after 3 years of experience in project management, Manon meets Jeremy, our agency’s founder, who offers her the opportunity to become the project manager at Index. From initial brief to project kick-off, she oversees the entire team and is in charge of building and maintaining a relationship of trust with the client throughout a project. As Manon puts it, “the goal is to create true relationships with our clients.” For Manon, being a project manager is above all being responsible for coordinating the smooth running of projects from A to Z. “This job is at a central crossroads intersecting with all departments at Index: sales, strategy, production, billing.”

A mix of democratic and collegial leadership

The managerial grid model developed by Blake & Mouton identifies five leadership styles: dictatorial, paternalistic, accommodating (sometimes called democratic), team (also known as collegial), and indifferent. Manon’s management vision for Index is a combination of two styles. “Leadership calls for making decisions. I think I’m a mix of democratic and collegial. Democratic for the human aspect, which is very important to me. Collegial, for the team spirit it generates and for the fact that there aren’t really hierarchical differences in Canada.”

Clients come to me with their questions, sometimes challenging, and I want to be sure I can understand and communicate the expert judgment

For Manon, every opinion matters. Dealing with experts in a field as precise and advanced as web marketing requires making room for each one. “If an expert assures me that we have proposed the best solution, I accord that more importance. I can ask our experts questions and challenge them because I may myself be challenged by clients with particular questions and I want to be sure I can understand and communicate the expert judgment.” Also, it is essential for Manon to be able to convey an expert’s opinion clearly to a client who is not necessarily familiar with web marketing vocabulary or with our ecosystem. Educational skills are always useful!

Ideas from interns can advance our work processes and procedures

In an agency, there are always interns, as well as experts with more experience. It’s not always easy to evaluate everyone’s opinions, decisions, and suggestions. Manon always focuses on the individual ability of employees to distinguish themselves and to propose notable initiatives. She finds it is important to value them. “An expert’s opinion will necessarily be given priority because experts have experience. They have the final word in the decision-making process with the client. However, I listen to all suggestions. Essentially, ‘intern’ is just a job title. It’s not always representative of a person’s potential. Interns may have learned a lot during their studies, other internships, or professional experiences.”

A multicultural team is valuable for a company

Index has 20 employees, interns, and contractual workers in 4 different cities (Montreal, Toronto, São Paulo, and Bordeaux). Manon manages the team at the Montreal offices but also coordinates with project managers in São Paulo and Toronto to ensure consistency and coherence for projects that cross geographical boundaries. Index Montreal is a Franco-Quebec team, the language may be similar but the French culture and the Quebecois culture are profoundly different. “You have to be careful because each culture has its particular ways, the different uses of ‘tu’ and ‘vous’ for example. It’s good to elicit everyone’s opinions and to pay attention to the way certain terms are used. For instance, as a French woman new to Montreal, there are certain things that I couldn’t put into place as I did in France. So, we have to try to understand the culture around us, the culture of the clients but also of the employees.”

It’s time to prove myself!

The life of a project manager is filled with challenges and specific cases that you need to know how to deal with, whatever the cost. Manon remembers one particular challenge she had to confront during her time at Index. “I manage projects for a wide range of industries. To feel comfortable with all of them is a real challenge. Some are always easier to relate to than others. In industries such as the automotive or engineering sectors, for example, there are a lot of prejudices. These are male-dominated industries in which the leaders are very experienced. At meetings, that can be intimidating. But I always tell myself, they’re all listening to you right now, it’s time to show your expertise. So that’s what I do every time! I like the feeling of proving myself to clients, but also to my own self.”

What makes the success of a project? The client relationship!

With over 600 mandates to our credit, there have been an array of clients, projects, successes, and failures. Manon is very pragmatic about the ebb and flow of agency life and treats all clients in the same way. “You can have a large, fascinating project, but if there’s no trust in the agency-client relationship, the project will be less pleasant to manage. When there are difficulties, though, that also makes the project challenging and more interesting because you have to establish that relationship.”

“You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see the plan through to the end.” (Sydney Friedman)

Manon doesn’t just like a project once it’s completed! “It’s like a book. You start reading it and you don’t want to turn the last page because it’s such a beautiful story that you don’t want it to end.”

Communication. Effectiveness. Organization.

Communication is the key asset for Manon. It is obviously important to understand digital marketing in the first place, but it is essential to know how to communicate on a regular basis, to have the right information, and to tailor it for the intended audience, all while maintaining clarity and precision. In Manon’s words, “the project manager is the voice Index.” The project manager oversees more than twenty active projects at the same time. Concretely, that means many emails sent and received daily several team meetings and client meetings in a week, and countless phone calls in a day. Flexibility is required because “large parts of this job are hard to foresee!” In other words, expect the unexpected.

Monitoring, analysis, training, optimization, and constant evolution: the secrets to high performance

The primary goal of the agency is to achieve the best possible results. At the beginning of each mandate, we define which metrics to observe and improve. Tracking objectives are what allows us to optimize our SEO strategy and our web campaigns.

We analyze visitor sessions to understand how they behave on our clients’ websites. We value client satisfaction above all. Every week we study results and optimize where we can. We also produce comprehensive reports that allow our clients to visualize their results as they evolve. They are the basis of lasting relationships with clients. We aspire to be leaders in our sector. For that, we continually train ourselves, we consistently reassess, and we constantly keep watch.

As the project manager, I always have to make sure that all terms of a mandate are respected!

Very few mandates are not renewed, which bodes well for the agency!

“I can understand when clients start with a short-term project because they don’t yet know our agency. The duration of a mandate also depends on the type of project. Obviously,  we build a stronger foundation when working on a long-term project but our interest (both for the client and the agency) is, and will remain, to propose the best possible strategy and to optimize within the first weeks in order to reach the desired results quickly.”

– A question from Arianne, Director of Administration at Index –

Tell us about a situation in which you had to deal with an emergency, something which would not usually be part of your daily duties?

“It was a Friday night and a big problem came up concerning tracking. Some events were not being tracked properly and it had to be fixed before Monday. I was at the gym when I got the notification, so I went home and contacted Jeremy. He was in Brazil at the time and jet lagged.  So we exchanged messages, he worked on the problem, and we settled everything in time. The next morning, I checked again that everything was fine. That’s what I call great teamwork!

See you in 2 weeks for the next edition of Inside Index, the only blog giving you behind-the-scenes insights into the life of an agency specializing in web marketing!