Welcome to Season 3 of our series This Is How I Get It DONE, where we take a moment to interview members of the PR In Canada & Profectio community members to find out more about the person behind the desk, how they got their start, their current role (and everything in between). For our second episode of Season 3 we talked to Katia Robillard Vice President and General Manager at Citoyen (Citizen Relations Canada).
As Vice President and General Manager at Citizen (Citoyen), I look for ways to creatively lead and inspire our team in Quebec. We work hard and play hard too! I think it is very important to connect with the teams, find ways to thank them for their work while still maintaining a healthy and productive work environment.
One word to describe
Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I started my career in advertising, working on the client side. A few months into the job, I found myself constantly looking for more challenges which, in time, allowed me to start negotiating everything that had to do with visibility and media partner deals. In 2002, in order to jazz things up a bit and to break what had come to feel like a routine, I then transitioned to another advertising job, but one that was more sales-oriented, at a radio station. The same year, I came across a job posting for a small PR firm that was located on Montreal’s South Shore and joined their team, not really knowing what I had gotten myself into. In the beginning, I worked on fashion, beauty, tourism, real estate and food-related accounts, then tackled all kinds of consumer and corporate PR. And here it is: the genesis of my love story with PR. I worked on the agency side for 8 years before joining Citizen.
As a born intrapreneur, I introduced the public relations marketing practice to Citizen when I joined the agency nine years ago. I humbly shared my managerial skills and talents with the agency, first working as an account director before climbing the ladder to fill positions as vice president, chief of operations, and now head of the Quebec team.
What is a typical workday like for you?
Every workday is unique in an agency setting and that is why I have been working in PR firms for the past 17 years. I would say that Mondays start every week with an executive meeting followed by a team meeting. This is where we communicate our Citizen news and share our priorities. After that, during the week, I could be involved in strategic planning, PR pitch, do a conference, take part in a brainstorming session with the team, be on clients meetings, work on our business projections or again support all our different Citizen committees (social, visibility, lunch & learn).
What made you choose a career in public relations?
I had originally planned a career in law, made a brief foray into the world of fashion and advertising before fully devoting myself to public relations. I always say that PR chose me instead of me choosing a job in PR.
When I started my career in communications, I was interested by everything and wanted to try different jobs related to the field. This is why I worked in advertising before PR. One crucial thing in my career is that I need to keep learning every day. Working in an agency is amazing as I get to work on many accounts at the same time, on different subjects going from fashion to technology. It is also an industry in constant transformation that requires us to be creative and reactive. Being part of a holding such as Vision 7 International, one thing that amazes me is the level of creativity present in the building:There’s a lot of creativity per square footage! I find that very stimulating.
What was a moment in your career that really helped define how you work today?
When I worked in retail advertising, I was in charge of a lot of promotional print materials and was already very detailed oriented about each piece that went past the production line. Come to think of it, that might actually explain my eagle eye!
How do you balance family-work?
As a leader, I encourage my team to have a balance family-work and I am the first one to take time off for myself. Also, with PR practitioners being ultra-connected these days, one thing remains essential to me: we all need some time off. I’m a strong believer in the “work hard, play hard” philosophy. When you work in PR, you have to set some time aside to relax, unwind, take a step back and allow yourself to truly disconnect and rather connect with whatever stimulates you. Creativity is core in our practice and you can’t be creative if you’re not rested or inspired.
As an example, I concentrate all the work during the week which gives me the opportunity to enjoy the weekend, recharge my battery and take a step back. It helps me to be more creative and focus. It works for me!
I also love to travel a few times per year. I always have my future trip in mind. One of my rules: When I am on vacation, my phone is off.
9-5 is LONG gone, what is one shortcut or life hack that works for you?
Work-life balance sounds like a cliché, but this is something I firmly believe in! Working in an agency makes it a somewhat unusual environment where days are never quite the same. We can go through very intense periods, but whenever things calm down a bit, I make it a point to make them most of them as they never last!