You have arrived, Episode 8 of our Origin Story series, each week we will give you a glimpse into the super heroes of the Canadian public relations industry who have gotten into the business, learned the craft and the ones behind some amazing brands and campaigns.
In our eighth episode we talk with Lexi Pathak, Vice President & Partner at Faulhaber Communications [TCO].
Think back to your teenage days, what did you think you’d be doing today?
- As a teenager I was obsessed with Fashion Television. I wanted desperately to have Jeanne Beker’s job! I even applied for an internship in high school, but they declined as they only accepted University students. I could think of nothing more amazing than traveling around the world and reporting on the top fashion designers, cultural events and trends. Although I ended up on the other side of the camera, I did get many opportunities to work with Jeanne Beker and Glen Baxter and the Fashion Television team. It was such a great show – they should bring it back!
Three career moments that got you here?
I went to J-school at Concordia in their graduate studies program, as originally I really wanted to be in journalism. When I got out of school I took a contract job in writing and research for a documentary series with Muse Entertainment in Montreal. At the end of the contract they offered me a full-time job as publicity assistant. Fresh out of school I was happy for any job and so took it and that shifted my career trajectory. Unit PR is an amazing job and I still think fondly of my time there and would love to work on a production again.
Before Faulhaber, I worked for CBC for THE HOUR for a season as the show’s publicist. I loved the energy and the commitment that goes into production and working directly with George and the crew producing THE HOUR was a fabulous lesson in tenacity, collaboration and team work. The daily pitch meeting taught me that there is no bad idea and I try to encourage that thinking with our team today. I meet Lindsay Singer, who works at Faulhaber, when I was managing the show’s Made In Canada TIFF lounge. She introduced me to Christine, which ended up with my job at Faulhaber.
I’ve been at Faulhaber for almost 10 years, which is a very long time in the agency world – sort of like dog years. There is many unforgettable moments over that time so it is hard to define only one. One memory that stands out was in 2015 when Christine was on vacation and I ended up pitching and winning Charlotte Tilbury on my own with another colleague. At that time Christine was involved in all the pitches so that was a huge for me in terms of confidence and leadership building. I always loved working on the Design Exchange’s annual fundraiser DXI, those parties were so dynamic. Working on Interior Design Show for so many years taught me about working on projects of scale and moving parts. Managing the agency’s foray into cannabis was interesting and very memorable and I love working in the space. Last year we launched FSTOP Studios to focus on content development and evolve the business with new service offerings as we continue to grow our digital team. And then of course, becoming partner in 2017 was a noteworthy achievement.
When did you know you wanted to work in this industry?
I thought I would stay in entertainment PR but when I started at Faulhaber in 2010 I realized how much I love agency life. In my first three months I was working on a fashion week client, managing the Interior Design Show, working with a global skin care brand, and helping write pitch decks. I loved the multi-tasking and exposure to different verticals. I’ve been approached and debated in-house roles in the past, but the dynamic pace of agency is something I have just really enjoyed.
Tell me about your first campaign:
- One of the first campaigns that I ideated and implemented at Faulhaber was with Fidelity Denim. At the time red jeans were trending. I suggested the brand launch Dedicated Denim, a red charity jean that donated to a charity that would align to World AIDs day in December. We negotiated the partnership with Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, drafted the press release and quickly launched the campaign. We had incredible media support as the product lent itself well to the holiday gifts that give back angle. If I can find a way to give back or help brands define purpose it really feels like a personal achievement.
How are you a better leader today vs when you first came in?
Some leadership skills are inherent, but most of them are learned. I learned early leadership skills through sports growing up. Now, as VP at Faulhaber, I’ve learned through hands-on experience including times I’ve gotten it right and times I’ve gotten it wrong. I also think professional development courses are important and then also really trying to listen to feedback from the team. I am constantly working on being a better leader, as I believe that is something that should never stop improving. I recently went to Summit in LA, which was a great opportunity to engage and converse with some of the best leaders in the world.
What would you do differently if you could do it all over again?
- Nothing. Everything that I have done has brought me here and taught me valuable lessons.
What’s your management style?
- I’m collaborative and try to give my team the space to make their own decisions and try new things. I trust the team will get it done and make the right decisions to do so. Of course, I also trust them to turn to me when they need help.
Who is your nemesis?
- I am a Scorpio, so I am my own worst nemesis!
What have you learned this year so far that will be game changing in the next year?
- We are evolving our services and currently executing Chinese marketing on social platforms like Weibo and Wechat and expanding service offering with more paid digital advertising from social to google ads. With the changing industry it’s a must to drive new revenue streams and grow digital services.
Tell me about a time when you had to overcome a major obstacle that stood in the way of you accomplishing a goal or commitment. How did you approach the situation?
- This was a major obstacle and also a major accomplishment, but adjusting to being a working mother was definitely a challenge. I went back to work very quickly and so it was challenging to deal with being a new mother and all the experiences tied to that, while trying to continue to be a strong contributor at the agency. There may have been a few tears along the way the first time but I quickly adjusted to pumping in a closed room while sending emails, trying to be as proactive and time efficient as possible to manage everything in an 8 hour window, and then switching gears to be mom at the end of the day. The second time around was much easier as I knew what to expect.
Do you have a theme song?
- It’s not necessarily a theme song, but the other day in the playground my 4 year-old was on the monkey bars repeating to herself “Never stop, never give up.” I feel like that is definitely my mantra so it was hilarious to hear her say it.
What is the most challenging part of your role? What is your favorite part of what you do?
- The most challenging and the best part of my job is working with the team. I get inspired by the energy, ideas and perspective the next generation brings. The challenge, and this is pretty much across all industries when I talk to any leaders, is that people management take a lot of work and dedication and something always comes up. We’ve worked really hard at Faulhaber to improve our employee experience, from monthly people meetings, to incredible benefits like over 5-weeks of vacation, to trying to encourage a work/life balance. The best part though is watching people evolve, grow and achieve great success. I have kept in contact with many former team mates over the years and so many of them are doing amazing things.
We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more—with less. Tell us about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
- We are super focused on digital transformation at Faulhaber. We are in the midst of implementing WorkBook, an agency management software that will integrate time tracking, project management, finance, productivity and manage budgets all in one program.
What is your finish line?
- If only I had a crystal ball…. All I can say to that, is that at the end of my career I hope that I have made an impact with the team and the clients I have worked with, that I have worked on incredible campaigns and projects, that I have continued to help Faulhaber grow, and that I did it all while managing to prioritize my family.
If you woke up on a dessert island tomorrow, what are the first 3 things you would do?
- Take a dip in the ocean
- Build a sandcast
- Explore the island
What’s your favourite non-professional activity?
- Building forts and playing hide and seek with my kids.