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A Final Reflection on My #CEO1Month Experience

In September, Olivia Poulin, Canada’s 2018 CEO for One Month winner, was selected as a top 10 finalist for the Adecco Group’s Global CEO for One Month competition. She traveled to London, England to participate in the 3-day Global Bootcamp with 9 other finalists from across the world — and eventually made it to the top 5! Here, she shares her final reflection on her Global CEO for One Month experience.

Selection Process

During the month I shadowed Adecco Canada President Gilbert Boileau, I also completed a series of weekly challenges for the global CEO for One Month competition. These challenges — including personality tests, preparing a competitor analysis report and presenting my innovation project — tested my skills and let me demonstrate some of the things I was learning. It was these challenges, plus an interview with the Adecco Global Team, that were used to select the top 10 finalists out of 47 country CEOs to participate in the global CEO for One Month Bootcamp in London, England.

The night before the announcement, I hardly slept. Watching the Facebook Live announcement with my family at 6:30 a.m., we anxiously waited for The Adecco Group CEO Alain Dehaze to announce the lucky 10. We held our breath as he said, “then we travel across the ocean to… Canada: Olivia Poulin”. We exploded with joy! You can check out the video here. I was in shock but thrilled — and I had just 4 days to prepare for my trip to England!

Bootcamp, Day 0 – September 17th, 2018

Yes, it’s called Day 0! On Monday, all the finalists started arriving at the hotel. The first person I met was Beatrice Partain from Sweden. We went to her favourite chocolate shop and explored the streets of London while we waited for the others. It didn’t feel like I was meeting anyone for the first time; I felt like I had known these friends my entire life! As everyone continued to arrive, we spent lots of time talking and getting to know each other better. Then, we gathered to be introduced to the jury (the team that would evaluate our challenges and decide who would become Global CEO for One Month), play some ice breaker games, and get an idea for how the week would work. We went to dinner as a group and I finally got to hear more about the incredible lives and experiences of my fellow finalists. What impressive people they are!

Get to know everyone with these CEO for One Month Bootcamp videos.

Bootcamp, Day 1 – September 18th, 2018

Showtime! On Day 1, we walked to a business incubator where most of our activities over the next few days would take place. Challenge 1 was playing a “game” on our phones that would judge our strategizing capabilities and emotional intelligence. Then we had an Adecco Group X session with a presentation by Christian Howes, a social media and big data expert. He brought a lot of energy to the room and taught us about how data is used to tailor media to specific consumers and how social media can be used to predict outcomes of real world events. After that, we participated in a virtual reality challenge using Google’s Tilt Brush program (basically Microsoft Paint, but for VR). In teams, one person wore the headset while the others described what they had to draw based on a photo they were looking at. It was tough listening to many voices providing instructions all at once, drawing in 3D and learning to use the system all at the same time, but it helped all of us improve our communication skills and teamwork.

After a quick lunch, we had 1 hour to prepare our innovation projects and 5 minutes to present to the finalists and the jury. Personally, I loved this challenge because I was so passionate about my idea for my innovation project and I enjoy presenting. I was super impressed by everyone else’s ideas too. It was then that I realized how influential my 9 friends would be to the future of the world and business. For our third challenge of the day, we were put into teams and tasked with solving a data breach crisis. We had to explain how we would respond and what we would say to stakeholders and shareholders.

Next, we walked to a “surprise” destination: the LinkedIn London Office building. We watched a presentation about new LinkedIn products not yet available, went on a tour where we saw their incredible themed meeting rooms (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Candyland etc.) and workout facilities, and we learned about the culture of trust at LinkedIn.

It’s hard to believe that we managed to pack all of that into one day, but we did — and it was amazing. It felt like we had been together for a week already based on the strength of the relationships we had formed.

Bootcamp, Day 2 – September 19th, 2018

On Day 2, I had my first interview with the jury. It was certainly not like any other interview I’ve had: it was only 15 minutes and they asked us two very unconventional questions. After that we had some time for photos and videos, followed by a team lunch. Our fourth challenge at boot camp tasked us with pitching a startup by researching a new venture and giving a 5-minute presentation to the jury, Dragons’-Den-style. Challenge 5 was a roundtable discussion with David Malkinson, the Chief Marketing Officer of The Adecco Group for UK & Ireland. We discussed the role technology plays and would continue to play in the future of life and work.

After that, we walked to our dinner restaurant. We were shocked to see Alain Dehaze (Global CEO of the Adecco Group), Stephan Howeg (Global Chief Marketing & Communications Officer), Jake Schwartz (co-founder of General Assembly), Cynthia Hansen (Head of the Adecco Group Foundation) and others from the Adecco Group. We had the opportunity to talk with them and hear more about their work and wisdom, while also having the opportunity to tell them about our experiences. It was incredible to be in a room with such amazing leaders and people. Alain was there to provide input on who he thought should be in the top 5 in preparation for the announcement. After dinner, we returned to the hotel and waited for the CEO for One Month team to meet us. We gathered together in the dark room and anxiously waited to hear our names called for the top 5. My name was called first and I breathed a big sigh of relief while trying to contain my excitement! The other finalists were Miguel from Spain, Lisa from Germany, Yolian from the USA and Zoey from Singapore. As the final five, we were given instructions to prepare a 3-minute speech for the morning and told that we would have an interview with Alain Dehaze before the announcement. I returned to my room to FaceTime my family and share the exciting news. Messages of encouragement and support flooded in. It was amazing!

Bootcamp, Day 3 – September 20th, 2018

I woke up early to get ready and head to the final venue with Miguel, Lisa, Yolian and Zoey. We each had a 15-minute private interview with Alain Dehaze, and then had time to socialize with all who gathered for the final announcement. The event started and the final five had a few minutes to give their speeches and talk about what the program meant to each of us. It was a wonderful opportunity to address the group and show them the impact the program had on our lives. As Alain and Aly Sparks (Global Head of Talent Acquisition with the Adecco Group and President of the Jury) prepared to make the announcement, I stood with the other finalists on stage, eager to hear who it would be. Alain spoke highly of his selected candidate, and, when he announced the name of my friend Lisa Frommhold from Germany, I turned and gave her a big hug! I was so happy for her and believe she truly is so deserving.

While Lisa ran around London getting amazing photo and video shots for the announcement, the rest of the group used our precious few hours of remaining time in London to see the sights — Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Our last dinner together was emotional; we were all sad that we’d have to leave each other the next day, so we made the most of the evening by going dancing and staying up late to savour every minute together. Syed, the UK CEO for One Month, also joined us, and it was amazing to meet yet another talented friend.

Post-Bootcamp – Returning Home

The morning after the big announcement, everyone had scattered departure times. My heart honestly ached as I said my goodbyes and walked away from them to head to the airport. In Canada, my brother and sister picked me up in Toronto to drive me home to Niagara Falls. That’s when I realized just how quickly everything had happened and that — just like that — life would go right back to normal. The only difference was that I had changed. The things I learned, the people I met, the experiences I had — these things will stay with me forever.

Other Thoughts & Lessons Learned

I was so incredibly impressed by how wonderful the other 9 finalists are. Their ambitions, experiences and wisdom taught me a lot in the few days we spent together. Many of them had travelled or lived in other countries, spoke multiple languages, were studying impressive subjects in school, and were passionate about their hobbies and culture. We grew so close and shared many challenging experiences that strengthened our bond and I truly believe that we will be friends forever. I can’t wait to see how they will have a positive impact on whatever they choose to do with their lives.

The collaboration exhibited by the finalists was also impressive. Though we were all technically competing for spots in the Top 5 and wanted to be selected as Global CEO, not once did I see any jealousy or anyone being “too competitive” to outshine the others. We all encouraged each other to do our best and use our strengths to work together.

In the spirit of honesty, I will admit that I assumed that if I wasn’t selected as Global CEO for One Month that I would feel like I had failed or would feel disappointed in myself. I couldn’t believe how much the opposite was true. I was SO happy and excited for my friend Lisa that I didn’t even have time to think about myself. Interacting with her throughout the boot camp was always enjoyable, and her warm heart and stable leadership style were outstanding. As I reflected on how I felt after all the chaos of the announcement, I realized that I was not sad or disappointed — I was still so grateful and happy for the things I experienced and the people I met. I was proud to represent Canada and make it to the top 5. I couldn’t have asked for more from the program!

The Adecco Group truly does live by its values. These values resonated very strongly with me and are what made me want to participate in the program. Entrepreneurship, customer focus, responsibility, passion and team work were exemplified by each person that represented The Adecco Group. It is a forward-thinking company that wants to improve lives and shape the future of work for the better. I’m grateful to have seen firsthand the positive impact Adecco has around the world.

My favourite quote has always been: “Every single thing that has happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.” I love this quote because it reflects the importance of the journey in getting to where you are. None of us woke up one day and just became CEO for One Month top 10 finalists. We all had experiences to draw on that led us to that very moment. Starting a company, holding leadership positions at school, public speaking at my Church, suffering a major leg injury with a yearlong rehab, winning case competitions, struggling through classes I didn’t enjoy, shadowing other senior executives — all of these things gave me experiences worth talking about that shaped who I am and put me in a position to learn from this program. All that, plus a little bit of luck and good fortune! It all matters along the way.

This program changed my life and I want to spread the word to students across the world: apply to the CEO For One Month Program. You will learn and experience so much. Yes, it might feel like a shot in the dark… but somebody has to be selected. Why not you?

 

Olivia can be found on Instagram (@poulin09) and Twitter (@oliviapoulin).

Lessons Learned from Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month Program

By: Olivia Poulin

Adecco Canada #CEO1Month Olivia Poulin shares her experience of the CEO for One Month program and what she learned about business, leadership and herself. 

Jumping into a role at the top of an industry that you’re unfamiliar with means you will experience and learn a lot along the way. I consider myself a very adaptable person who happily adjusts to new environments, tasks and people. So to me, the CEO for One Month program was an exciting adventure — a whole new life for one month! I moved from Niagara Falls to my own apartment in downtown Toronto, took an Uber for the first time and walked to the store to buy groceries. I shadowed Adecco Canada CEO Gilbert Boileau and got to meet CEOs, directors, managers, recruiters and sales reps. I attended client meetings and dinners, visited branches and toured giant warehouses. I flew to Montreal and Ottawa for day trips, spent time shadowing recruiters and had lunch with new colleagues. I had many life chats and vibrant conversations with Gilbert as well as a variety of other managers. I spoke with candidates and associates about their experiences with Adecco and put together an hour and a half presentation for our senior leadership team for my last day. Needless to say, it was a lot to take in. In the rest of this blog, I’ve gathered some of my thoughts on my month at Adecco Canada so that others can learn from my experiences.

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Interested in Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month Program in 2019? Here’s what you need to know!

by Olivia Poulin, 2018 CEO One Month

Adecco Canada #CEO1Month Olivia Poulin shares her advice for what to expect from the CEO for One Month program.

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Why You Should Consider Applying To Be Our “CEO for One Month”

Are you a talented and ambitious young professional looking to jump-start your career? Want to see what the leadership of one of Canada’s top Workforce Solutions Providers really does all day? Then our “CEO for One Month” internship program was made for you. Read on to learn more about the program and how you can benefit from it.

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My First Week as Adecco Canada’s First CEO1Month

By Alana Couvrette

If you have 30 seconds….

During my first week as Adecco Canada’s CEO for One Month, I:
1. Visited Adecco’s Laval and Montreal branch
2. Networked with clients during the Lead breakfast
3. Asked the President of Adecco Canada probably over 100 questions
4. Filmed a 24 hour in my life video
5. Saw Cirque du Soleil’s Volta
6. And, spent half of my Sunday in an elevator (I am claustrophobic…details to come)

If you have five minutes…

Students, like myself, are well accustomed to seeing the workplace from the “bottoms up” point of view. Interaction with senior management is, to put it frankly, a rarity. During my past co-op terms, I remember vividly asking myself “Who’s up there” and “What do they do exactly”? Ultimately, it was my curiosity that led me to apply for the CEO for One Month contest.

On my first day, I learned that the new Canadian President had set himself an ambitious task: to visit all of Adecco’s branches in Canada during his first few months. So, naturally, I had to follow suit. I visited both the Laval and Montreal branches and met with the staff, who engage with associates on a day to day basis. These meetings proved to be fruitful, as I left with a greater understanding of what Adecco does at the ground level “the foundation of its business”. This was nicely complemented by the Lēad breakfast, where I got to network with some of our clients and got a feel for the HR Industry.

After our branch visits, I had the opportunity to see Cirque du Soleil’s (one of our largest clients) Volta performance. The things that the human body can do baffles me! I can’t even touch my toes and here I was watching people put their feet behind their heads. After this performance, I realized that I must find a way to squeeze in some exercise in my CEO schedule. I did, however, find the time to strap on a GoPro to my head, in the hopes of filming a “24 hours in my day” video. Stay tuned for the result!

Of course, I also spent a lot of time with Gilbert Boileau, Adecco Canada President. From the moment, I stepped into his office, I found myself already working on a project. My intuition told me, right then and there, that a great month was to come. I sat in on phone calls, attended meetings and traveled with Gilbert. However, what I enjoyed the most was the time we had in between meetings and phone calls. Coming from a public administration and political science background, some business terms were unfamiliar and Gilbert kindly took the time to explain them to me. We also took part in engaging discussions (is it fair to say debates) on the talent industry, the job market and even politics.

As you may or may not know, although I have been selected as the 2017 Adecco Canada CEO for One Month, I am also in the running towards becoming the Adecco Groups’ Global Leadership CEO for One Month. The Adecco Group revealed we would participate in challenges for this role. The first challenge to all 48 CEOs for One Month was announced mid-way through my first week, an “elevator pitch” in an elevator. Did I mention that I am both claustrophobic and have a fear of elevators?

Week one went by in a flash but I did make sure to capture some moments through photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have more than five minutes…

Follow me on Twitter @alana_couvrette, Instagram @alana.couvrette, Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/alana.couvrette or follow my hashtag #AlanaC1M for daily content.

Vote for who you think deserves a spot at the Global Leadership Bootcamp bit.ly/2rhvQ0n. But, before you do, be sure to check out my elevator pitch on Youtube. I’ll let you do the judging…

Week Two: bring it on!

Get Your Applications In: Words of Wisdom from Last Year’s Canadian CEO for One Month

Students, young adults, recent grads– have you applied to Adecco’s 2016 CEO for One Month opportunity yet? This highly-coveted experience could grant you a paid summer internship shadowing Adecco’s North American CEO, Bob Crouch. You’ll get to see how a Global 500 company is run from the inside, undertake real-world business assignments, meet other brilliant young candidates, and learn directly from Adecco’s senior leadership. And the good news is that there’s still time to get your applications in by the April 15th deadline!

To help with your submission, we sat down with last year’s Canadian ambassador Terry Zhang to discuss what he’s taken away from his experience and share his successful application advice. Take it away, Terry…

Why you should apply

CEO for One Month has led to so much for me. To this day, I talk about my experience on my resume and LinkedIn profile. I even secured a summer internship from it. It was a gift that keeps on giving.

Seeing how a Fortune 500 runs on the inside at age 19 was pretty wild. Not just seeing it, but being able to talk to presidents, vice presidents, and executives! This really helped me to form my own goals and visions for my future career. It made me want to start my own company.

“There’s a difference between being a boss and being a leader.”

The experience made me realize that being a leader isn’t at all how it’s portrayed on television shows like House of Cards or Suits. I learned that leadership is about working with the people around you, not telling them what to do.

I’ve also applied what I learned to my personal leadership style since I’ve been back. The experience taught me a lot about my soft skills and how to use those effectively in the workplace. It armed me with the ability to talk to people from different walks of life. I can now communicate effectively with people who need guidance as well as those who are much more experienced and accomplished. That is invaluable when you’re just starting out. In fact, I’m applying those very skills during the student elections I’m currently running in.

Simply put, being an effective leader will take you further in life. No matter what you chose to do with your life—whatever level or industry—having leaderships skills and being able to talk to your co-workers respectfully will take you far and let you get things done! You’ll be able to get people on your side because they’ll want to be.

The CEO for One Month experience wasn’t only about serious business learning. There was a fair bit of fun and goofing around as well—making videos, participating in icebreaker challenges and having down time with accomplished young people from across North America. Leadership is a balancing act.

Along with leadership guidance, I also got to talk to top candidates from across the region and hear about their individual experiences— their lives, their leadership approaches, what helped them rise to the top and brought them to the competition. We all learned from one another.

The Submission

Terry’s exciting and invaluable journey started with his application. Below are his insider tips for all you CEO for One Month hopefuls—both for the application process and beyond:

Do research Adecco. Find out what they’re looking for and how they work. Learn their culture, values and mission. If you’re going to help run the company, you’re going to want to know as much as you can.

Do make your application representative of who you are. Include your passions, causes, and the activities you like to do. Do bring up examples from your real life. Talk about achievements and experiences you’ve had at school or elsewhere and how they’ll serve you to be a great representative for Canada. This includes your involvement in university, conferences, extra-curricular activities and sports.

Do make sure to mention opportunities you’ve had to communicate with people. For example, I spoke about getting to represent my school at an engineering conference. Show similarities between the opportunities you’ve had and the CEO for One Month experience—especially ones from outside the classroom.

Do be professional. That means dressing the part. Leave the sweatpants, jeans, and running shoes for when you’re not in front of business personnel.

Do use your social media to promote yourself! Showcase your supporters and cheerleaders. And let your followers track your application process through your LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and blog. Be constantly engaged with your audience and show off your passion for this experience.

Do clean up your social media before applying! Take anything out that doesn’t represent who you are as a person and professional. You can still have fun online but always keep it appropriate and considerate.

Do not read off a script or rely on stock business verbiage. Bring out your own personality and reflect who you are in real life. Be authentic and try your best to seem natural. Speak from the heart.

Do close the books and get out there. Talk to people. Get involved in university life. It’s an asset everybody should have. The skills you learn will take you miles beyond what you learn in university.

Do not focus on “winning”. Go into this eager for what you’ll get to learn. You’ll embark on a journey that will be so useful for your life! Soak it up. This was the advice my parents gave me, and it really worked.

“Leadership is something you can step into and nurture.”

Remember you don’t need to see yourself as a leader to apply. Leadership is something you can step into and nurture. If you’re able to understand other people’s perspectives, you’re already on your way to becoming a better team member and leader.

Good luck to all the future leaders out there! Applications are open until April 15th and can be accessed here.