January 31, 2018 by Mark Brownlee

“We are relationship builders in everything we do”: Q&A with Banfield’s Véronique Gravel

Relationships are central to what Banfield does, and no one embodies that mentality more than Véronique Gravel.

Véronique, a Banfield partner, is now beginning her 12th year with the organization. Recently she took on a new role as Banfield’s Director of Client Services, where she’ll be working with the rest of the Banfield team to deliver the best possible work to clients.

Here she discusses her Banfield journey, her new role with the organization and the benefit that relationships bring to her work life and career.

Tell us a little bit about your “Banfield journey”.

Véronique Gravel: I first was introduced to Banfield in 2004 when the agency I was working with at the time was closing down. Some of my key accounts were moving to Banfield so I had offered to come and help with the transition. I would have been keen to stay, but had already accepted a position somewhere else. A couple years later, (Banfield CEO) Nancy Webb reached out to me to see if I’d be interested in joining the team. I officially started at Banfield in March 2006 as an Account Executive and was later promoted to Account Director. In 2014, I joined the leadership team as a managing partner and recently transitioned to the Director of Client Services role.

Why are you excited to take on this new role?

VG: I love building sincere, authentic relationships and it’s important to me to maintain these — on and off the job. I have this intrinsic desire to be helpful. In the role of Director of Client Services, I am responsible for establishing strong relationships both with my accounts team and the agency’s clients. And that’s exciting to me! I get to lead a highly talented group of people, offer mentorship, and I can work with my team to ensure our clients receive the smartest and most creative work from our agency. I’m especially excited to play this role at Banfield because my personal values really align with our company’s culture. We work hard, we’re accountable and we take pride in our work. And, as a leader, I can help reinforce those values.

Where does your passion for work come from?

VG: Fundamentally, it starts with my personality. I’m a very loyal person and I’m able to empathize with others, so when someone puts their trust in me to help solve a problem, I jump in to help. I’ve always been driven to succeed whether that was in relationships, school or work. I believe that I can always figure out a way to solve a problem, but rarely alone. My work in marketing communications is centred on people: making sure I understand and deliver on their needs. A key strength of mine is I’m very attentive to people and I’m able to quickly recognize others’ strengths. In a professional context, I use that to build my network and stay connected to people so I can pull them in to help fill any gaps.

How important are relationships – whether it be with co-workers, clients, people in your network – in your new role?

VG: Developing, maintaining and protecting relationships are crucial responsibilities in my new role. I need to be a trusted advisor to build loyalty. Having a network of people talking about their experience working with us is worth so much more than what we could ever write or say about ourselves. After 45 years in business, Banfield has earned a strong reputation for client service excellence. I think that has everything to do with trusted relationships. And you have to work hard to earn trust. Most of our work grows by client referrals and we have an impressively long average tenure with our clients and our staff. Having strong relationships contribute so much in being able to bring the best value to our clients. When you work at developing lasting relationships with clients, you’re investing in both their success and your own. In this industry, the best work comes from collaboration. It’s just as important to nurture relationships with co-workers as it is with clients because I want us all to be working towards the same goal.

What role have building and maintaining relationships played in your career?

Relationships have really guided my career path. I moved to Ottawa after graduating from school and had no network to leverage to start off my career here. But I understood the importance of building one. My first career move was an opportunity that was presented to me by a client. The next one was from a previous co-worker. And the next one was from a previous encounter through my professional network. Through the years of working in the industry, being involved in the community, staying connected through professional networking and maintaining friendships with clients and co-workers, I’ve been able to find opportunities that helped me be successful in my career.

In your experience, what’s unique about Banfield’s approach to maintaining relationships?

Our purpose is to make ourselves indispensable to our clients and each other. At Banfield, we believe that you are only as smart as the company you keep, and we believe in keeping the best — clients, suppliers, and the people within our own walls. We are relationship builders in everything we do.

We spend a lot of time together as co-workers, and we invest a lot of time getting to know and understand our clients. During a project, we stay regularly connected. We believe in a collaborative approach so that we can achieve the best results together. I think we often blur the lines a little bit between personal relationships and professional relationships, because ultimately, we are dealing with people, so we treat them as kindly and respectfully as possible, like friends should, while maintaining a very professional relationship to stay focused on our goals.

We have a very strong company culture and I do truly believe that the company values fundamentally align with the personal values of all the individuals that make up our team. We’ve always trusted our instinct when hiring people. We love people that look good on paper, but they need that little extra something that will make us believe that they will fit in. People that are happy at work will generally perform well at work. And that means that our clients get the best out of our team. And that’s where everything starts.

Tell us a little bit about yourself – including something unexpected for those who already know you.

VG: If you follow me on Instagram, you know that most of my personal time these days is about balancing work-life with my two little ones. But that’s not revealing anything you didn’t already know about me. So, what is it about me that is perhaps unexpected? I’m a little girly. And a little outdoorsy. I seem to consistently surprise people when they hear about my next camping trip. I see that I come across as someone that likes her comfort and perhaps some level of luxury. But I actually love to bring it back to basics and enjoy nature. Growing up, every summer, we’d leave for a few weeks to discover a new part of Canada, with the old, not-so reliable tent trailer. I think my dad believed it added a sense of adventure. It’s a tradition I never stopped. I brought my friends camping when I was old enough to take the car, and I now continue the tradition with my own little family. And for the first time this year – I’ll be trying out a winter camping weekend – and yes, the little ones are following. Rest assured you’ll know because I’ll likely document it on Instagram.

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