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Jean-François Champagne

President, Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA)

Q: Did you have an important early influencer in your life? Could you reflect on their role in shaping you and preparing you for your career journey?

A: My father was definitely a big influence early in my life. When I was 10 he was elected as an MNA in the provincial legislature in Quebec, which gave me a privileged view and understanding of our political system and an appreciation for the difficult work elected officials have to do. He worked hard to represent the people who gave him the opportunity to serve and for the causes he believed in.

Q: Do you have a hobby or non-work-related activity that you think benefits you / enhances your effectiveness at work?

A: I am a self-proclaimed techno-geek. I like to try all sorts of new gadgets and technologies. I bought the first iPad even before it was available for sale in Canada. I signed up for Netflix the first month it was available. When I did my first credit card purchase on the web people thought I was nuts! I don’t carry cash — and haven’t since 2017 — and I stopped using a laptop a year ago. My phone is now my main computer.

My latest hobby is working on the Raspberry Pi to learn Python. Having an understanding of technology and what it does helps a lot at work.

(c)iStock.com/VasylDolmatov

Q: What do you see as the most pressing challenges to the association sector currently? Do these keep you up at night — or do you have an approach to build resilience and stay ahead of the curve?

A: We are living in times of disruption. We are reconsidering how we organize ourselves in society and questioning a lot: the role of capitalism, democracy and political systems, the law and social justice and our sense of belonging (who “we” are). This includes questioning the role of the not-for-profit sector as well. As a result, organizations that cannot respond and adapt to the pace of change will simply cease to exist. To sleep at night and stay ahead you must stay informed and challenge the status quo every day! (Also see the following question for more tips on sleeping at night.)

Q: Do you have a life philosophy?

A: I’m not sure if it is a life philosophy, but I try to be always open and transparent. You have to allow yourself to be vulnerable to talk about your mistakes and your weaknesses. (You have to talk about your strength and successes too!) You sleep a lot better at night knowing there are no hidden secrets.

I also say you can’t be mentally fit if you are not physically fit. I travel extensively and carry my workout gear everywhere. I perform at work better when I work out, eat well, drink less and sleep enough.               

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