They know each other by heart, tease one another abundantly, and mutually respect each other. Sophie Théberge and Patrick Matos are a lot like childhood friends. We say “like,” because their journeys only crossed paths in 2014 at Bell Media. There, they were tasked with redefining mobile radio, a massive mandate!
We spoke about media, digital technology, and collaboration with these two ambitious companions who take pleasure in their work, and in defying the status quo.
Q. What are these new realities that force a company like Bell to explore new avenues and do things differently?
A. Patrick The media industry has made too much money for too long. For years, its profit margins have varied between 35% and 40%.
Today, new digital players are attacking this giant money printer. And, if they don’t want to be the next Kodak or Blockbuster, they must absolutely reinvent their model! As content costs continue to increase at a staggering rate, eminent profit loss will be fast and brutally unforgiving.
Sophie For example, when Netflix set up its platforms they were able to sell their product across the planet.
Their amortization is much better than that of a company like Bell Media, which has to develop the same platforms, maintain them and make them live, but within a much smaller market: Canada. In short, for media companies here, the challenges are even greater. But intellectually speaking, it’s so stimulating to try to find a fault in the system that will allow it to continue on performing.
Q. Sure, digital technologies offer endless opportunities, but expectations also have to be addressed and met. Is it possible to create a digital product that addresses consumer needs?
R. Patrick It’s true that when it comes to digital technologies, client, consumer, and supplier expectations are sometimes completely illogical. Everything seems feasible. At times, it feels like customers think it’s as easy as building a basic website. Plus, you can’t tell them it’s not possible, they’ll only insist more. These confrontations are both fascinating and exhausting...
Sophie There are also those I like to call the “new digital fashionistas.” People who, whenever a new trend comes out, want to follow it, without asking themselves if it will have a positive impact on their revenues. That can get annoying! However, I think it should be viewed as a challenge. It’s equally important to be open to new trends, because they can be a good option, so long as you always keep a rational mindset to get a feel for the real issues at stake.
Q. You’re pretty good when it comes to collaborating! When you worked with Mirego, both teams were extremely complementary. How did you go about choosing a good supplier?
A. Sophie In my eyes, a supplier is never a supplier. They are business partners with whom I build a trusting relationship. That means that when I’m out in left field with my ideas, I want to be told! Someone who says, “Tell me what you want me to do,” just chills me to the bone. I don’t want a vendor who runs in “execution mode” all the time. The first time I met the people at Mirego, I felt that they wanted me to prove to them that I was an interesting customer! I appreciate that they carefully choose their mandates rather than work on anything and everything that comes their way. Their integrity kept me hooked. I like to know that the people I work with are going to put all hands on deck, just like us.
Patrick I agree with Sophie 100%!
It’s clear to see that you’re made to work with one another!
WHO ARE SOPHIE THÉBERGE & PATRICK MATOS?
“At Bell, we were like a two-headed dog,” Sophie joked. To get to know them better, each head was asked to describe the other.
as seen by Patrick
Patrick Sophie. Hmmm… She’s a mix of many things! She’s passionate and explosive. That being said, I’ve rarely seen such a rational and thoughtful person. She’s extremely intelligent. She had enormous responsibilities at Cossette, Astral, and Bell Media. On a personal level, Sophie is very close to her family. She’s also very loyal when it comes to friendship and her employees for that matter. In fact, she reminds me of a wolf! You have to see her in action when she’s with her dynamic, young team…
Sophie Why don’t you just go ahead and say that I’m a cougar then!
Patrick Haha! No, Sophie is a wolf in the way that she is very protective of her staff. She likes to encourage people in their development, show them what to do and what not to do, as well as teach them to work together.
as seen by Sophie
Sophie If I’m a wolf, then Patrick is a machine! He pr-bably has hard drives plugged into the back of his head!
Patrick has an incredible ability and willingness to learn. He digs into anything and everything. Originally, he comes from the high finance field. He also worked for GE and carried out mandates around the world.
Patrick Yes, I worked in mergers and acquisitions for 13 years. Each time GE bought a firm, a team would go onsite to carry out the integration.
Sophie It was the perfect job for him! This guy is able to calculate faster than his shadow, create models and make projections in a snap, as well as find the weaknesses in a company in little to no time. He’s a rare species! Patrick’s also very charismatic and is a great leader. He can easily rally people around his vision.
“ If life gets too easy, it gets boring. Life’s got to be a little tough if you’re looking to get something out of it. ”