Jean Desgagné is the President and CEO, TMX Global Solutions, Insights and Analytics Strategies, and a member of the board of directors of CDS, CDCC, TSX Trust and Agriclear. He sat down with the founders of Luminari to discuss his experiences and give some advice about what it takes to carve out a unique path in the industry. He spoke about the need for CPAs to take advantage of their “brand”, the importance of always delivering, and how to push for change in a big organization.
With great power, comes great responsibility.
“At some point when you’re dealing with big numbers, the number itself isn’t what weighs on you. What does is the responsibility. If the “trillion” that we have to move at 4 o’clock didn’t move, the impact on the economy is massive. It can be felt by the retail investor who’s expecting the $10,000 in the shares he sold so he can buy an engagement ring for his wife-to-be right, through to the banks and other corporate entities that are executing transactions. That responsibility is absolutely huge. That’s what actually weighs on you.”
“There’s a lot of things in life you can get wrong. And there are parts of our job that it’s ok to just do it well enough. There are some things, like that minute between 4 and 4:01 when we do magic; that can’t be wrong. You run a public market that has to be up every microsecond of every trading day. You can’t get that wrong. A one-minute outage is completely unacceptable. That responsibility weighs on you as well.”
CPAs should use their brand.
“I think as CPAs we start with a brand value. There is a real brand value proposition that comes from saying you’re a CPA. It’s up to you to figure out what to do with that brand.”
“You can use that brand to say, ‘Listen, I’m a smart person. I know how to solve problems. I know how to deal with people and therefore I can tackle this problem.’ You pick a problem and you tackle it. At the end of the day, my career has been a long series of accidents. I never set out to be risk manager, technologist, or a banker. It’s just a whole bunch of accidents that happened on the way to where I sit today.”
“These things happen because you position yourself. you build a brand, use your network—not to ask for jobs, but to demonstrate what you can do.”
“You always have to deliver. Whether you enjoy what you’re doing or not, you deliver. The bigger your network is, the more important it is to deliver because if you don’t, a lot of people are going to know you didn’t. But you have to also stay open to these opportunities and open to some risk.”
“The people who are successful are the ones who take risks. go out and try something new and new ways to succeed no matter what it is.
and if You fail, the old cliche is to fail fast.”
“But you monetize your learnings as quickly as you can. Then you move on and try something else. Take some chances and take some risks, that’s how you’re going to be able to succeed. The world is changing really, really fast. If you’re not agile, you’re not going to end up on top.”
Fake it ‘til you make it.
“It goes back to the brand. I built on my brand and demonstrated I could take domain like derivatives, learn it, and have it make an impact for the firm and my clients. It’s a space that we weren’t in before.”
“develop a reputation as someone who has a particular skill and who can do a particular thing.”
“The thing that I do is I change things. I grow things. I transform things. I fix things. That’s the thing that I do. I have a track record of doing it. I’ve been very lucky with the people I met as I built my network. As a result, a number of people have asked me over my career to come and change something, build something, transform something, because they know I’m good at that.”
“You need to get people seized with a sense of urgency or a sense that the status quo actually is not an option. That if we just keep doing what we’re doing, no matter how fast we pedal, we’re not going to be moving forward.”
“A big part of the sales effort, if I can call it that, is around creating a narrative where people understand that there is actually no option except change. In a business like mine, where we have a preeminent role, it can imbue a sense of complacency, a sense of inertia, and sometimes you have to fight hard to work through that. The benefit I have is that a number of people on our board get it. Our CEO gets it. And there’s a number of other people in the firm, an increasing number, who get it.”
“The way these things work, there’s a tipping point that people have to figure out if they haven’t got it. You have to create that sense of urgency in crisis and then you have to propose the solution. And the solution has to be equally compelling. Then you need to figure out what the proof points you’re going to demonstrate to show this is actually working, that it’s addressing the problem you said exists.”
“There are days when it’s not going to work.
It doesn’t work every day or every week or every month.
But you can’t take your chips off the table if it stops working for a day.”