The career of Jean-Sébastien Daigle, Société VIA

VIA CEO Jean-Sébastien Daigle brings an innovative vision to the industry, inspired by Sweden's approach to sustainable development. It values the organization's strengths, encourages personal development and promotes a balanced lifestyle. An innovative approach to transforming the manufacturing industry.

An innovative vision

At the helm of the company since 2016, Jean-Sébastien Daigle is an industrial engineer by training. He went on to complete his MBA in business management. Before joining VIA, he worked in the manufacturing sector. The fact that he chose to spend part of his studies in Sweden sets Jean-Sébastien’s academic career apart. I wanted a change of scene, to see how things work elsewhere,” he explains. The learning process is different there, there are no big lectures. Yet education is highly valued there, and Swedes are paid to educate themselves.”

Beyond the education system, Jean-Sébastien also highlights Scandinavia’s clear advance in sustainable development. “It’s a very different culture from North America. Firstly, people get around a lot on foot or by bike. As for household recycling, it has been well integrated for many years. People rigorously sort materials at home, with bins for each type of material. At the grocery store, reusable bags have been around for a long time. Buildings, roads – they’re also ahead of the game industrially. And what about the pace of life? Working hours of 3 days a week are commonplace, or working days from 10am to 3pm. This calls into question notions of productivity and quality of life.

This extremely enriching experience led him to see things differently and to try to integrate this vision into his own management style. “To move forward, you have to stop systematically comparing yourself to others. First and foremost, you have to capitalize on your organization’s strengths. You need to take the time to identify where you have the greatest impact, so you can organize your schedule and priorities accordingly – it’s the sinews of war! Hence the importance of taking time out to reflect on where we want to direct our actions, and readjust our aim if necessary.

The CEO firmly believes in the many virtues of mentoring. He’s always made good use of it himself. “I’ve had several mentors in my life, including Normand, who helped me a lot with organizational development. It puts people at the heart of everything, so that we can capitalize on each individual’s strengths. In business, it’s important not to feel alone with our concerns, and to be able to discuss them, which is very helpful. We all need someone to ask us the right questions.

This is also where the role of the Board of Directors comes into its own. “For an organization to achieve its objectives, you need to know how to surround yourself with people who trust you and whom you trust. People who encourage us to question and reflect. This can sometimes seem to slow us down, but on the contrary, it helps us make the right decisions in the short, medium and long term.”

Inspired by the principle of free enterprise

“The notion of the liberated enterprise comes from Frédéric Laloux’s book Reinventing Organizations. This approach presents a different corporate philosophy, where power is shared and hierarchies are flattened, if not non-existent. It insists on the importance of respecting oneself and others; people must respect their own values as well as those of the organization. At VIA, we highlight people’s strengths and draw up development plans to make the most of them. Everyone can shine in their own way. We place a great deal of emphasis on the personal development, fulfillment and realization of our people in their daily lives. To achieve this, we have set up an HR approach called CAC, which identifies for each employee “something I want to start doing, something I want to stop doing and something I want to continue doing. We carry out 360° appraisals, giving each other feedback. We empower people to make them feel valued.”

Everything starts with you

Taking time out remains a priority for him to ensure a healthy balance in his life. An avid meditator and morning jogger, Jean-Sébastien confides that these moments are very precious to him. “Life isn’t linear, so it’s important to know how to reposition yourself. We all have a golden nugget inside us, and we need to be able to bring it out. To do this, we need to stay focused on our physical and mental well-being, so that we can give the best of ourselves.”

As a father of three, Jean-Sébastien is mindful of one of the best pieces of advice he ever received from Algonquin hereditary chief Dominique Rankin. He once told me: “Give yourself everything”. Taking care of yourself gives you energy and allows you to give back to others. I used to try to do everything, and that was very tiring, with frequent disappointments and low energy levels. Reading the book Miracle morning had a profound effect on me. It was this book that led me to write and integrate morning meditation, over the past 2 years. I take 1h00 of time for myself in the morning, without guilt, I don’t disturb anyone and I resource myself to give better afterwards in my day.”

Her personal challenge remains to let go more and trust life, to keep in mind “that behind every challenge lies an opportunity” and to let things happen.

Jean-Sébastien’s key recycling tips

If we ask Jean-Sébastien to give people two key tips to make sorting at the center easier, here’s what he’s quick to point out: “First, with plastic bags, please separate the materials, make a bag of bags, and for pity’s sake separate the contents of the Publisac from the bag itself, they’re two different materials! The same goes for the empty cookie tin: separate the bag from the tin. Also, for the safety of our employees, do not put batteries in the recycling bin – it’s dangerous, the lithium they contain is flammable. This situation causes fires, and it happens all too often. Yes, we’re well trained and organized to intervene, but we absolutely must reduce the margin for error. This type of material has to go to the Ecocentre, just like used oil, pieces of metal, building materials, electronic appliances, etc.”

He’s categorical: “When in doubt, abstain! If you’re not sure whether that material belongs in the recycling bin, don’t hesitate any longer and save it for the Ecocentre. Keep these three materials in mind and you’ll be fine: rinsed containers, printed matter, packaging. Cans are also a great material for us; they’re our most profitable product. For those who don’t want to take their returnable cans back to the store, the bin is perfect!