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Agency Life

The Triathlete

The Triathlete

Danielle Smith

Danielle Smith

July 24, 2019

Havas Media’s Michael Lelievre shares the story of his extreme sports career.

"I did my first Ironman in 2003, and I have done a total of 11 Ironman triathlons."

“Excruciating, but beautiful.” That’s how Havas Media North America’s CFO Michael Lelievre describes running a triathlon in Alaska. After 22 years he continues his commitment to extreme sports, most recently finishing in the Top 10 the 8th place male overall in the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon, which included a 3,000 meter (1.8 mile) swim, 182 kilometer (113 mile) bike course, and 42.5 kilometer (27.5 mile) running course. 

 

How did you start your career? What attracted you to a career in advertising?

I started in 1996 with the Bolloré Group. Back in 2014, I was looking for an opportunity either in Asia or North America because that was one of the two continents I hadn’t lived on yet. There was a position open in Havas APAC working in Singapore for Media and I was appointed there as the CFO and then the role grew to include both Creative and Media. 

 

Tell us a little about your role at Havas? 

I am responsible for delivering the financial performance of the Media division in North America. This includes reports, budgets, compliance, treasury, cash, and tax. Everything in the sphere of finance and accounting for the company. I also supervise Media IT, operational systems related to Media, and HR. All back office duties—let’s put it that way.  

 

How did you get started running and why?

It started 22 years ago. At that time I was playing volleyball in a national subdivision in France and I felt it was impossible to continue. I was getting older and I couldn’t organize my training with a team as well as maintaining long work hours and business trips. I still had the need to exercise and working out, so I decided to go for triathlons since I knew it was an individual sport that includes multiple sports besides just running. 

 

What is your favorite part about competing in triathlons? How did you get involved with Alaskaman?

I don’t have any preferred sport within the three disciplines of a triathlon. What is more important is the distance. When I started I was doing very short distances because I wasn’t a strong swimmer and didn’t yet have the best technique. I improved my swimming and my running and biking so I could start to going longer distances. I did my first Ironman in 2003, and I have done a total of 11 Ironman triathlons. 

"Training is where I have the most pride, not the race."

 

What I like is to discover a new place while at the same time have a great sport experience. Alaska was awesome. I was discovering a place I didn’t l know at all and competing in a place that was very different and extreme. There’s a new competition called Extreme Triathlon that started in Norway 10 years ago. They are comparable to the Ironman, but the courses are tougher and more extreme. The swim is super cold and the race is super hot, with a limited number of participants in the race. You don’t qualify, you win a draw. I happened to win the draw for the 2017 competition in Norway. The competition is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. I managed to finish as a top competitor, which was a big achievement.

 

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?

You know what is funny is that many people are talking about the races and they say they’re a big achievement. But for me, what is tough is the training. It’s tough; it’s a big commitment. To wake up at 4:30 am and train on the weekends while managing Family and work time is hard. If you train properly, hopefully, the race will go well. So my training is where I have the most pride, not the race. But I have even more pride in my career with this group, since I have been working here for 22 years in 12 different positions with 3 entities on 4 continents. 

 

What are you really good at?

I don’t know! I guess I would say I can adapt. When you see that I have changed positions every 2 to 3 years, it shows that I am adaptable.

 

What do you hope to be better at?

Probably to better understand our business. Since I am always jumping from one position to the other, sometimes I don’t have enough time to fully immerse myself in all aspects of the business. It’s not necessarily part of my remit, but I’d like to be more knowledgeable about the details of our business in advertising, media, and tech. 

 

Best Advice? Worst?

To listen, and to adapt your management and communication styles to people. Don’t try to impose your ideas even if you think you’re right. This way you can get the best from everybody. 

 

How do you inspire others?

I’m trying to be as honest as possible in all that I do. 

"I did my first Ironman in 2003, and I have done a total of 11 Ironman triathlons."

“Excruciating, but beautiful.” That’s how Havas Media North America’s CFO Michael Lelievre describes running a triathlon in Alaska. After 22 years he continues his commitment to extreme sports, most recently finishing in the Top 10 the 8th place male overall in the Alaskaman Extreme Triathlon, which included a 3,000 meter (1.8 mile) swim, 182 kilometer (113 mile) bike course, and 42.5 kilometer (27.5 mile) running course. 

 

How did you start your career? What attracted you to a career in advertising?

I started in 1996 with the Bolloré Group. Back in 2014, I was looking for an opportunity either in Asia or North America because that was one of the two continents I hadn’t lived on yet. There was a position open in Havas APAC working in Singapore for Media and I was appointed there as the CFO and then the role grew to include both Creative and Media. 

 

Tell us a little about your role at Havas? 

I am responsible for delivering the financial performance of the Media division in North America. This includes reports, budgets, compliance, treasury, cash, and tax. Everything in the sphere of finance and accounting for the company. I also supervise Media IT, operational systems related to Media, and HR. All back office duties—let’s put it that way.  

 

How did you get started running and why?

It started 22 years ago. At that time I was playing volleyball in a national subdivision in France and I felt it was impossible to continue. I was getting older and I couldn’t organize my training with a team as well as maintaining long work hours and business trips. I still had the need to exercise and working out, so I decided to go for triathlons since I knew it was an individual sport that includes multiple sports besides just running. 

 

What is your favorite part about competing in triathlons? How did you get involved with Alaskaman?

I don’t have any preferred sport within the three disciplines of a triathlon. What is more important is the distance. When I started I was doing very short distances because I wasn’t a strong swimmer and didn’t yet have the best technique. I improved my swimming and my running and biking so I could start to going longer distances. I did my first Ironman in 2003, and I have done a total of 11 Ironman triathlons. 

"Training is where I have the most pride, not the race."

 

What I like is to discover a new place while at the same time have a great sport experience. Alaska was awesome. I was discovering a place I didn’t l know at all and competing in a place that was very different and extreme. There’s a new competition called Extreme Triathlon that started in Norway 10 years ago. They are comparable to the Ironman, but the courses are tougher and more extreme. The swim is super cold and the race is super hot, with a limited number of participants in the race. You don’t qualify, you win a draw. I happened to win the draw for the 2017 competition in Norway. The competition is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, and a 26.2 mile run. I managed to finish as a top competitor, which was a big achievement.

 

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?

You know what is funny is that many people are talking about the races and they say they’re a big achievement. But for me, what is tough is the training. It’s tough; it’s a big commitment. To wake up at 4:30 am and train on the weekends while managing Family and work time is hard. If you train properly, hopefully, the race will go well. So my training is where I have the most pride, not the race. But I have even more pride in my career with this group, since I have been working here for 22 years in 12 different positions with 3 entities on 4 continents. 

 

What are you really good at?

I don’t know! I guess I would say I can adapt. When you see that I have changed positions every 2 to 3 years, it shows that I am adaptable.

 

What do you hope to be better at?

Probably to better understand our business. Since I am always jumping from one position to the other, sometimes I don’t have enough time to fully immerse myself in all aspects of the business. It’s not necessarily part of my remit, but I’d like to be more knowledgeable about the details of our business in advertising, media, and tech. 

 

Best Advice? Worst?

To listen, and to adapt your management and communication styles to people. Don’t try to impose your ideas even if you think you’re right. This way you can get the best from everybody. 

 

How do you inspire others?

I’m trying to be as honest as possible in all that I do. 

Danielle Smith is the Communications Manager of Havas Group. She’s believes every meal can be tacos if you have tortillas and the heart to try.

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