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Agency Life

This Is How We Build a Village

This Is How We Build a Village

Natasha Smith

Natasha Smith

March 16, 2018

The CEO of Havas Canada gets his hands dirty, literally.

"Once I feel I’ve mastered something, I push and try to learn something more complex."

A leader, a builder, and a financial aficionado: Havas Canada CEO Tom Olesinski has been with the agency for more than 10 years and has always made time for his passions outside the office. With the Village in Toronto undergoing major renovations, we sat down with him to discuss how he found a way to integrate his passion for woodworking with his role as CEO.

When did you first discover your passion for woodworking?

It started out of necessity when I purchased my first home. I wanted a finished basement with large plank floors, a bar, and a built-in TV, but I couldn’t afford to hire someone, so my only option was to learn how to do it myself. Since then, my skills have grown—much like the ones in my professional career. I continue to challenge myself, and once I feel I’ve mastered something, I push and try to learn something more complex. It’s funny. Sometimes I look at some of my early work and think, “yuck,” but that’s how you learn and ultimately get better.

With the Village in the midst of renovations, you’ve found a unique opportunity to build something for your team. What inspires you to create things for the Village?

I genuinely feel like Havas has become my second family, so creating something for the people I enjoy working with, well, it’s easy to become inspired.

What are some similarities between building furniture and building a business?

To me, there are three: patience, taking risks, and learning from mistakes. In order to produce a beautiful piece, a person needs to take his or her time each step of the way—from design to final finishing. You can’t hand cut a drawer dovetail without ruining a few great pieces of wood.  

How do you balance your work-life schedule with such an attention-driven hobby?

The nice thing about this hobby is that I’m never under pressure to produce results. I do it for myself, work when I have time, and simply enjoy any free time I get to work in my shop.    

So, how much sawdust have you swallowed over the years?

I have a complete dust collection system in my shop that collects dust that every tool produces; however, I’ve swallowed some dust over the years.

In designing the new space, why is it important for you to have a unified feel throughout the Village?

We approach our Village in the same way we approach our business: We have a unified approach to solving problems for our clients, and our space needs to reflect this.

"Once I feel I’ve mastered something, I push and try to learn something more complex."

A leader, a builder, and a financial aficionado: Havas Canada CEO Tom Olesinski has been with the agency for more than 10 years and has always made time for his passions outside the office. With the Village in Toronto undergoing major renovations, we sat down with him to discuss how he found a way to integrate his passion for woodworking with his role as CEO.

When did you first discover your passion for woodworking?

It started out of necessity when I purchased my first home. I wanted a finished basement with large plank floors, a bar, and a built-in TV, but I couldn’t afford to hire someone, so my only option was to learn how to do it myself. Since then, my skills have grown—much like the ones in my professional career. I continue to challenge myself, and once I feel I’ve mastered something, I push and try to learn something more complex. It’s funny. Sometimes I look at some of my early work and think, “yuck,” but that’s how you learn and ultimately get better.

With the Village in the midst of renovations, you’ve found a unique opportunity to build something for your team. What inspires you to create things for the Village?

I genuinely feel like Havas has become my second family, so creating something for the people I enjoy working with, well, it’s easy to become inspired.

What are some similarities between building furniture and building a business?

To me, there are three: patience, taking risks, and learning from mistakes. In order to produce a beautiful piece, a person needs to take his or her time each step of the way—from design to final finishing. You can’t hand cut a drawer dovetail without ruining a few great pieces of wood.  

How do you balance your work-life schedule with such an attention-driven hobby?

The nice thing about this hobby is that I’m never under pressure to produce results. I do it for myself, work when I have time, and simply enjoy any free time I get to work in my shop.    

So, how much sawdust have you swallowed over the years?

I have a complete dust collection system in my shop that collects dust that every tool produces; however, I’ve swallowed some dust over the years.

In designing the new space, why is it important for you to have a unified feel throughout the Village?

We approach our Village in the same way we approach our business: We have a unified approach to solving problems for our clients, and our space needs to reflect this.

Natasha Smith is the strategic communications manager for Havas Group. She happily represents 404 in the 212.

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