Latest article by ORCHANGO President & Co-founder Edmond Mellina, written for Talent Canada. When the…
This week marks the 20th anniversary of our firm! Time flies…
We are so grateful for all the clients, associates and partners we have collaborated with throughout these past two decades – in North America, Europe and the Middle East! 🙏💙 We are looking forward to many more fruitful collaborations in the years to come…
We asked Edmond Mellina, ORCHANGO president & co-founder, what springs to mind most vividly when reflecting on the early years as our agency. Here is what he had to say:
Very tough start in the midst of the dot-com burst
Having started our agency in the midst of a recession, it took a long time for the business to pick up. A few months after the launch of ORCHANGO, the equity we had put into the firm was already running dangerously low. And the business pipeline was, well, empty… One evening, Marie-Claude Carignan [co-founder] and I had a frank talk about the dire situation. We came to the most logical conclusion: we’ve tried but it’s not working; we are running out of cash; it’s time to move to Plan B… For me, it meant exploring opportunities to go back to a corporate executive role. That process was slow too, as very few companies were hiring; plus it was summer time… But in September, we got two lucky breaks from the FinServ sector. First, Sun Life asked us to help them execute a large-scale behavioural change necessary to mitigate a major corporate risk. A few weeks later, it was FundSERV hiring us to guide them through a strategic transformation. The business was now viable!!!
Designing our STEP UP!™ Game simulation
In its original version, our flagship NIMBLE CHANGE LEADERSHIP program featured a case study that was quite unique. Instead of writing it like a Harvard case, we used a theatre-play format. As a result, our “Korbus U.K.” case became a highly engaging story, with vivid people dynamics eerily similar to the ones change leaders are struggling with in their real world. One day, our principal Pascal Karsenty came back from a program delivery with a challenge: Let’s turn the Korbus case into a game! I have very fond memories of the design process. The outcome was our STEP UP!™ Game simulation – which is now central to our flagship program.
Super busy in Saudi Arabia during “The Great Recession“
Timing is everything. Just before the economy started losing its footing at the end of 2007, the Islamic Development Bank Group (ISDB) re-contacted us. A few years earlier, Pascal had flown to ISDB’s headquarter in Jeddah to deliver our flagship NIMBLE CHANGE LEADERSHIP program. He had done his usual magic and ISDB was impressed with our unique approach and track record. So, when in late 2007 the institution embarked on a massive reform, they reached out again. While the “Great Recession” was unfolding, we were super busy guiding ISDB through its strategic transformation and culture shift. Along the way, Pascal and I learned a lot about the country’s business culture.
Here are some pictures that Edmond and Pascal took while working in Saudi Arabia:
We also asked Edmond to reflect on the past two years with the pandemic:
When COVID-19 hit, things got very quiet on the learning side of our business. We had to cancel our scheduled deliveries because they were all in-person. But any setback brings opportunities. We reinvested our time and energy on pivoting our STEP UP!™ Game simulation and NIMBLE CHANGE LEADERSHIP program to a live-virtual format. Of course, I am looking forward to resuming in-person deliveries as we move away from the pandemic. But facilitating the live-virtual edition is super fun! Both editions are here to stay.
Also, I’ve very much enjoyed our collaboration with GSK Canada – first, guiding the organization through an agile transformation and broader strategic culture shift; and now working with the leadership teams of some of their business units. I’m looking forward to June 23, when GSK’s HR Country Head Nicole Stuart and I will be sharing the “GSK Story” with the membership of SCNetwork – our beloved association. The title will be: “Strategic Culture Shift: From Pharma To Biopharma.” Stay tuned…