Magali Depras is an experienced executive, now President and Founder of her own Consulting company, based out of Montreal, Canada. Magali has an extensive international B2B experience in Europe, North America, and Asia including 25 years in consumer goods and retail packaging. She has conducted several business transformation strategies, leading to improved operational and financial performance, and stronger employee and customer engagement for various organizations.
A believer in continuous learning, Magali has adapted to several complex business situations and fast-paced changes. She has developed several operational strategies from scratch that have ensured sustainable growth for companies in highly competitive environments. Among her peers, she is known to be pragmatic and solution-oriented with a focus on innovation and value creation.
Magali has led businesses across various geographies with multicultural teams and has been on the international board of directors for many private, public, and non-profit organizations. She is also a revered sustainability expert who has successfully integrated ESG matters at the core of various business strategies. She is the founder of Magali Depras Consulting Services Inc. and provides ESG Strategy advisory services to companies of various sizes and sectors.
Throughout her life, Magali has always enjoyed exploring the world and various geographies. Always drawn to international business, she started her career in a sales support position working in the French subsidiary of a large European packaging multinational. “In fact, I resumed my studies while working for this company and completed a Master’s in Business Administration. I grew up through the ranks,” she shares.
From sales support to sales administration manager, Magali was eventually appointed country manager in her late 20s. After turning the subsidiary around and doubling revenues and profits in 3 years, she was appointed as Director for Western and Southern Europe. “My geographical territory expanded yearly until I was eventually appointed Chief Commercial Officer of the Group,” she adds.
After close to 20 years of a successful career, Magali came to a point where she wanted to learn something new and leave her comfort zone. She joined a large Canadian conformity assessment and certification company as Vice-President, Europe where she built the organization from scratch out of Frankfurt, Germany.
“That was certainly a challenge! I jumped into cold water so to say as it was a brand-new industry with a strong engineering culture. I built a team and an organization, articulated a strategy to develop key product segments, and even completed a few acquisitions,” explains Magali. Within 3 years, revenues went up to 75M Euros with 400 employees and Magali was promoted as Chief Operating Officer, and moved from Germany to Canada. Here she overlooked Europe, Canada, the US, and Asia and 5 different product lines, with overall revenues of 300M$.
For the past 5 years, Magali has been Chief Strategy and Sustainability Officer of a large North-American Packaging and Printing Corporation. She has played a crucial role in positioning the company as a pioneer of the circular economy of plastics, in articulating a compelling ESG strategy and in positioning the organization as a sustainability leader in its industry, recognized through numerous awards. She most recently developed a carbon footprint reduction roadmap in line with the Paris agreement on climate.
“After a successful career in various industries, I felt like it was time for me to go the extra mile and to start my own business. I believe the entrepreneur in me was mature for this new step in my career. I am really excited to develop my ESG Strategy consulting practice and help companies progress on their sustainability journey!” Magali says.
A Multifaceted Leader
“I believe my leadership confidence came through resilience, hard work, building my expertise, developing trust and bonds with my team, peers, management, and customers,” states Magali. She believes in an inclusive and participative leadership style in which she ensures that each team member’s voice is heard. “I also allow my team members to take their space but know when to step in when they need support. I have always tried to lead by example, to share my experience, and inspire my teams to think big,” Magali states.
As a leader, Magali believes in maintaining resilience, stamina, trust, and keeping a positive mindset. She often goes out of her way to listen to the concerns of her peers and is always available to her team and clients. Even during tough times, Magali always places her team’s interest before her own. By creating pathways where there were none, demonstrating progress, and delivering positive results year-over-year, she gained the respect and confidence of her stakeholders and team members.
Magali also believes it is essential to dedicate some time and take care of your own mental and physical health. “I don’t think you can succeed in the long run if you forget yourself,” she mentions. An ardent sports fan, Magali often participates in half-marathons, completing her second one recently, practices gym and yoga regularly, and also enjoys outdoor activities with family and friends.
Like most people around the world, Magali has struggled with her fair share of personal obstacles. She lost her mother in her early 20s. “Being an only child, I all of a sudden became the one looking after my family”. She also felt vulnerable when she made the leap from her first company where she was in her comfort zone to the next position where she not only had to build trust and rapport with an entirely new team but also learn about a brand-new industry simultaneously.
“I believe however that you learn the most when you leave your comfort zone. Leaving a place where I was the expert to a company where I was the rookie was certainly risky but it allowed me to grow and to learn new skills and to deepen my leadership,” Magali states.
With a “never stop learning” attitude, Magali has overcome the various curve balls life had thrown her way. It is because of dealing with so many hurdles that she believes in celebrating all wins, no matter how small they are. “We often go back to the hamster wheel and forget to have fun! It’s important for the team morale and for your own,” she says.
Trusting your Mentors & Sponsors
“I was very fortunate to find great mentors and sponsors throughout my career, who often saw things in me and offered me career opportunities,” shares Magali. Her first mentor offered her to head the French business when Magali was not even 30 years old. A few years later this resulted in her moving to Germany to lead the sales teams for all of Western and Southern Europe. “I was the first female to take such a position and I was the youngest as well,” Magali mentions.
In her second company, Magali was hired to become Vice-President, Europe by the CEO who knew her successful career path. Through her hard work and innovative thinking, she was promptly promoted to Chief Operating Officer, a position newly created.
A builder and believer of strong networks, Magali also gives and seeks advice through her network. “I have built myself a sort of advisory board with people of great experience whom I trust and whom I can speak to and seek advice from in any situation. This is also important to have mentors and sponsors outside of your work environment,” she says.
A self-made leader, Magali has often noticed that women have to work a lot harder than men to prove themselves. “I have been in business for almost 3 decades now and even if I have seen women advance the corporate ladder, we are not there yet.” She has noticed how leaders tend to trust and appoint colleagues they have worked with and who think alike. Women are more often seen in support functions such as HR or Marketing, rather than in Operations and in charge of P&L’s. “This is an obstacle for them to be considered for leadership roles. And when women make it to the top, I believe that they are under more scrutiny than men,” she states.
Magali feels that it is important to isolate yourself from the nay-sayers and surround yourself with mentors and people who support you and enable you to be your best-self, as a person and a professional. She believes that women have excellent qualities to be great leaders. They can handle multiple priorities because of their strong self-discipline, multi-tasking skills and work ethics. Not to mention, women have a natural participative management style making them very accessible as leaders. Important qualities to be successful in a diverse, complex and fast-changing environment!
To other women on their own leadership journeys, Magali says, “Do not let anyone be disrespectful to you, diminish your merits, interrupt you when you speak, take your successes for theirs. Don’t be afraid to speak up…Men are usually supportive of their colleagues. Women should do the same. Demonstrate sisterhood and support your female colleagues more!” An inspiring life trajectory where strong business acumen, passion for sustainability and gender diversity are combined and drive impactful results.