Montreal Canadiens: The Business
The Montreal Canadiens hockey franchise is one of the largest and most successful in the world. Run by the Molson family, it’s no surprise that the franchise is doing well. But what is it that the Molson family implements in their business ventures that ensures success? This month, Business Review Canada takes a look at the Canadiens franchise, its operations and the famous family that runs them.
The successful business entrepreneurship of Canada’s Molson family is nationally known. Featured in Business Review Canada’s October issue, the Molson family’s attention to detail in business, even in how employees are treated at Molson Coors, goes far above and beyond. The Molson family treats the Montreal Canadiens in the same way.
Acquiring 80 per cent of the Canadiens franchise in 2009, the family has been affiliated with the team since 1957. During that time the team was operated by brothers Thomas and Hartland Molson, leading the club to win 11 of its Stanley Cup championships. The Molsons, also at that time, purchased the team’s arena, the Bell Centre.
"This is a very exciting time for our family and we are grateful to the many people and organizations who came forward to offer their collaboration in the development of our proposal," said Mr. Molson at the time of the team’s purchase.
Geoff Molson, Owner, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens, has been a Habs fan since he was a kid, back when Molson Brewery originally owned the team. Although the Canadiens have seen slower seasons in the last few years, it is clear the Molsons plan to continue promoting team success in the future.
Representing Quebec, the Montreal Canadiens are the only team in the province and have been the only team since 1995 after the departure of their rivals, the Quebec Nordiques. This is potentially another plus that has led their franchise to such great heights.
The Montreal Canadiens franchise is valued at $445 million, the third highest valued franchise in the NHL. Its storied past is one of the many reasons the franchise continues to thrive, no matter the team’s record.
The Canadiens, or Habs as its fans have nicknamed it, was founded in 1909 and is the only NHL team to pre-date the formation of NHL. One of the Original Six teams of the NHL, the team has a phenomenal Stanley Cup record holding the most of any franchise—a total of 24—which equals 25 per cent of all Stanley Cup championships.
A big part of the Habs franchise is its fans and their loyalty. The Quebequois have a total of eight French nicknames including: Les Canadiens, Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge, La Sainte-Flanelle, Le Tricolore, Les Glorieux, Les Habitants, Le CH and Le Grand Club proving the team’s fans have outstanding passion. Playing in a sold out Bell Centre since 2004, it is clear the team sees great revenues and profits.
In 2009, the film Pour toujours, les Canadiens! was released, a film that celebrated all that the team stands for in deference to the club’s centennial celebration.
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.