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4 min read

Breaking the silence

Mar 13, 2023 9:00:23 AM

For a long time, I was reluctant to talk about it openly. In business, it's always difficult to talk about your mental health to the general public. The events of the last few months have pushed me to do so in order to put rumours to down and to make managers aware of the risks that business leaders face in this type of situation. It was after reading this article from the Journal des Affaires (Business Journal) about mental health of 300 CEOs that I decided to break the silence and share my experience. Hopefully, this sharing will help other entrepreneurs. 


I don't need to remind you that in Quebec, March 14, 2020 will be remembered forever. On that day, everything stopped. The government shut down our economy. Companies were forced to equip themselves for working for home. 

Croo, since its beginning, has been providing solutions to facilitate telecommuting. Our small team will put itself to work. Some may remember that our first initiative was to offer free consulting services to help companies simplify their conversion to this new way of working and to give tips on how to equip themselves with instant messaging tools such as Slack and Teams. At first, we thought it would be for a short period, two weeks at most.  

As of April 2020, Croo sees itself engaged in a growth crisis in a difficult climate. Already, a labor shortage has plagued Montreal's technology industry for more than a decade, and the COVID-19 context has made it even more difficult. 

When things go wrong

The chain of events led me to consult my doctor. I sought help for what I thought was ADHD, concentration was becoming difficult. My doctor prescribed medication and strongly advised me to see a psychologist, reminding me that the times brought an uncommon level of stress on managers. I did so. 

For a while, I regained my abilities and could now concentrate on managing Croo's daily life. 
It was in September 2020 that things started to get complicated. On September 21, I was admitted urgently to the CHUM. I was forced to go on protective custody. 
Stress and a medication error took their toll on my mental health. My head being my main working tool, I called upon a multidisciplinary medical team to restore my health and be able to return to my duties. 

Power plays

When this crisis occurs, some people will take advantage of it to set up their personal agenda. I was still hospitalized when a small group decided that I should not return, thus putting pressure on the managers in place to prevent my reinstatement. The future will have shown that this was a group that wanted to take power for itself. 

During this period, this group overpowered two other directors and succeeded in having them demoted to take their place. Later, I was told that others saw themselves in the position of President. The expression "when the cat's away, the mice will dance" has never been truer. 
Four months that completely destabilized the team.

Understanding the politics

Recovering from a psychosis takes time and understanding the political landscape that was set up during my absence was a long process. The first few months after my reinstatement were entirely in a working from home context, so it was difficult to get a full picture of events. 

I remember a discussion with my mentor, investor in Croo, Jean Bilodeau, where we exchanged on the challenge that was in front of us. The objective was to protect the company and ensure that our customers would not suffer. We chose an approach that did not make any waves in order to respect my recovery rhythm. Overwork is detrimental to recovery.

It was in the months following the return to the classroom, when Quebec relaxed some health measures in the summer of 2021, that we were able to understand more about the political maneuvering. 

Surrounding ourselves with the best

Gradually, we thanked some of the people who were not able to fulfill their mandate. Telecommunications is not a simple industry, and it takes years of experience to get the hang of it. 

The first step in the restructuring was the arrival of Christophe Durieux as Vice President - Technology in the spring of 2022. Christophe is a recognized professional who has worked on some of the largest telecom infrastructure projects, such as Sogetel, Fibrenoire (now Videotron), Logmein and Hydro-Quebec's Hilo project.  

Christophe's first mandate was to audit all our operations and our technological solution. Following this audit, we put in place a restructuring strategy. We had calculated the risk of reluctance to change. We had to go from a team of free electrons to professionalization, and this, by implementing the Agile methodology. It was not the first time Christophe had to help a company manager to face a mutiny of some of his employees. This allowed us to help anticipate the blows. 

Staying the course

Living through the blows one day at a time and not losing your convictions in your projects, I think that's the key. I had moments of doubt during this major project. If I can give one piece of advice that is repeated over and over again in the media: get help. I thank my doctor for forcing my hand. 

You know me a little better. Here's a little piece of my entrepreneurial story. With those words, I turn the page on one of the greatest professional and personal trials I've ever experienced. 
In the next few days, I will introduce you to the Croo management team who have decided to carry out a colossal mission: to build the Croo vision.

Topics: Our Vision