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Mereo – Shared governance or disguised dictatorship?

JAU CEO governance

Hear, hear, Mereo has a new CEO! Well, not that new. In a candidate-free election held last month, Julien Augris, Mereo’s president since 2019, was re-elected for a second three-year term. 🎉

A CEO... in a shared governance?

Before giving him the floor, let’s say a few words about the role of CEO at Mereo. As you know, Mereo operates under a shared governance system, where responsibilities and decision-making are distributed across all members of the organization. The CEO is part of this model. He has no major decision-making power, which is held by the group. In the exceptional case where collective intelligence would not allow us to find a solution on a critical issue, the CEO still has the right to decide as a last resort (which he has never done so far).

In addition to his legal responsibilities, the CEO guarantees the consistency of Mereo’s projects and the cohesion of our team. He also has a mission to represent Mereo externally, i.e. to embody Mereo’s vision, activities and governance system with regard to the rest of the world (clients, prospects, partners, media, etc.). 

An election... without candidates?

At Mereo, the CEO is chosen in a candidate-free election. This method of voting, which involves the whole team, allows everyone to vote for any of the members of the organization. When the votes are counted, each participant indicates whom they voted for and explains why they think that person would be the most appropriate for the role. Once everyone has spoken, each participant can, upon hearing everyone’s arguments, transfer their vote to another person. The person with the most votes after that second round is then nominated for the role. If none of the participants (including the nominated person) has any objections to that person taking the role, he or she is elected.

This method of voting can bring out people who possess the qualities expected for the role but who do not necessarily feel legitimate to assume it. If they are chosen by the group, they can gain confidence and accept the mission. At the same time, the process does not prevent those who wish to take on the role from signaling their motivation by voting for themselves in the first round, an information that the others can take into account when transferring their votes in the second round.

Crushing victory... or ballot-box stuffing?

Thus, last March, Mereo members met to elect their CEO. As a result, Julien came out on top with 93.3% of votes (guaranted without fraud) and, in the absence of any objections, Mereo renewed its confidence in him for an additional three-year term.

Despite his busy schedule, we were able to interview Julien and ask him a few questions about his re-election and his future plans. Without further ado, discover our interview with the CEO, exclusively in Mereo Tribune.

Interview with Julien Augris

Mereo Tribune (MT) : Hello Julien! Or should we say Mr. President? Congratulations on your re-election. Did you expect such a result?

Thank you!

In the previous election in 2019 that resulted in my first term, I was surprised to be chosen for this responsibility. I did not vote for myself at the time.

Today, I would say that this very clear-cut result is only a half-surprise. Even though our organization does not grant a major decision-making power to the CEO, this position is not insignificant. The list of potential candidates is therefore not very long.

For this new candidate-free election, I did my best not to give any indication beforehand on my will to continue assuming the role; this was so as not to influence the vote.
In the first round of the election, I voted for myself to emphasize that I was motivated to carry on as CEO for a second term.

MT : How did you celebrate your victory?

It just so happens that we had planned a nice little evening with colleagues in our Parisian office. I even drank some champagne (and I very rarely drink alcohol)!
Then, for those who could stay, we went on with a board game night.

MT : Are there things you would like to do differently or emphasize in this new term? What would you like to put in place?

To be honest, the first mandate was one of discovery. Whether it was legal or administrative responsibilities, I had to get up to speed.
Most of these aspects are now quite well integrated. Capitalizing on that, I will be able to focus on the external representation and embodiment of mereo’s vision.

In addition to our governance system which spreads out the responsibilities usually attributed to the CEO in a “classic” company, I also wish to start delegating certain attributions of the CEO position to other people.
This will have several benefits: it will free up my time, it will make other people responsible for a sub-part of the CEO’s operational obligations and it will allow candidates to emerge for the next election in 3 years.

MT: What is Mereo's vision referred to in the article?

Our vision can be defined by the following orientations:

  • Accompany and collaborate with our clients on the long run. Be close to our users, responsive, transparent and involved on a daily basis.
  • Innovate, nourish and blend our expertise in different industries.
  • Offer a global approach to optimization (booking and revenue management), at the heart of the ecosystem, oriented by business needs and supported by technology.
  • Be at the service of human intelligence (a system should not replace human beings, but save time and provide the right information to help them make informed decisions and contribute where they have real added value)

MT: What are the challenges that Mereo is currently facing?

One of our major challenges is to consolidate our reputation and our position in the DOOH industry, to develop internationally, and to succeed in optimizing an industry whose trading modes are still in constant transformation.

We also want to strengthen our offer on pricing, in particular to facilitate its integration as a stand-alone module (in addition to our Price & Place product that integrates the booking system).

The upheavals following the pandemic and the changes in the market and buying habits, coupled with recent technological progress in the field of AI, require us to focus on forecasting in our various industries (leisure, radio/TV and outdoor), in order to diversify our models and adapt them to new contexts.

Finally, we want to rely on our internal governance to ensure cohesion and to bring out the full potential of each person, both within our team and when interacting with our clients.

MT: How do you manage to balance work and family life?

This requires constant adjustment. Clearly, being a CEO has affected this balance. However, my children are now quite grown up and independent (between the end of middle school and high school) and this poses less of an organizational problem when I’m on the road or with long hours.

The central aspect is that I have been living in Niort for almost 15 years, after starting my career in Paris. I am a precursor of telecommuting 😊, it’s really had a positive impact on my living conditions.

Since my arrival in Niort, I’ve also been working part-time (90%); it doesn’t change much to the workload but it allows me to have a breathing day every 2 weeks. At the beginning this time was mainly focused on my children’s school (accompanying them on outings, working with parents, etc.), but it now allows me to get involved in community life.

All these elements contribute to the balance and conciliation between family and professional life.

MT: What is your morning routine?

I take some time to read the local newspapers and some national ones while drinking tea.

Then, I try to do a small workout session for muscular maintenance, or some exercise bike while listening to various podcasts.

Then I take a quick shower and head for the office… at the end of the corridor to be operational before 9am (unless I have a heavier workload).