Interview With the New CEO of the Québec City Convention Centre

Case Studies

In this third episode of L’arrière-scène podcast, our team talks to Ms. Caroline Lepage, appointed President and CEO of the Québec City Convention Centre in April 2024. They talk about her path in business tourism, her anything-but-conventional side, and her vision for the Centre in the coming years.

In this podcast, Ms. Ann Cantin, Director of Communications and Marketing, talks with Ms. Caroline Lepage, the new CEO of the Québec City Convention Centre since April 2024.

ANN CANTN:
You’re naturally associated with business tourism for many people at the Convention Centre or in the Québec City region. But if we dive into your background, you didn’t think you’d end up in this field at all. Perhaps you could tell us what brought you to this point in your career?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
My main education is in international relations (and international trade). I spent the first 15 years of my career in economic development, particularly in foreign investment prospecting and export promotion. I worked for Québec International (formerly PÔLE Québec Chaudière-Appalaches), organizing events, some of which were held at the Québec City Convention Centre. For the 400th anniversary of Québec City, I was asked to organize an economic event, and, since it was a “small” budget of $2.5 million, I hired a firm to help me with the logistical and planning aspects. At the time, this firm was called AGORA Communications, which I immediately fell in love with. I realized that organizing events all year round could be fun.

The owner was about to turn 50, and I told her it would be a great company to buy if she wasn’t so young. She said, “Let’s have lunch together and talk about it. And so, 17 months later, I was sitting in her chair. I was the owner of AGORA for 15 years and had the opportunity to acquire OPUS3, a similar company based in Montréal. We became AGORA OPUS3 and our mandate was to organize business events, mainly in the pharmaceutical field, and international conferences.

ANN CANTN:
What was your first impression when you arrived at the Québec City Convention Centre on April 8, 2024?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I was filled with a sense of pride; I felt I’d arrived where I belonged. It was the culmination of my career path; the junction between economic development and the organization of business events, as if I had accumulated all the strings to my bow to be able to occupy the position of President and CEO of the Québec City Convention Centre. I also felt a warm welcome from many people because I know both the subcontractors’ teams and the administrative ones, having worked with all of them in previous years.

ANN CANTN:
Since your arrival, we’ve heard you say how much you wanted this position. What attracted you most to the position of CEO of the Québec City Convention Centre?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I felt it was a logical extension of my career path: prospecting for foreign investment means selling the Québec City region to companies so that they will set up here, and at the Québec City Convention Centre, we do much the same thing, we promote our destination. My motivation was to keep up this momentum, which consists both in achieving a certain degree of self-financing, but also in promoting a region and fostering its economic development, through events rather than investments.

 ANN CANTN:
What do you see as your first project as the new CEO?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
First of all, I have to say that I’m coming into a house in order. Sometimes you take on a job and then find out what the challenges are, but here everything is in order: the team is mature and autonomous, things are running smoothly, the Centre’s reputation is good, and clients are satisfied. So, I’ve arrived in really pleasant, fertile ground. I believe my role will be to give new impetus to the Centre, with slightly more innovative ways of doing things. Perhaps my first task will be to create a new version of Québec City Business Destination, as this organization has already been in operation for 10 years. The time is right to review certain ways of operating and perhaps even expand the mandate. There’s also a great strategic planning process coming up for the Québec City Convention Centre, and I see this as a good opportunity to involve all stakeholders and visualize the next 3 to 5 years together.

ANN CANTN:
The brand identity of the Convention Centre is “Anything but Conventional”. What will we discover from Caroline Lepage in the coming weeks or months that is anything but conventional?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I’m actually a sports and outdoor girl, I love the forest and logging.

ANN CANTN:
If I were to ask you today: where will the Québec City Convention Centre be in 5 years, what would your answer be?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
On the one hand, I’d like the Convention Centre to be a key venue for the government to hold its events in the heart of the Capitale-Nationale. We feel that this priority may have slipped a little in recent years, yet it’s only natural that almost all government activities should be held here, in the Capitale-Nationale. I’d like to see our government make this a reality within the next 5 years. On the other hand, the Convention Centre is anything but conventional and has often been recognized as innovative, and I’d like to accentuate this aspect even more so that other industry players look to us as being in the vanguard and a model to follow.

Québec City Convention Centre

ANN CANTN:
What is your best memory of the Centre while you were PCO? (professional conference organizer)

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I have many! Like tearing down rooms in Crocs because our feet were too sore at the end of events or eating at the control table with technicians during galas.

ANN CANTN:
Do you remember the first event you organized?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
It’s hard to remember because I’ve organized quite a few, but maybe the first Futurallia symposium in 2003. One thing’s for sure, there’s not a room I haven’t rented at the Convention Centre!

Hall principal du Centre des congrès de Québec, le jour.

ANN CANTN:
Now let’s have a quick round of questions, just for fun and to get to know you better. What’s your favorite restaurant around the Convention Centre?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I like the restaurant Le Hobbit on Saint-Jean Street.

ANN CANTN:
What’s your favorite place in Québec City?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I’m a runner and I love to jog on the Plains of Abraham, I never get tired of it!

ANN CANTN:
Are you a winter, summer or fall person, and why? I skip spring because it’s always a bit grey…

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
Winter, because the activities we enjoy during this season are my favorites. And I think there’s no sky more beautiful than a blue sky on a cold winter’s day. The smell of winter, the crunch of snow – I’m a winter enthusiast! Especially since I sat on the board of directors of the Québec Winter Carnival for 5 years, so you must be convinced!

ANN CANTN:
Are you more of a wine, gin, beer, or non-alcoholic type, and why?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
All of the above, except sweet cocktails.

ANN CANTN:
BBQ, traditional stews or ordered dishes?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
I’d say stews because they smell good in the house and make it welcoming.

ANN CANTIN:
Jogging, boxing, or swimming?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
Jogging. I’ve done 1 marathon and a few half-marathons. The challenge in marathons isn’t getting to the finish line, it’s getting to the start line, because that requires a lot of training.

ANN CANTIN:
Salmon fishing, Paris, or the beaches of Maine?

CAROLINE LEPAGE:
It depends on the phases of my life. There was Paris for several years because I often had business in France, then the beaches of Maine when my son was younger, and now salmon fishing.

ANN CANTIN:
Thank you very much Ms. Lepage for this very interesting conversation.

You May Also Like

Salon international du livre de Québec 2023
Behind the Scenes of the Salon International du Livre de Québec 2024

Learn more about the Salon international du livre de Québec 2024 in this exclusive interview!

  • Case Studies
  • Events
  • Services
More Details
Speech by ambassador Luc Vallières as he received the 2023 Event of the Year award at the Hommage aux ambassadeurs 2024 evening.
Positive Impact of the International Congress of Neuroimmunology 2023 in Québec City

The 16th International Congress of Neuroimmunology 2023 generated impressive results for Québec City.

  • Case Studies
  • Event Ambassadors
  • Key Industries
More Details
Sustainable Development at the Heart of the OWHC World Congress

From September 6 to 9, 2022, the Québec City Convention Centre hosted the 16th World Congress of the Organization of World Heritage Cities (OWHC), organized by City of Québec.

  • Case Studies
  • Sustainability
More Details