Executive Education

Peer Talk Profile: Camille Beaufils

Imagine you’re a film photographer whose business is being undercut by digital. What do you do? To make lemons out of lemonade, you position your film work as more special than digital, then charge a premium for it.

That’s one of the lessons Camille Beaufils, board account director at ad agency Atelier Leo Burnett, learned from a classmate during a course in the University of Chicago Booth School of Business Executive Education Program.

“It was really interesting to hear how frustration could become a huge opportunity,” says Beaufils, a participant in Booth’s Accelerated Development Program in London. “It's the same thing that we're doing: How do we embrace the digital media landscape? How do we benefit from it? In advertising, you can only embrace digital because our target is millennials.”

The Executive Education Program attracts a wide variety of managers whose stories provide real-life lessons on leading through change.

“It was really interesting to hear what other people have to say,” Beaufils says. “And it's really interesting to hear what people do in different industries as well as in different countries. So it’s a lot of, 'How did this go? What did you think? What did you do?' And there's a lot of camaraderie, there’s a lot of exchange I would say.”

And it’s not just the classmates students learn from, of course.

“I was quite amazed at how personable the professors were,” Beaufils says of professors Ronald S. Burt, Richard Leftwich, Ann McGill, Douglas J. Skinner, and Chad Syverson. “They quickly grasped what industries we come from, and that made the learning much more tangible. They were not just cookie-cutter classes. And afterward, some of the professors stayed to chat with us. I didn’t expect that.”

The mother of an energetic 2-year-old, Beaufils, who grew up in Panama and France, wanted to be an ambassador working in a nation’s consulate while growing up. She sees her leadership role at Atelier Leo Burnett in somewhat the same way.

“I'm extremely collaborative," she says. "You must be in account management and advertising agencies because you need to lead a whole set of departments, from creative to producers to finance. All of these different entities within an agency have very different profiles and very different ways of working, so I have to be flexible and collaborative while driving my own agenda.”

She continues: “I represent a brand actually and I have to think for that brand and I have to make decisions for that brand. So, maybe in the end I actually ended up somewhere pretty close to what I wanted to do when I was 14.”