Meet Marc Sauriol: Client Services Director

Client Services Director

Marc believes in the power of design to fundamentally transform business.

As Client Services Director, he works closely with our partners to champion design and organization best practices. When he’s not in the office you can find Marc tooling around in a classic sports car and reminiscing about his days in the music industry and concert touring with 80s pop stars.

What is an example of an innovative business you admire?

Video gaming. It’s incredible how this industry has evolved since I was a kid. Young people can be a tough market and gaming companies have figured out what they want and how to appeal to them. I have a kid and he plays a lot with his friends, and I see how gaming companies keep them engaged and advancing. This is interesting to me because Smart Design is involved in a long-term project with a client to better understand how teens interact online [our initiative with Meta] so this is a topic I am invested in on a personal level.

How has the shift to hybrid working conditions affected client-partner communications?

Pandemic lockdowns were challenging, but Smart Design didn’t skip a beat when it came to communicating with our client partners and delivering great work remotely. We learned that being flexible is key. You take the pulse of how our partners want to communicate and adapt to that situation. If that means getting on a plane, we go. I’m actually on the road right now visiting a client partner in Texas, and I’ve still been in remote meetings with team members in our Brooklyn studio. “As innovation leaders rediscover the value of talking face-to-face, I’ve found that conversations are better than ever.”

In client services, you must know how to read the room, be empathetic, and connect with people.

Do you still attend conferences?

Conferences are coming back and it’s exciting to see people on stage again instead of on Zoom. Most importantly, it gives us a chance to meet our partners and deepen our relationship with them. Even better is when we can be on stage with them exchanging ideas in front of an audience. It’s all part of Smart Design’s long history of supporting our partners wherever they are.

What advice do you have for people starting in client services?

Be authentic and keep it real when dealing with people. In client services, you must know how to read the room, and be empathetic. I like to think I’m a guy on their team too. For conversation starters, don’t talk about business right off the bat. Start with something personal, your interests and hobbies, or your favorite music artist. I was in the entertainment business so I can celebrity name-drop and tell some stories, which is great— especially if they know 80s pop music.

We’re meeting clients in person again and the conversations are longer than ever as innovation leaders rediscover the value of talking face-to-face.

What is the best thing you’ve learned from another business leader?

We Canadians are used to saying “sorry” when it’s not necessary. One of our clients—the innovation leader of a major beverage company—once said to me, there’s no need to default to apologizing. The message was this: it’s okay to have your voice heard and that has always stuck with me in client relations and leading teams.

On a personal note, tell us about what you’re doing in your free time.

Along with playing tennis and watching my son’s basketball games, I like taking my 1983 Porsche 911 for a spin. It’s a timeless design icon and a thrill to drive. And I love how other drivers let me in the lane when they see me coming. I also just bought my first EV, a Mini Cooper SE and it’s exciting to drive and be part of this new frontier in technology.

About Marc Sauriol

As Client Services Director at Smart Design, Marc oversees a broad range of creative initiatives and partnerships across categories including CPG, Medical, and Technology. Previously, he managed major events across North America for artists and record labels while working at Clear Channel/Live Nation. Marc holds a BBA from Parsons School for Design Management and a Post-Graduate Certification in Event Management from Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada.

Let’s design a smarter world together