Victor Montagliani is a man who wears many hats: he’s senior vice-president of insurance broker Shaw Sabey by day, and president of the Canadian Soccer Association, president of CONCACAF and vice-president at FIFA by night. He explains how to balance career and volunteer obligations:
My two partners, Brad Shantz and Alex Meier, and I, we’re the board of directors of the Vertical Insurance Group, which owns a series of brokerages in Canada, Shaw Sabey being only one of them. We have eight other offices under various retail brand names. On the board, we deal with strategic things, like acquisitions. And then I have my own clients. I’m advising them from a risk management perspective.
I’ve been an executive in international football about 10 years. Getting elected president of CONCACAF [the 41-nation arm of the world soccer federation representing North and Central America and the Caribbean, in May] just means it involves more travel and more conversations across time zones. I’m in Vancouver, the Canadian Soccer Association is in Ottawa, FIFA is in Zurich and CONCACAF is in Miami. So we’re pretty well scattered.
Fortunately I’ve always lived on five hours’ sleep, even back when I was a kid. Jet lag and early phone calls are not a problem for me. In today’s world people are connected. It’s easy to stay in touch. It is long days all the time, though. It’s not an eight-hour shift. It’s more like a 12- to 14-hour shift.
The key, for me, is that I have a very good team both on the insurance side—assistants and account managers who can deal with a lot of the day-to-day things—and on the football side. And I have an excellent assistant, probably the best in the business.
I multitask, absolutely. Whether in my businesses or in football, it’s hard to tell people, “Wait, it’s Monday, when I don’t deal with this.” I have no choice but to multitask.
One thing I’ve learned is to ensure my communication skills are beyond reproach. Not only do I have to communicate, I have to overcommunicate. I make sure that what I’m communicating is clear, concise and consistent. That way I’m not duplicating things—I don’t have people saying, “I thought you meant this,” which leads to having to redo it or rethink it. I don’t have time for that.
I’m sometimes bluntly to the point. I’m very candid. I can’t afford not to be candid. You have to be polite; being candid doesn’t mean being rude. But if I have to tell somebody some bad news I don’t beat around the bush. I get right to it. I say, “This is the way it is. This is the decision that was made. Here are the outcomes. Deal with it.” I’m respectful of people’s feelings and opinions, but I don’t have a lot of time for small talk.