It was clear at the New Year’s Levée hosted by Compass Rose on Thursday that the Ottawa-based public affairs firm doesn’t need a bucket list of resolutions; it needs only to stay the course in 2023.
Compass Rose is on a roll, as recognized in a framed letter of congratulations for its seven years in business, signed and hand delivered by Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, on behalf of Ottawa City Council. The mayoral letter also gives a special thanks to the leadership team at Compass Rose for continuing to invest in Ottawa and, in particular, the historic ByWard Market where the business office is located.
Compass Rose was founded in 2015 by principal and public affairs counsellor Jacqueline “Jacquie” LaRocque. In 2022, she was named one of Canada’s top 100 most powerful women, in the entrepreneur category, by the Women’s Executive Network. Her 21-person team includes Marci Surkes, former director of policy for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and former long-time Bloomberg News journalist Theo Argitis. He’s weeks into his new role as managing director.
When it’s time to increase prices, it can be a delicate subject, as businesses don’t want to alienate their customer base or appear opportunistic.
Compass Rose decided to hold a reception to celebrate the year to come, as opposed to cramming its party into the busy period before the holidays. “The week prior to Christmas, we gave our team time off,” LaRocque explained to OBJ.social. “Our goal was to have a chance and an opportunity to regroup after the holidays to celebrate together in the new year.”
Among the guests of the New Year’s Levée were CPAC’s new president and CEO, Christa Dickenson; Agnes Augustin, president and CEO of the Shaw Rocket Fund, Annabelle Cloutier, executive director of communications and public affairs and corporate secretary at the National Arts Centre, and Wayne Liko, managing partner of Kanata-based workplace management solutions provider Horizant (the last time OBJ.social saw Liko was in 2018, when he was in a boxing ring, fighting Jeff Westeinde at cancer charity fundraiser Fight for the Cure). Also in the crowd was Rosemarie Thompson, executive director of Coalition for a Better Future, a think tank co-chaired by former cabinet ministers Lisa Raitt and Anne McLellan. Thompson is based out of the Compass Rose office and has a close working relationship with the firm.
Argitis, who officially joined Nov. 28th, has taken a leadership role in the growth strategy of Compass Rose, including the development of business segments focused on content, communications and thought leadership.
“It’s all Jacquie’s vision,” the married father of six told OBJ.social at the reception, held at 1 York St. and catered by Stephen Beckta’s Play Food + Wine, located in the same building. “Jacquie decided that she was going to make Compass Rose a major player in this town, as far as GR (government relations) is concerned, and to be very innovative and do things that no one in this town is doing.”
Argitis and LaRocque’s friendship goes back to when he first moved to Ottawa in 2005 to become the Ottawa bureau chief role at Bloomberg News. She’d been director of communications for Jim Peterson, when he was minister of international trade.
Argitis said he took the managing director job at Compass Rose because he felt the work was exciting and interesting, and that he’d learn something new.
“I love Bloomberg. I mean, Bloomberg is family to me,” said Argitis, who was at the reception with four former colleagues. “Jacquie has given me this opportunity to do something different …I just felt it was too good of an opportunity to pass up.”
While the celebration welcomed back a couple of returning team members who’d been off on leaves, Kathleen Walsh and Bea Vongdouangchanh, it was also a send-off for DG Stringer, who recently left Compass Rose to become principal secretary to the city’s new mayor. “I love it,” he told OBJ.social of the job. “There’s a lot to do but it’s exciting.”
Taking over his parliamentary monitoring role is public affairs counsellor Tajwar Mazhar.