Daniel Lamarre steps down as Cirque du Soleil CEO and president

Cirque du Soleil announces longtime CEO and President Daniel Lamarre is stepping down. Tuesday November 30th, 2021. Jonah Aspler / Global News

After 20 years of leading the Cirque du Soleil – one of the most famous circuses in the world – Daniel Lamarre is stepping down as president and CEO.

He is passing the baton onto Stéphane Lefebvre who had been operating as the company’s Chief Financial Officer for the past five years.

Lamarre will transition to the role of executive vice-chairman of the board, where he is expected to “leverage his unique relationships with key partners and communities to strengthen existing partnerships and drive new growth projects,” according to the organization.

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“First of all, I’m not getting younger,” Lamarre, 68, said laughing. “It was not only my decision but it was my recommendation. So I really pushed for that transition plan to be in place because I’m not looking short-term. I’m looking mid-term.”

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Lamarre says there is only one way to learn to be a CEO, and that is to be a CEO.

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“I thought Stéphane moving in as a CEO and counting on my presence full-time for a while, I think is the best scenario.”

During the announcement, Lamarre was questioned why he would choose someone with a financial background to lead a company that has always put creativity at the foreground.

“I recommended a leader that will put together the right conditions to support the creative people,” Lamarre responded.

In his new role, Lefebvre will be tasked with expanding the company’s global presence.

“I’m a CPA (accountant) by trade but I have more than a finance background. I have a lot of interests in arts and what the creative team’s capabilities are,” Lefebvre responded.

“I feel very fortunate to have the chance to participate in the revival of our shows around the globe. I thank Daniel and the members of the Board of Directors for their trust and support. Daniel’s tireless enthusiasm and drive transformed our company, and his tremendous leadership is responsible for growing Cirque du Soleil into the proud entertainment industry leader it is today. I am very humbled to take on this role and continue to build on his legacy.”

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The change comes a little more than a year after the company, which was forced to cancel shows and lay off thousands of workers due to the pandemic, was acquired by a group of its creditors led by Catalyst Capital Group.

Lefebvre begins his duties on Dec. 1.

-With files from The Canadian Press

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