Get to know the Magpies: Meet our Founder Jean Clavelle
Ever wondered how The Magpie Group came into being? Well, today, we're taking you behind the scenes to meet our founder and share the story of our journey, our roots in agriculture, and what makes us tick.
Meet Jean Clavelle,
Co-Founder and Director of Business Strategy at The Magpie Group
Jean grew up on a farm near Viscount, Saskatchewan, where she became invested in AG at a young age. She earned a BSA from the College of Ag and an MSc from the WCVM and has been working and communicating for agribusinesses ever since.
Applying her education and experiences to help clients communicate technical topics with their audiences is her passion. Today she uses her knowledge in problem-solving customer challenges, creating clarity in messaging and strategic planning to support Magpie clients in achieving their goals.
Jean now lives on an acreage south of Clavet with her husband, two horses, one sneaky pony, three children, two dogs and several cats.
Q: How did Magpie get started?
A: It all began when Kim and I crossed paths in the world of AG communications. We hit it off working together, but as life usually goes, we went our separate ways, wishing each other well in our respective endeavours. Fate, however, had other plans. Kim reached out six months later with a proposition to partner on a project – snapAG by Agriculture in the Classroom Canada (AITC). The project's success set the stage, and in 2017, we officially launched Magpie Marketing SK.
Those initial years were a challenge, but our trust in each other and our belief that what we were doing was important kept us going. Today, I'm thrilled that what seemed like an impossible ambition back then has turned into a satisfying and fulfilling career. It doesn't even feel like a job because I truly love what we do.
Q: Why Magpie?
A: Great question! We wanted a name that would stick in people's minds. Magpies... you either love 'em or you don't. But they're a prairie staple. When we introduce our company, we either get "Why would you name your business after a magpie?!" OR "Love the name; it's so creative!" There's no middle ground.
It certainly accomplishes the task of sparking a conversation!
Q: What is your background in agriculture?
A: I grew up on a mixed grain farm and feedlot about an hour east of Saskatoon. The century farm was large-ish for the time as it supported four families, with my dad and his brothers working together. Every cousin worked there growing up, from helping with silage and coral cleaning to harvesting, checking pens and running the feed truck. Farming was just a part of every day.
My journey led me from contemplating veterinary studies (loved the science but after a while I realized I didn't want to see animals in pain), to diving into animal AG. A Master's degree at the vet college sealed my love for the science behind farming.
Q: What's your favourite part of the job?
A: I thoroughly enjoy digging into what makes a business unique. Many clients struggle to express their passion and expertise without feeling like it's boastful – Saskatchewan agriculture is characteristically humble. It's exciting to unearth their special qualities because when we can capture and explain what makes them exceptional, it really helps them take off. It's energizing to explain how a business is uniquely individual.
Q: What is your ideal project?
A: Every project – and client – brings something new and special. But when we get to start at the beginning by developing core messaging and then take them through to a first successful campaign, that's something really special. It's satisfying working with a growing team that knows they're offering something special to the industry but struggling to articulate how. It's great being able to help them find their voice, explain their areas of excellence, and fuel their growth. Once the language is in place, everything else (sales, communications, operations) flows more smoothly, and being able to support these teams on their journey is a terrific feeling.
Q: What was your favourite farm job growing up?
A: Oddly enough, driving the silage truck (even though my 17-year-old self wouldn't have believed it). Those long, hot summer days, the smell of diesel and chopped barley in the air – it's a memory that still brings a smile to my face. Even now, at 46, I still love rainy days because they remind me of the rare breaks we got back then.
Q: How do you pass on your love of AG to your kids?
A: The farm sold when our oldest was a year old, but I know each one of my kids would have loved the experience. Having worked with the range of clients we have has given me such an appreciation for just how broad the opportunities are within the industry. I hope my kids understand these possibilities when choosing their career paths.
Q: What's the future you envision for Magpie?
A: I truly see nothing but potential, and I'm tremendously excited about the years to come. I envision expansion, both in team and reach. Currently, our business supports three families, and my hope is to bring on more inquiring minds who share our passion. Here's to Magpie's continued growth and making a difference in the world of agriculture!
And that's a wrap on this candid Q&A session! We're grateful for our journey, our partnership and the chance to make a positive impact in the AG industry. If you're curious or need a hand, don't hesitate to reach out. We're here to chat!
Contact Jean directly:
LinkedIn: Jean Clavelle