Features

Francine Dupuis – Koozie Group 

Navigating the business of promotional products  

In Harper Lee’s iconic novel, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” Atticus Finch is portrayed as a principled and courageous lawyer who fights for justice in a deeply segregated and unjust society. Atticus’s unwavering belief in fighting for what is right and his dedication to helping the marginalized inspires many, including lawyers who strive to make a difference in the legal profession. Francine Dupuis says she aspired to be a lawyer after reading about Atticus’s remarkable character and actions—now, she is chief legal officer for Koozie Group 

Francine Dupuis | Chief Legal Officer | Koozie Group 

Francine Dupuis | Chief Legal Officer | Koozie Group

“Both my dad, who was an in-house lawyer, and Atticus sparked my curiosity in the legal field and inspired me to pursue a career helping others and solving problems related to law,” Dupuis says.  

Dupuis plays an important role in one of the promotional products industry’s major players, overseeing legal matters and contributing to the success and sustainability of a diverse portfolio of brands. With a history rooted in her journey from BIC Graphic North America to Koozie Group, Dupuis’s transformative leadership has been marked by a strategic rebranding, reflecting the organization’s shift in focus. 

In her capacity as CLO, Dupuis navigates a wide spectrum of responsibilities. From due diligence and contract reviews to managing intellectual property portfolios and agreements, she oversees outside counsel, tackles labor and employment issues, and took on additional HR responsibilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Her strategic focus on protecting the Koozie trademark and recent product safety and sustainability endeavors showcase her adaptability and forward-thinking approach. 

“I believe in steering the course with resilience and strategic foresight, safeguarding the essence of our brands while championing sustainable and responsible practices in the ever-evolving landscape of the promotional products industry,” Dupuis says. 

It’s a promotion 

In response to the transformative shifts in the promotional product landscape driven by social media, Dupuis acknowledges and emphasizes the industry’s transition from traditional approaches to real-time advertising on platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Her keen insights into this paradigm shift extend beyond its operational impact, recognizing its potential for fostering innovative marketing strategies and significantly enhancing customer engagement. 

Francine Dupuis | Chief Legal Officer | Koozie Group 

Highlighting Dupuis’s project achievements provides a deeper understanding of her impactful contributions, particularly through her involvement in challenging yet rewarding acquisitions. These endeavors underscore her adeptness in navigating complex integrations, showcasing a strategic mindset beyond the ordinary. 

An ongoing initiative spearheaded by Dupuis reflects the company’s commitment to ethical practices and sustainability. The pursuit of Fair Labor Association (FLA) certification aligns with Koozie Group’s dedication to supply chain compliance and sustainability, demonstrating a proactive approach to industry expectations. 

Dupuis’s visionary goals for social responsibility and sustainability further reinforce her commitment, setting ambitious targets for FLA accreditation by 2025 and carbon-neutral certification for Scope 3 emissions by 2024. This unwavering dedication mirrors her proactive stance in anticipating industry shifts, exceeding customer expectations, and positioning the company at the forefront of responsible business practices. 

“In today’s promotional landscape, we’re driving innovation with real-time engagement on social media platforms. Our successful acquisitions and ongoing pursuit of Fair Labor Association and carbon-neutral certifications showcase our sustainability and industry leadership commitment. Anticipating shifts, we exceed standards, setting the bar higher for customer expectations,” Dupuis says. 

Keeping her cool 

Dupuis’s transformative influence extends beyond her traditional legal role, demonstrating a dynamic engagement in critical business dimensions. Her strategic insights were crucial when the company acquired Imagined Brands and MCM brands from EBSCO. She led the due diligence, purchase documentation and seamless integration of around 200 employees, showcasing her adeptness in navigating complex processes while prioritizing the well-being of the new workforce. 

Francine Dupuis | Chief Legal Officer | Koozie Group 

Acknowledging challenges head-on, Dupuis recognizes the constraints of managing a lean department and the perpetual struggle for time. However, her unswerving commitment remains steadfast, propelling the Koozie Group towards legal compliance, sustainability, and sustained growth. 

Dupuis’s composed demeanor in navigating complexities aligns with her dedication to environmental causes, presenting her not merely as a legal leader but as a catalyst for positive change within the organization. Her leadership style is characterized by resilience and a forward-thinking approach, transcending the boundaries of conventional legal responsibilities. 

“As a legal leader, my role extends beyond conventional boundaries. Guiding significant acquisitions and shaping our future through strategic sustainability initiatives, I navigate challenges with a commitment to compliance, growth, and positive change,” Dupuis says. 

Inspired by Atticus Finch 

Atticus Finch’s fearless and unwavering commitment to justice resonated deeply with Dupuis. Despite facing immense backlash and threats, Atticus’s willingness to challenge the status quo demonstrated to her the power of standing up for what is right, even in the face of adversity. Atticus’s humility, integrity and compassion towards all individuals, regardless of race or social standing, served as a tremendous example for Dupuis, shaping her values as he embarked on his journey to become a lawyer. 

Commencing her journey with a degree in chemical engineering from The Johns Hopkins University, Dupuis’s life took an unforeseen turn during her junior year. It was a guest speaker—a patent attorney and Johns Hopkins graduate—whose words ignited her passion for the law, leading her to pursue a JD from the Florida State University College of Law. 

The initial five years of her legal career unfolded in private practice at Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick’s Tampa office. Motivated by a desire to delve into the intricacies of business, Dupuis embraced the role of corporate counsel for Catalina Marketing Corporation. Over five and a half years, she honed her legal skills and gained an extensive understanding of corporate operations. 

The journey continued in a senior leadership role for BIC Graphic North America, where she played an important role in the company’s success for over a decade. Drawing inspiration from Atticus Finch’s principles of justice and equity, Dupuis applied her legal acumen to shape corporate strategies. 

In December 2020, Dupuis assumed her present position as chief legal officer at Koozie Group, bringing a wealth of experience and insights to shape the legal landscape of the organization.  

Beyond the confines of the boardroom, Dupuis is a mom, wife, sister and daughter. Her love for the outdoors is manifested in shared family activities, while her passion for family and friends, especially cheering on her son in hockey and soccer, illustrates a well-rounded individual dedicated to professional excellence and a fulfilling personal life. 

“Atticus Finch is compassionate, moral, consistent, good, and wise. These are the attributes that I strive to exhibit daily in my personal and professional life. If I can achieve that, I can handle anything life throws my way,” Dupuis says.  

View this feature in the Vanguard Spring I 2024 Edition here.

 

Published on: March 13, 2024

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