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As CEO of Vodafone UK, Guy Laurence did away with executive offices and eliminated the dress code.

ALFONS LENDERS/SMILE FOTOGRAFIE

Rogers Communications Inc.'s new chief executive officer is hoping to get an earful from some of the company's more than 20,000 employees.

Guy Laurence, the British telecom executive who took the helm on Monday, plans to spend his first few months on the job travelling across Canada meeting with employees to hear their suggestions on improving the company. And he'll do more than passively listen – Rogers insiders say he'll use those ideas to build his plan.

"I will say, he brings … a different type of relationship with the employee," Charles Sirois, a Rogers director who was on the search committee to select the new CEO, said in an interview.

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"He's quite fascinated with [Generation Y] – how to work with that new generation and all that. He tried a lot of things that worked, and some that didn't work, to attract and retain that generation, which is important … if you are in the wireless field and in the field of communication."

Mr. Laurence, 52, most recently worked as the CEO of Vodafone UK Ltd. There, he confronted many of the same challenges Rogers now faces, and resorted to off-the-wall antics to rejuvenate the corporate culture. He got rid of executive offices, eliminated the dress code, shook up the senior ranks and cut costs – moves that not only raised eyebrows but the company's profitability.

When asked which of those "curious experiences," as Mr. Sirois put it, left the biggest impression, he pointed to Mr. Laurence's decisions to do away with offices and put more focus on employee tasks than on the time it takes to get them done.

"In my generation, it was important that you pass eight hours at the office … independent of the task. Sometimes you know people are there and they do nothing, but they are there," Mr. Sirois said with a chuckle. "So, maybe it is more important to say, 'This is the task that you have to do – and you can do it from home.'"

Mr. Sirois continued: "He tried many different flexible hours, the way the office is designed … asking them to do a mission more than to perform a job … respecting the value of their family and social network … I find that a fascinating angle for a CEO of a very large group in the U.K."

Mr. Laurence, who begins his cross-country tour this week, also plans to meet with Rogers customers and other key stakeholders. Inside Rogers, there is a recognition the it needs to remain nimble, especially in a maturing telecom market. "When an organization gets large, normally it loses some of its innovation capacity. How you balance that is always a challenge," Mr. Sirois said.

Although hopes are high that Mr. Laurence will spark corporate cultural change, it is unclear what he might do at Rogers. Mr. Sirois said he does not know if he plans to get rid of offices and the dress code.

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"I don't think it was part of my preoccupation on the [search] committee if he will decide to dress with running shoes or not. I was more fascinated by the fact that he entertained those kinds of cultural changes," he said. "This is not something that I am particularly expecting, I am just saying that was a dimension that was a part of his CEO personality."

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