Meet our Members
Béatrice de Clermont Tonnerre is shaping the digital industry from her position as head of Business Development at Lagardère, a French Media conglomerate, and as member of the board of Lagardère’s digital companies. Béatrice graduated from the Institute of Political Studies in Paris, but pursued a career in the media and high-tech industry, being one of the first media leaders to sign IPTV programme deals in France. She also has an MBA from the Ecole Supérieure des Sciences Economiques et Commerciales and besides her work, she sits on the Board of French American Cultural Exchange (FACE), a foundation promoting contemporary art in the US and France.
How did you get started? What took you to where you are today?
I thought I would be a journalist, but then I had to pay for my studies. I joined Lagardère at an interesting time, when the European high tech industry was consolidating and Lagardère was a key player in it. Then the group shifted its investments to its fully controlled media businesses and high growth sectors such as digital and sports rights. There was so much work to do that even at junior levels one could contribute to very stimulating projects.
How have you changed or how has the work environment for women changed since you first started working?
All types of remote access to the work environment (for instance broadband internet access, laptop, and smartphone), are helping women. Technology has extended women’s working capacity and helped them bridge the gap between them and men, who receive more help for other aspects of their lives.
What management issues are driving your work?
The media industry is going through some turbulence in terms of consumer habits and product shifts. The industry is, all at once, consolidating its value proposition around brands, becoming IT-oriented and testing many different ways of generating cash through digital growth. One of the key issues in management is to integrate digital teams to fuel in growth and improved profitability. Getting key talent interested in the challenge and building a sustainable digital transformation within a highly competitive environment is forcing us to review our management skills around transparency, reactivity and clear strategic goals.
How can women be encouraged to take leadership roles?
Setting examples is the most efficient way. If you give women senior management positions and allow them to take chances, it opens the way.
How do you define being successful?
Being keen in the morning to get through the day ahead, and feeling that, day after day, you're contributing to something significant for yourself, your family and your community as a working person and citizen.
What are the achievements you are most proud of?
I'm generally quick at adapting to changing environments. Significant industrial achievements are usually the result of good team dynamics. Several times, I have been part of these "dream team" kind of commando dynamics, but I specifically enjoyed inventing concepts to get exclusive IPTV channel deals signed for Canalsatellite with Hollywood Studios. I had to define the network: internet technology in a closed environment, limited piracy risks. In four months I got 80 channel deals signed. But I feel the more significant achievements are ahead. I belong to the transition generation in the industry: trained in old media and comfortable with digital media dynamics. In the coming years I want to use this understanding of long-term industrial processes and to match them with decision-making in a fuzzy environment.
Some of our readers are "mentees" - young women at the beginning of their careers. Could you share with them one story that inspired you when setting up new initiatives?
In any difficult situation there is a way up. Even when you feel everyone around you is far more experienced and skilled than you, there is something you can do better than others. I started at 23 as a strategy analyst in the high tech sector. I was not an engineer and not that fond of high tech. So I found two ways to get a grip on my work: first, work on extracting useful, replicable organization cases from industry benchmarks; and, second, use my memory to become a kind of living encyclopedia of high tech acronyms in French and English. In the end, my exec summaries caught management attention and I could interact in important meetings.
And, lastly, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I read all kinds of literature in French, English and Spanish, and recently I went back to fencing. During my holidays, I go mountain hiking. And of course I'm building a huge list of things I'll do when I have time to.
Re-elected Member of the European Parliament, Edit Herczog is a promoter of research and development and e-skills. In the previous legislature, Edit has promoted research and development initiatives by looking at ways to lower the energy use in Europe, to sustain the competitiveness of SMEs and to drive forward the e-skills agenda.
Before entering politics in 1998 as a member of the Hungarian National Assembly and before being a delegate at the Council of Europe, Edit has worked both in academic researches and in an international business environment, developing solutions for the food industry. Adding the degrees achieved in engineering, in business management and in language and literature, it is certain that Edit can serve as a role model for many younger women.
How did you get started? What got you into politics?
I was 24 when the political system changed in all countries in Central and Eastern Europe. It turned out for me that if you want to make responsible decisions for your own life you have to follow and try to influence the changes around you. My values were closer to socialist values and my way to deliver a change way determined, coordinated evolution rather than conflict and revolution.
What are the personal achievements you are most proud of?
My life is not a rocky hill with tops and downs. It is rather a continuous effort to work for issues that are important to me: energy and telecom package, services directive, Small Business Act, REACH, Lisbon Strategy and the maximization of working places.
When I started we were targeting a quota. Today we have to find a new target to get beyond. I am proud that in my party three women led the European Parliament list. It is certainly a socialist value.
How can women be encouraged to take leadership roles, particularly in politics?
My grandmother gave me a piece of advice for my marriage and this secret works for politics as well: work hard, keep your principles and have fun. These are the success keys for women in politics, too.
How do you balance work and life?
Work is part of my life as well as my family, my pets, my books and my household. Same rules: work, fun and balance are the keys.
Some of our readers are "mentees", young women at the beginning of their careers. Could you share with them whatt had inspired you when starting new initiatives?
Firstly, the most important is to learn that yesterday's yourself is your hardest competitor you have to win. Secondly, it is better to be alone with the truth than being with everybody and being wrong. Finally, the help and the added value you received once from someone important in your life you have to give it back to someone else younger.
Books, pets, garden.
Isabella is an energetic and dedicated entrepreneur. She is currently putting into practice ideas such as JUMP Forum and Women’s Academy that serve to women’s development and contribute to promoting women as leaders in our society.
I started as an entrepreneur when I still was at the University. I launched a monthly magazine and would never have thought that it could become a real business with books, fairs, goodie bags... I sold my first company 7 years later and rebuilt others afterwards. I have many projects and a lot of these become companies. One of it is "JUMP: empowering women, advancing the economy" because I wanted to offer medias and services to career-minded women!
What did you have to sacrifice to get where you are, if anything?
I really LOVE to work. I create my own projects and solutions not as an artist but as an entrepreneur. But the feeling and the passion are the same! I have 3 children and ... had two husbands! Do you really think that I sacrifice something important, even if I'm working 80 hours a week? My children are happy because I am happy. Being satisfied and not feeling guilty enables me to give the best of myself to my children. The only thing that I could do more is taking care of my body by sleeping more, going to the hairdresser, beautician and doing sport. But I'll have time to do that when I am older (perhaps!).
How how has the work environment changed since you first started working?
The new generations of the labour market are less dedicated. I have a problem by accepting it because my ambition is to change the world thanks to my working force and it is strange to me that not everybody has the same ambition. I have to work a lot on myself!
Success is doing the right thing for me at the right moment. This gives a marvelous sensation. Everybody has a "mission" and to fulfill it is the key to happiness.
Am I balanced? Certainly not according to the majority of women. Balance has absolutely no importance when you do the right job because you will always have enough energy to give to the others.
What advice would you give to someone else starting up her career?
Dare!! Whatever you do, do it totally. Do the right thing to you ... only to you! And remember that what is right now, can change several times.
And finally, what do you do in your spare time?
Which spare time? ;-))
Pinnuccia was born in Catania, Italy, in 1967 and graduated with a degree in international politics in 1990. She joined the European Commission one year later.
At the end of 2004 Pinuccia joined the cabinet of Commissioner for Education and Culture JanFigel where she was in charge of covers lifelong learning policy and all issues concerning universities, including the Bologna process, the European Institute for Innovation and Technology (EIT) and the Erasmus program.
Since May 2009, Pinuccia has been Head of Unit Multilingualism and translation studies in the Directorate-General for Translation. Her mission is to develop an active approach to multilingualism and translation all over the Commission.
Being successful to me means being able to realise one's calling in all the aspects of life: a "complete" and balanced person, who has built enriching and sustainable relationships, has a fulfilling professional life and ... has some dreams left till the end of his/her life!
Do you have a mentor? If so what role did they play?
After my parents, my mentors were some great writers (for instance Proust, Dante and Shakespeare). Since I started my career, I realised how much it was important to have a senior mentor, even though in my case I could count more on a kind of network of wise people than on one or two mentors. That's why I have volunteered as a mentor in the WILT initiative: I believe it can be very useful to young women who are at a turning point in their life and/or career.
I started with my "European calling" a long time ago. I was still at school when I came across the (then so-called) "Common Market". I felt attracted by this concept, which involved replacing war and violence with openness, cooperation and mutual understanding. From there on, my strategic (cultural and educational) choices were highly influenced by this perspective. Of course, I also needed determination, hard work and self-confidence - I am not too bad at those ;-). The result was that just after graduating I started working in the Commission - and I have not changed my mind since!
The only thing I had to sacrifice was the possibility to live in Italy. When I say that I am Italian, I generally receive a sympathetic look from my interlocutor, who inevitably adds: "Oh, it must be so tough for you here, without sunshine...". I reply that I travel a lot and work so hard that I do not have the time to realise how much sunshine I lack here. So after all it is not such a big sacrifice!
How have you changed/ or how has the work environment changed since you first started working?
I started working in the Commission in 1991, clearly a lot has changed since. Europe has become more Europe - in the sense that history has put back together the two pieces of the continent. Working in a European Union of 27 Member States is of course more complex than in a Community of 12, as it was the case in 1991 when I started, but at the same time is very challenging. Many will say that the more you get experienced, the less you become enthousiastic: I can tell you that it is not necessarily so, I continue to believe in Europe and I know plenty of excellent colleagues who do the same.
I balance work and private life (I have three children) very well, thanks to 1) a wonderful man, my husband, who has no gender bias whatsoever ; 2) a professional climate which has evolved a lot since 1991 and has become more and more sensitive to equal opportunities in the Commission, and 3) my determination to comply fully with my responsibilities both at work and at home. I believe that it is possible. Of course, this means that sometimes you have to make difficult choices, but if your priorities are clear and you have the courage to take (sometimes) tough decisions and stick to them, there is no problem. On the contrary, this will gain you appreciation and respect from the others.
Actually I do not have much spare time... The positive side is that I am never bored; on the other side, sometimes I would like a bit more time to read, my favourite treat. I also love cinema and theatre; I never watch TV, but I like good films. Moreover I like travelling, cultural events, sport and restaurants (I love good food, wherever it comes from).
“Under my management, I changed the way my team is looking at a chairman; I changed the way a company is managed, introducing a team goal more than individual goals.”
Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro is President of Lefebvre Software company and a leading woman in the area of IT development, being one of the founders of AFDEL, the French Association of Software Editors.
When I was 35 years old, I just realized that I deeply wanted to become more involved in my professional life. I moved from staff positions in accounting to consulting and then sales report positions and indeed, my life changed quite rapidly. The chairman of the company I was working for gave me my first management position. From that point, things have come to me one after the other, without asking. Nominated, successful, so nominated to another and more important position and so on...
I do not want to cry and anything, but I am really convinced that you can't be successful in every domain. It is really difficult to be a wife, a mother and a good professional. Not sure we can succeed on the 3 parts of the day to day components of a woman’s life. My kids and my jobs were the 2 focus of my life up to the days my kids became independent and now I can enjoy my relationship with them without sacrificing my professional part.
How have you changed or how has the work environment changed since you first started working?
Pressure, speed, communications.... too many things changed in the last 20 years. Under my management, I changed the way my team is looking at a chairman; I changed the way a company is managed by introducing a team goal more than individual goals.How do you define being successful?
When your staff, not only your direct reports, recognize you as the manager they're happy to work with, feel being part of a team, are able to explain the company’s strategy (means there is one!!!)... call you for your birthday, are proud to promote their company and colleagues... and at the end of the day, the numbers come and the shareholders are happy... It is simple, isn’t it?
Better now than I did in the past. The more you feel yourself comfortable, the best you can manage you lifetime and share.
The secret? To have a good management team.
What advice would you give to someone else starting up/ working in this career?
Work hard, stay pragmatic, listen to the technicians but decide with your logic. Give consideration to your customer and be tough but right.
With your staff be tough at work but close to them if anything happened in their life to help them if it is possible.Consider the high level management not as a position but as a mean to achieve goals by applying your ideas.
My grand daughter, my husband, my golf and all the list I have got and will never get enough time for.
© European Network for Women in Leadership 2018