“The participation in WIL’s leadership programme helped me to better understand myself and to progress in my career.“ Marie-Hélène Briens Ware is definitely the kind of emerging leader who walks the talk: one of the most active alumni of our network, she has reached a leading position as Director of Program Office for the Enterprise Line of Business, at Orange, only a few years after participating to the 1st edition of WIL’s Women Talent Pool programme (WTP).
In this interview, read about what Marie-Hélène has learned over 15 years in Telecommunication sector and what her thoughts are on the challenges this sector is facing today!
Throughout your career, you worked in various positions in R&D and sales and you are currently the Director of Programme Office for the Enterprise Line of Business. Could you please describe briefly your current position and what you like about it?
Orange is a worldwide telecom company and the entity I work for is in charge of supporting B2B activities across the Orange Group. Our enterprise customers are businesses of all sizes, people that work from home, small to medium enterprises or multinational companies. We support all the Orange countries in all activities related to B2B: sales, marketing, customer service… We do this by bringing very specific expertise, and we act like internal consultants. Thanks to our close relationship with all Orange countries, we are the ambassadors of B2B at Orange corporate level.
Within the Enterprise Line of Business, I am in charge of the Program Office, which is a team responsible for various support functions: communications to raise B2B awareness towards major stakeholders, digitalization, knowledge management, etc. The latter is an important part of our work, as we receive a lot of knowledge from Group projects in all different countries, which then needs to be shared and made accessible in a meaningful and efficient way, so that we can capitalize on all our projects.
We also provide support for the governance of B2B in the Group. My role is to make sure that we bring added value to the Group and what I really like about it, is that it is a very transversal role offering a comprehensive view on business. I also like the challenge of advising the members of the executive committee, who turn to us for advice on best B2B strategy for which clear position and recommendations are needed.
With an academic background in Telecommunications and over 15 years of experience at Orange, what do you appreciate the most about this sector and the company?
What I really like about the telecom industry is that it really affects people’s lives. We are part of a revolution that is unfolding and is far from being over; I’m thinking of how 5G is going to be yet another stage of this revolution. The way we work has changed so much: just 15 years ago, there were hardly any mobile phones, emails, video conferencing or knowledge sharing. I find this thrilling and it is also the reason why I have joined this sector in the first place.
In addition, I also appreciate the responsibility that comes with the work we do, such as the technological solutions we push for, or how we handle the personal data of our customers.
'What I really like about the telecom industry is that it really affects people’s lives. We are part of a revolution that is unfolding and is far from being over.'
From a technological point of view, what are some of the biggest challenges that the marketing teams faces today?
At Orange, we have a responsibility towards our customers to offer fast evolving products and services. The behavior of customers has changed in the way they use mobile phones, watch TV or work collaboratively, which means that marketing needs to embrace new technologies and make sense of them for our customers. Cyberdefense is a good case in point: the way and number of times enterprises were hacked a few years ago is very different from how they are hacked today. Therefore, we always need to be up-to-date with the latest solutions, which I think is the biggest challenge for marketing teams!
'Marketing needs to embrace new technologies and make sense of them for our customers.'
Last week, One Planet Summit took place on the anniversary of the adoption of the Paris Agreement. How important are climate/green initiatives for company’s marketing strategies and market success?
Just a few years ago, green solutions were not part of the mindset, but I think this is changing really fast and climate initiatives in marketing strategies are growing in importance.
'It has become mandatory to demonstrate to big customers in particular, that Orange cares about the environment and that it complies with certain standards.'
It has indeed become mandatory to demonstrate customers, big ones in particular, that Orange cares about the environment and that it complies with certain standards. It is thus important for us as a Group to take part in making our products and behavior as green as possible.
In 2012, you have participated in the 1st edition of WIL’s WTP Programme and only a few years later, you have reached a leading position. Could you share with us how it has benefited you and what advice would you give to other participants?
When I joined the WTP programme, I was curious but, as an independent thinker, I never thought being a woman could ever hinder my career. However, by discussing and reflecting with other participants, I have come to realize that there was a behavior that was holding me back in my career: the reluctance to put myself forward, and to have to promote myself in certain situations. This was a really good eye-opener and it helped me to better understand myself and also to progress in my career.
'The participation in the WTP programme was a really good eye-opener and it helped me to understand myself and also to progress in my career. '
The WTP programme also gives an opportunity to network with other professional senior-level women and shows how important and beneficial it is to genuinely share experiences and discuss all topics that we do not talk about at our workplace. I strongly encourage new participants to take advantage of this opportunity. It is a safe space to share and learn from others and oneself.
You have attended our recent EU Breakfast Debate with EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. What were your key takeaways from the event? Are you planning on reading the book suggested by the Commissioner - Mary Beard: Women & Power?
I have already bought the book! I am pleased to have been able to listen to the EU Commissioner Vestager at WIL’s recent event. She is an impressive leader who has achieved great results in her fight against illegal State aid.
I believe that she embodies exactly the kind of leadership Europe needs today. EU Commissioners should exercise their power to make sense of Europe as a community of countries that stand firm against policies and political choices that are in not in our common interest, such as the fight against tax loopholes. The work the Commissioner Vestager does is a very good example of why the European Union was created for in the first place : to benefit Europeans.