Meet our Talents

  • 28 Jan 2019 12:09 | Deleted user


    Is creating an enabling environment for investment compatible with broader environmental and social goals? What is the European Union doing to ensure sustainable growth for the future? To know more, read our interview with this young and ambitious woman leader. This month, we interviewed Florentine Hopmeier, Member of Cabinet of Vice President Katainen at the European Commission and participant in our Women Talent Pool programme to learn more about her career and discuss some hot topics in finance, politics, and women leadership.

    Originally from Austria, you have extensive experience studying and working abroad. Why did you decide to study in Paris and then work in Brussels?

    Having attended the French school in Vienna, I got used to studying in an international environment from a very young age. My parents are Austrian. However, they have always put a lot of emphasis on foreign languages. I am very grateful to them for this decision. I never had to learn French consciously. Instead, I learnt it in the kindergarten, in a very natural way.

    By nature, I am a curious and adventurous person. I did not have to think twice about studying abroad and the Franco-German undergraduate programme offered by Sciences Po seemed like a perfect fit.

    And once you experience living abroad… you want to see more! I have always dreamt of working for Europe in some way or another, and this is how I ended up working in Brussels for the European Commission.

    Once you experience living abroad… you want to see more!

    You have several years of experience in the fields of finance and investments, both in the private and public sectors. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues have systematically been integrated in investment decision making. What changes have you observed over the years and how would you assess the emerging role of ESG in investing?

    I have observed a positive change over the past few years. The integration of ESG issues into investment decision making is not niche anymore. Sustainable investment is growing fast.

    Sustainable investment is also a big priority for the European Union. We have proposed the Action Plan on Sustainable Finance, which would create a unified EU classification system, the first taxonomy of its kind, on what can be considered a sustainable investment. It will ensure more transparency and help investors identify sustainable investment opportunities.

    The plan includes many more aspects, such as the creation of EU labels for green financial products and integrating sustainability in investors’ risk management systems. By setting standards, the goal is to create a European market for sustainable finance. This should hopefully also serve as a model for the rest of the world.

    Before joining the Cabinet of Vice-President Katainen, you were Team Leader of one of the Commission's flagship initiatives, the Investment Plan for Europe. One of the objectives of this initiative is to improve the business environment in Europe by removing regulatory barriers. What are some of the key barriers to investment in Europe? How can we create an enabling environment for investment while ensuring high social and environmental standards?

    Good regulations are a way of ensuring that investment stays in Europe in the long term. We need to cut red tape, encourage innovation, and create a predictable and transparent regulatory environment at both the national and European levels. It is important to be able to attract strategic investment that modernises our economy for instance in RDI, digitisation, sustainable infrastructure, circular economy, social investment and start-ups. This is an essential part of the Investment Plan, which the EU launched in 2014.

    At the EU level, we need to ensure a smooth functioning of the single market and promote open, rules-based international trade. At the national level, member states have made remarkable progress in removing barriers to investment. Starting a business has become easier, many countries have improved their justice systems, reformed their labour markers, and facilitated access to finance for start-ups and small companies. However, more needs to be done at both levels. Most importantly, we need to reform our education systems as they are often not responding to the needs of the economy. Education is an investment for a better future!

    To attract strategic investment, we need to cut red tape, encourage innovation, and create a predictable and transparent regulatory environment at both the national and European levels.
    You are currently participating in the Women Talent Pool (WTP) Programme. Why is it important to enrol in a leadership development programme?  

    It is always good to try something new that can expand your horizons. This program has given me the opportunity to meet many interesting people, whom I would probably not have met in my usual work environment. I am very grateful for having met a lot of young ambitious women that all want to learn, grow, and exchange ideas. The programme makes you part of a network that helps you grow in a way that you would not be able to grow all by yourself. Last but not least, it is also a lot of fun!

    At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: Which talent would you most like to have? Why?

    Sometimes, it would be great to get a glimpse of the future. I am curious about what happens next!

    To learn more about Florentine, click here.






  • 28 Jan 2019 12:06 | Deleted user


    A great read for all technology enthusiasts, lawyers, and young mothers!

    This month, we interviewed Lucie Mongin-Archambeaud, Counsel at Osborne Clarke and a young mother of three children, who talked to us about her career, cybercrime, and gave us some tips on how to juggle between professional and personal life. Read the interview to find out more.

    You have been working at Osborne Clarke since 2016. Why did you decide to join Osborne Clarke and what is your favorite part about working at this law firm?

    Before joining Osborne Clarke, I had worked for a well-known French Law firm for about seven years. I wanted to participate in a dynamic and growing international firm with the opportunity to develop a Litigation/Compliance practice.

    In addition, I also enjoy the working culture of the law firm. We all work together as a team with one clear goal – providing the best solution for our clients. The company also provides a very intellectually stimulating environment, where you can learn every day. At every level, we often brainstorm and share our knowledge and expertise.

    You are specialized in Litigation, Compliance and Business Criminal Law. You also advise clients on cyber-crime. What legal changes have you observed over the years? Is increased regulation a solution for cybersecurity?

    The GDPR regulation has shaken the business world. It made companies more aware of the value of the data they possess and of the risk of cyber-crime.

    Frauds are increasing very quickly, and scammers are using more and more sophisticated means.

    Yet, I do not think that increased regulation will provide a solution. Instead, companies need to become more aware of this new risk, anticipate any breach, train their employees, and have in place appropriate internal processes and programs.

    Companies need to become more aware of this new risk, 
    anticipate any breach, train their employees, 
    and have in place appropriate internal processes and programs.

    What are the major trends in cyber insurance and what will the future of cyber insurance look like, according to you?

    With the tremendous increase in data breaches, businesses are looking for insurance products to protect themselves. However, the market is far from being well adapted and mature. Cyber-risk assessment of businesses is not easy to conduct for insurers. Moreover, it remains difficult for customers to know which insurance product to choose.

    Our core challenge is to make our clients aware of this risk. Prior to experiencing a cyber-attack, most companies do not realize the risk. Even the most sophisticated IT security systems can be breached! To be cyber resilient, companies must teach people how to handle information and emphasize the responsibility of each employee to protect company data.

    Even the most sophisticated IT security systems
    can be breached!

    You are currently participating in the 4th edition of our Women Talent Pool (WTP) Programme. What are the main benefits of the programme?

    The main benefit is the possibility to meet many successful senior women who occupy eminent positions in various sectors, share your doubts with them, and get advice on how to overcome your doubts.

    For example, to be fully dedicated to your career, you need to believe that is possible to balance your personal and professional life. When I see a woman, being successful in her professional life and still managing to dedicate some free time to her family and hobbies, it makes me believe that it is possible!

    When I see a woman, being successful in her professional life  
    and still managing to dedicate some free time to
    her family and 
    hobbies, it makes me believe that it is possible!

    You are a mother of three children. What would be your advice to young mothers for successfully balancing work and family life?

    Good time management and organizational skills are crucial for successfully balancing work and family life. When you are working, you need to be focused and productive. Similarly, when you are at home, you want to be as available as possible for your children and partner. If you put some thought into the organization of your day to day activities, you can be productive at work and able to disconnect from work when at home.

    At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you most value in your colleagues?

    Getting along with my colleagues represent a huge source of happiness for me. I put a lot of emphasis on team work and personally feel that I find the best solutions for my clients while brainstorming with other colleagues. Having colleagues who are willing to work this way and share their knowledge is both rewarding and motivating!

    Having colleagues who are willing to
    share their knowledge
     is both rewarding and motivating!


  • 20 Dec 2018 15:55 | Deleted user

    Digital Transformation has not only transformed the way we do business but has also shaken the very foundations of traditional international diplomacy. This month, we talked to Dalila Rahmouni, Political Advisor (Digital & Internet Governance) at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and participant in our Women Talent Pool programme (WTP) to find out what digital diplomats do. She talked to us about her work at the Ministry, digital diplomacy, and data privacy challenges. Curious to know what the future of the internet might hold? Read the interview with Dalila to find our more!

    You are currently working as Political Advisor in Digital & Internet Governance at the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What does your typical workday look like and what is your favourite part of your job?

    I love the fact that I don’t have a typical workday. My workload is different every day! My role requires me to be in contact with all main actors in the digital sector – companies, civil society, and the internet community and have a good overview of the latest developments in the field. The next step involves transforming these observations into a concrete action plan. I am also in charge of developing strategies for tackling some of the challenges that arise in translating these strategies into action. 

    What impact has the digital transformation had on diplomacy?

    The French Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a diplomatic organization and yet my job scope is very different from the usual work of diplomats. Digitalization has had a major impact on diplomacy, in terms of the ways diplomacy is undertaken and in terms of how stakeholders are involved. In other words, in the digital age, it is not enough to only interact with international organizations and national governments. In order to make our diplomatic efforts relevant, we need to interact and build relationships with very different actors in ways that are different than traditional diplomacy.

    This encourages us to rethink our understanding of international relations and adapt our strategies accordingly. For example, during the Paris Digital Week, the Paris Call for Cybersecurity was launched. This initiative not only targeted governments but also other digital actors, such as companies, NGOs, and technical Internet organizations.

    We need to find new ways of conducting diplomacy in the digital era. We need to change our approach and find new ways of interacting with the international community. The question of digital is not only a business question. It is also an international relations question! 

    We need to find new ways of
    conducting diplomacy in the digital era.
    We need to change our approach and find
    new ways of interacting
    with the international community.


    Your work also involves research and teaching. You are a lecturer at Sciences Po on Privacy Regulation & Data Protection Compliance. Moreover, you recently published an article in Revue Lamy Droit de l'Immatériel n°151 on GDPR as a soft law tool.  What will be the next major data privacy challenges, according to you?

    The main challenge for European countries is to remain sovereign in private data protection. In the coming years, individuals might lose their individual freedom and autonomy, which are the basis of the rule of law in Europe.

    The GDPR represents the first big step towards designing a collective vision of data protection and spreading it all over the world. This is going to be challenging since we don’t share the same vision all over the world about what the future of data protection should look like.

    However, at this stage, we have a good approach in place. Microsoft and other big companies already have their own private diplomatic bodies. Google and Microsoft have both announced that they would implement the GDPR all over the world before the GDPR would be legally implemented by state authorities. Many countries are now preparing data protection laws and regulations based on the GDPR model.

    Finally, the GDPR needs to be successfully implemented in all companies. It is certainly more difficult to implement it in small structures than in big ones. Big companies have many tools and types of support that smaller structures don’t possess.

    The GDPR represents the first big step
    towards designing a collective vision of data protection
    and spreading it all over the world.

     

    You are currently taking part in our Women Talent Pool Programme (WTP). What leadership skills are in your opinion crucial for successful career in the public sector and how has this program helped you develop your leadership skills?

    Leaders in the public sector need to have good teamwork skills, be able to inspire others, and know how to coordinate a group. If you are capable of working in both small and big groups, listening to all members, and taking into account everyone’s opinion, you can tackle very complex challenges.

    The WTP program has been very helpful. It allowed me to meet a lot of women whom I would not have met otherwise and expand my network and horizons. It also gave me the opportunity to share my experience and ask these women for advice. At any time in your career, it is crucial to surround yourself with people who can advise you and encourage you to grow.

    You were one of the organizers of the Internet Governance Forum during the Paris Digital Week, a series of three high-level events that took place in November in Paris. What are the most pressing digital issues for Europe and what will it take to tackle them?

    Europe is currently facing two big challenges. The first one is finding ways of protecting its vision and values in the digital world, in terms of sovereignty. How can Europe ensure the development of governing structures and tools that will allow it to be in control of its own future? Let me give you one example. European citizens have to be protected both in Europe and outside Europe. In other words, when a company is located on another continent and is dealing with the personal data of European citizens, it still needs to respect the rules of Europe.

    We also need to think of ways of making Europe more attractive for digital innovation. Europe has the potential of being a very attractive place for entrepreneurs and companies thanks to its rule of law and good regulation.

    Despite all these challenges, I believe that we can take the future into our own hands. All individuals can be agents of change! As Gandhi nicely put it, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    All individuals can be agents of change!
    As Gandhi nicely put it,
    “Be the change you want to see in the world.


    At WIL, we have a tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?

    I am very proud of the fact that I am currently taking part in an equal opportunities programme that helps students develop their skills and find suitable job opportunities. Another great achievement is the collective book I have coordinated this year with 15 experts of digital issues entitled The Digital Challenges. Thinking and Practicing the Digital Transformation.

  • 20 Dec 2018 15:04 | Deleted user


    Curios to know more about consumer data and data privacy? This month, we interviewed Julie Carrier, Sales Manager in the Specialist Team Unit (STU) at Microsoft. She talked to us about her everyday work at Microsoft, leadership, and data protection and privacy.


    You are currently working as Solutions Sales Manager at Microsoft. What does your role involve and what do you like most about it?

    As part of the Specialist Team Unit (STU), we focus, together with our partners, on helping large enterprises and public sector organizations envision and implement new transformational projects built on cloud solutions.

    My role consists in managing a team of specialists. They sell modern workplace solutions to our customers, ensuring their success in building a highly secured and mobile environment for teamwork.

    My past experience in sales helps me a lot in all business aspects of my role. What I like the most about my job is working with people. I have the chance to be part of a team that is passionate about their customers and technology. They learn fast and they are very customer oriented. My main objective is to make them confident.

    We focus on helping large enterprises and
    public sector organizations envision and implement
    new transformational projects built on cloud solutions.


    Your educational background is in business administration. How did you get into the IT sector?

    When I started studying, I decided to choose business administration to get a 360° perspective of the business world. However, I was also passionate about technology, especially about Microsoft. In fact, I remember applying for a job at Microsoft and being rejected. I then decided to apply for a second time, back in 2000, and this is when I finally got the role I wanted.

    You have been working for Microsoft for about 18 years now. How does it feel to work in one organization for so long and what made you stay? What is the best part about working for Microsoft?

    Over these past years, I had the chance to experience multiple jobs in marketing and sales, working with partners and customers in various areas such as finance, manufacturing, and even the public sector. Each time, I was 100% committed and eager to learn: for example, when I worked with the French Ministry of Defence, I enrolled in a training course at Institut des Hautes Etudes de Défense Nationale (IHEDN) to better understand the defense sector.

    You are certified Data Protection Officer (DPO). This role is relatively new. In fact, the International Association of Privacy Professionals estimated that GDPR created 75,000 new DPO vacancies globally. What skills and knowledge are required for this role?

    In times of digital transformation, it is crucial to ensure that personal data is protected and highly secured. This means that companies are responsible for protecting their customers’ data and this is why they need a DPO. This job position requires you to be able to manage a strong global process over an entity and coordinate multiple stakeholders (CEO, CSO, marketing …).

    In times of digital transformation,
    it is crucial to ensure that
    personal data is protected and highly secured.

     

    How can we achieve a good balance between extracting the maximum value from consumer data and respecting privacy? What will the future of data protection compliance hold, according to you?

    Today, in the digital age, some companies such as the GAFAs (shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world—Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon), collect billions of data and know everything about our lives. They are sometimes more powerful than individual governments and countries. To ensure privacy and confidentiality, it is important to strengthen supranational institutions and regulators, such as the European Union. Only they can remain independent from GAFA.

    To ensure privacy and confidentiality,
    it is important to strengthen supranational institutions and regulators,
    such as the European Union.
    Only they can remain independent from GAFA.


    At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: With which historical figure do you most identify with?

    I would not say I identify with her, but one of the historical figures I admire the most is Simone Veil: she always had the courage to fight for the causes she considered crucial, even if sometimes her ideas were disturbing the public opinion. She understood the importance of supra national institutions such as the European Union and dedicated her life to important causes.


    To learn more about Julie, have a look at her biography!
  • 27 Nov 2018 16:15 | Deleted user

    Agathe Delouvrier, Economic Development Consultant at BPI, is passionate about skills development. In both her professional and personal life, she has successfully used her knowledge and skills to help others grow and develop. This month, she shared with us more about her work at BPI, her views on leadership development, professional integration of young people, and critical skills for the jobs of the future. Read the interview to find out more!


    You are currently working as Economic Development consultant at BPI Group, a leading HR consulting company. Part of your role consists in supporting the development of start-ups and SMEs. Could you tell us more about your position and share with us some examples of organizations and projects you supported? 

    I work in the Economic Development department of BPI, a French HR consulting firm. Our department assists start-ups and small enterprises with their development projects. My everyday work involves identifying interesting business projects, meeting entrepreneurs, and helping them design their development plans. 

    In 2015, a new regulation was passed in France, obliging all profitable companies with more than 1000 employees that are undergoing restructuring to compensate for job destruction by paying financial compensation to a region in France and supporting entrepreneurial ventures. Our role at BPI is to design high-quality projects for our clients and make sure that they spend their money efficiently.

    Let me give you a specific example: we recently designed a training program for the managers in the non-profit sector who are involved in job market integration of people who have been out of the workforce for a long-time. My team has trained them and helped them develop a sustainable business plan!

    What is it like to work for BPI Group, a sponsor of our Women Talent Pool programme (WTP)? Can you share with us some of the best talent development programs you have noticed at BPI?

    The participation in the WTP programme was our first proactive initiative that involved a third party. I feel very grateful for being able to join this programme.

    Other than that, a group of young BPI employees recently launched a groundbreaking initiative for young leaders. They launched a shadow Executive Committee for young BPI employees (30-35 years old) that enables them to contribute to the decision-making process of the company and allows them to develop their leadership skills.

    We launched a shadow Executive Committee for
    young BPI employees (30-35 years old) that enables them
    to contribute to the decision-making process of the company
    and allows them to develop their leadership skills.

    You have launched your own initiative to support the professional orientation and youth integration, called "Mon Projet". What are the main challenges young people are experiencing in France when integrating the job market?

    France is currently experiencing deep social and economic inequalities and our existing education system reproduces these inequalities. The main challenge faced by young people is the lack of network and soft skills. All in all, it is the social capital and soft skills that get people jobs nowadays!

    We have met many young people who are given no career advice and support. This made us realize that there was a big skills gap that needed to be closed! On the one hand, there are young people who do not understand how they can contribute to the professional world. On the other, there are companies that cannot find the talent they need.

    This is why my friend and I decided to launch a project that would address this challenge by helping young people develop their soft skills and make them understand the professional world. We have designed workshops for secondary school (collège) children as well as some special programs for school dropouts and children from underprivileged backgrounds. Through our workshops, we encourage children to reflect on their own skills and personal qualities and match them with existing jobs.

    The main challenge faced by young people
    is the lack of network and soft skills.

    The world of work is changing rapidly. How can we prepare young people for the jobs that do not yet exist?

    You cannot base your future professional integration on your technical skills alone since many of them will become obsolete or are not yet known. Instead, it is crucial to develop your soft skills, mainly adaptability, critical thinking, learning capacity, and the ability to take initiative. In order to succeed in this rapidly changing professional world, young people will need to know how to adapt to these changes.

    You cannot base your future professional integration
    on your technical skills alone
    since many of them will become obsolete or are not yet known.

    You are currently participating in our WTP programme. What is your main takeaway from the programme and how do you think you can transfer the knowledge you have acquired to the young people you work with?

    The WTP programme has given me the chance to meet many inspiring people, I would never have met otherwise. I believe that I can transfer this opportunity by encouraging young people to be open-minded and never be afraid of meeting new people! 

    The WTP programme has given me the opportunity to meet
    many inspiring people
    I would have never met otherwise.
     

    At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What is your most marked characteristic and why do you think it has helped you in your career?

    My most marked characteristic is the ability to take initiative. It is crucial for leaders to understand where they can have an impact and how they can contribute in a relevant way. This involves identifying the needs of your organization and then proposing and designing some relevant tools. 

    It is crucial for leaders to understand
    where they can have an impact and
    how they can contribute in a relevant way.


    To learn more about Agathe, have a look at her biography!















  • 27 Nov 2018 16:00 | Deleted user

    How did Microsoft prepare for the GDPR? Is Artificial Intelligence threatening the legal profession? This month, we had the chance to talk to Fozia Jabbar, Head of Legal at Microsoft Denmark, who talked to us about her work at Microsoft, her views on female leadership, the future impact of technology on the legal profession, and much more. If you are curious to learn more about in the intersection of law and technology, this is a great interview to read!


    You started your career in the field of criminal law, where you worked as Prosecutor at the Ministry of Justice in Denmark. What made you switch to commercial law? 

    I worked as a prosecutor for 1.5 years and I can say with confidence that my job as a prosecutor was interesting and rewarding. However, I felt that there was something missing! I have always been drawn to the idea of having an international career with an international impact. My career in the public sector did neither offer me international opportunities nor allow me to pass the bar exam. This is why I decided to join a law firm, where I could gain professional experience in international commercial law and prepare for my bar exam. 

    Microsoft is a proud sponsor of our Women Talent Pool programme (WTP). Why did you decide to embark on this learning and networking journey and what would be your key takeaways?

    In order to be a good leader, it is important to constantly grow your skills and build a network of like-minded people. Life-long learning is crucial for leadership development and the WTP programme provides a safe place for women leaders to learn and grow.

    I like the variety of the learning opportunities available. They range from workshops, speaking opportunities, to networking sessions. The programme also encouraged me to reflect on different topics that are not part of my everyday work. To be able to discuss topics like digital transformation and artificial intelligence with participants who do not have a legal background is an intellectually enriching experience as it gives you a different perspective on the issue. On top of that, I have managed to build meaningful relationships with other participants!

    Life-long learning is crucial for leadership development

    and the WTP programme provides a safe place for

    women leaders to learn and grow.

    In what ways did the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) shake up the European Union (EU) privacy law and how did Microsoft prepare for this new era in privacy regulation?

    The GDPR is an important step forward for individual privacy rights. At Microsoft, we have been very supportive of the GDPR ever since it was first proposed in 2012. I also believe that May 25th, 2017 does not represent the end of our work, but rather the beginning of a new era.

    At Microsoft, we have always been focusing on creating products and services that help other businesses drive their success. This is at the heart of our business model! In terms of our preparation for the GDPR, we have been creating and developing tools and guidance for our customers to make them compliant. We always make sure that our customers buy products that are in compliance with existing standards and regulations. However, the actual compliance is up to the final users of our products. It is not something we can do for them.

    We always make sure that our customers buy products

    that are in compliance with

    existing standards and regulations.

    How do you imagine Artificial Intelligence (AI) changing the job of IT lawyers in the future?

    AI is already transforming the legal profession! It can have a positive impact on the legal work since it is much better at performing certain routine tasks: especially sifting through lengthy documents, searching for examples, looking for relevant passages, and doing other administrative tasks. It will not replace lawyers but rather make our work more interesting by automating some administrative tasks and allowing us to focus on more complex and intellectually challenging work. In the end, you still need a lawyer to make the final assessment.

    AI will not replace lawyers but rather make our work more interesting

    by automating some administrative tasks and

    allowing us to focus on

    more complex and intellectually challenging work.

    For example, at Microsoft, we have created a chatbot that can answer some common and simple legal questions. In many cases, the assistance provided is sufficient and gives the internal clients the answers they are looking for and allows the lawyer to focus on more interesting and complex work! 

    At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What is your motto?

    Nothing is impossible, the impossible just takes longer!

    Nothing is impossible, the impossible just takes longer!


    To read more about Fozia, have a look at her biography










  • 29 Oct 2018 14:21 | Deleted user

    How does it feel to be a woman working in a leading STEM firm? Patricia Nuñez, SMB and Channel Manager at Lenovo Iberia, shared with us her experience of working at Lenovo. She also talked to us about her ideas on how to attract more women into STEM careers and shared some of Lenovo’s best practices. To find out more, read our interview!

    What inspired you to study telecommunications engineering? How can we make this field more attractive for women? 

    When I was young, I wanted to do something unconventional and I had a strong interest in innovation and the latest technologies. The telecommunications industry offers many opportunities for disruptive innovations and that is what attracted me.

    To make this field more attractive to women, we should start by changing stereotypes about career choices, which exist from very early on. Schools can play an important role in making children understand that there are no careers reserved for women and that women can also pursue these technical studies. School children should know that there are many doors open to them. If girls want to be engineers, they can be engineers. This also means that engineering schools and universities should create a welcoming and conducive environment for girls.

    School children should know 

    that there are many doors open to them. 

    If girls want to be engineers, they can be engineers.

    Lenovo is a partner of our Woman Talent Pool programme (WTP) Lenovo and has launched several initiatives to foster gender equality, such as the Women at Lenovo EMEA digital hiring campaign in 2016. How would you assess your experience of working there as a woman? Could you share with us some of the best practices you have noticed?

    My experience has been fantastic! There are so many opportunities available! Gender equality is a hot topic at Lenovo and I am pleased to say that there is a big internal push to make a lasting change and that everyone is supportive of various gender equality initiatives we are currently involved in. For example, we regularly publish internal statistics assessing gender diversity within different teams. We also organize women in leadership breakfast debates, where key women in the organization share best practices.

    If you are capable of doing it, why would you not do it? I think this is the mentality we have here at Lenovo. My own team is quite diverse! We have approximately the same number of women and men. It is not because I am looking for women or for men specifically. Above all, I am looking for talent, for a person who has relevant skills and who is going to fit well into the team.


    If you are capable of doing it, 

    why would you not do it? 

    I think this is the mentality we have here at Lenovo.

    What are the benefits of having diverse teams in the IT sector?

    Diversity is key to success! We live in an incredibly complex environment that requires us to coordinate across business and cultural needs. It is thus very important to have people from different backgrounds, with various experiences and perspectives. If a company has several employees thinking the same way, it will never progress. You need diverse teams (in terms of gender, age, origins…) to improve your performance and be able to think out of the box! This is especially crucial when a difficult decision is to be made or when you have a new problem to solve.

    If a company has several employees thinking the same way,

     it will never progress. 

    You need diverse teams to improve your performance

     and be able to think out of the box! 

    Lenovo manufactures one of the world’s widest portfolio of connected products. What is the key to your success? Can you tell us more about your channel strategy?

    Our company does not sell products directly to end customers. Instead, we sell our products to our distribution channel.

    We are succeeding and growing fast thanks to our channel strategy. We do not compete with the channel, we complement it! 95% of our business goes through the channel. This means that when we grow, the channel grows with us. We are a company that has a very competitive channel program, and this is key for our partners.

    Finally, our departments are like small companies. When making a decision, I always ask myself the following: if the company was mine, would I do it? We are very close to our channel and this is what makes us unique!

    We are very close to our channel 

    and this is what makes us different!

    At WIL, we usually conclude our interviews with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

    Being pragmatic and results-oriented! When you work in a sales team, this is something that must become part of your DNA. If you have a goal, you need to achieve it. It is overrated because it is expected. On the one hand, you need to be results-driven if you want to perform, on the other, it is what everyone is expecting from you.

    To read more about Patricia, have a look at her biography


  • 29 Oct 2018 12:34 | Deleted user

    Christelle Cuenin, Associate Director at INSEAD, has dedicated her career to helping others grow, reach their full potential, and achieve impact. In this interview, she talked to us about her recent TED talk in Grenoble on redefining our perception of obstacles, her work at INSEAD, and shared her views on the skills of the future. Read the interview to find out more!


    Earlier this month, you participated at TEDxGEM in Grenoble. What inspired you to give a TED talk and what message did you want to send across?

    Public speaking has been a passion of mine for a long time. I joined Toastmasters 12 years ago, and I have enjoyed developing my skills through speech contests and improvisational theatre and learning to create speeches and to deliver them with impact. The popular TEDx format is appealing to me because as a speaker it forces you to think about what important message you want to share with your audience, and to do it in the most compelling way.

    I was thrilled to be selected to participate in this TEDx event at my Alma Mater Grenoble Ecole de Management. The overall theme was “Beyond Boundaries” and the purpose of my talk was to redefine our perception of obstacles. I wanted to show the audience that roadblocks we face in our lives and careers, can help us progress. To bring my message across, I drew the parallel with motorcycle-riding and added a few funny anecdotes from when I was getting my driving license. Over the last few years, I have been helping and coaching many speakers for TEDx events and conferences, so this time I experienced it from the ‘other side’! Delivering a TEDx talk was an amazing experience!

    The popular TEDx format forces you to think
    about what important message you want to share with your audience,
    and to do it in the most compelling way.

    You have been working at INSEAD since 2011. Your work has been focusing on transferring your skills and helping others achieve professional fulfilment and impact. What do you think will be the most important skills for business leaders to possess in the 4th industrial revolution?

    INSEAD is an amazing place for business leaders to develop new skills. I have had the privilege of seeing individuals transformed by their experience here when I was working in the Career Centre with MBA students and helping them advance their career. Nowadays, I interact with successful alumni who wish to create impact through philanthropy and I help them doing so through INSEAD.

    From what I have observed working here and interacting with many of our alumni who are leading global organisations, successful leaders need to master the following:

    Soft skills: in fact, during my TEDx talk I mentioned the recent results of the Skills Gap survey led and published by the Financial Times (“What top employers want from MBA graduates”). Drive and resilience are among most difficult skills to find. Hence, it seems key to develop these skills as a competitive advantage.

    Lifelong learning: eagerness to develop and continuously challenge oneself. At INSEAD, we are continuously expanding our alumni programme to ensure they have access to resources that help them stay on top of trends.

    Public speaking: perhaps the most important for me. I think every business leader needs to be ready to address an audience and make a difference. It takes work and this is something you need to dedicate time to. The ability to communicate with impact and authenticity is a game changer for one’s career.  

    Successful leaders need to master soft skills, 

    lifelong learning, and public speaking. 

    The ability to communicate with impact and authenticity 

    is a game changer for one’s career. 


    You have also been actively involved in the field of Corporate Philanthropy. Why is it important for companies to engage in philanthropic projects? How can companies align their social, environmental, and business goals?

    One of my past roles at INSEAD involved creating impactful partnerships with corporations looking to support Higher Education through philanthropy. Many companies have been involved in these programmes at our school. Our common vision is the will to educate business leaders to conduct business responsibly. We see that values and norms are changing and that business and social goals need to be more aligned. This is why we have recently launched our Force for Good campaign. One of our key initiatives was the creation of the Hoffmann Global Institute for Business and Society, an institute dedicated to conducting research, teaching how companies can align these goals, and raising awareness about these changing norms and values. I now work with individuals who wish to create impact and change the world through philanthropy in Business Education and INSEAD is a powerful catalyst for that. With more than 57,000 INSEAD alumni in 175 countries around the globe, INSEAD has a role to play in transforming the world for the better.

    With more than 57,000 INSEAD alumni
    in 175 countries around the globe,
    INSEAD has a role to play
    in transforming the world for the better.

    INSEAD, our Associate Partner, was one of the first business schools in the world to admit women to its MBA programme and has been actively championing gender equality in the past years. What are the main challenges female students are facing in business schools and how are your programmes addressing these issues?

    Diversity is one of the key values at INSEAD, and promoting Gender Diversity in and beyond our programmes has been a key area for us for a long time. This past academic year, we held many events focusing on IW50, the celebration of the 50th anniversary of female participants’ presence in the MBA programme. This initiative celebrated the past, present, and future of women at INSEAD and was led along with increased research and awareness activities on Gender Equality. We equip students with a strong support network: for example, we have a very active Women in Business club on campus and our UK Alumni Association has set up a fantastic mentoring programme. However, we also want to make it inclusive and we are offering Executive Education opportunities for everyone who wishes to drive the gender diversity agenda in their organization. We have recently opened an online INSEAD Gender Diversity Programme providing the understanding, concepts, and tools that enable participants to develop a strategic and practical plan to reach gender balance in an organization.


    You are currently participating in our Women Talent Pool (WTP) programme. Why do you think it is important to constantly improve your skills?

    Being part of the WIL’s WTP programme has been an amazing opportunity. It has helped me develop creativity, skills, and expand my network. I think the programme is relevant to continuous adapting and learning. I have come back from our conferences and interactions with a new way of looking at things: hearing perspectives from other participants in different industries has helped me think more creatively about my role. It also gave me the ability to dare and experiment more. Finally, being part of the WTP has allowed me to connect with peers and we have enjoyed sharing each other’s experiences. Creativity, skills, and connections are helping us manage our careers and eventually become better leaders.


    At WIL, we have the tradition of concluding the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following question for you: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

     

    I was fortunate to meet very inspiring people at the time when I was looking for a career change and transition to the Higher Education sector, after having spent several years in the Telecom & Tech sectors. Changing industries and taking on a very different role felt a bit like a leap of faith at the time. However, looking back, I am extremely happy to have taken that brave and bold step to find a job I am passionate about and an amazing institution to work for.

    Thank you!

    Looking back, I am extremely happy to have taken
    that brave and bold step to find a job I am passionate about
    and an amazing institution to work for.

    To read more about Christelle, have a look at her biography



  • 27 Sep 2018 15:21 | Deleted user

    How do we promote women STEM leadership amongst youth? What is the role of Artificial Intelligence in addressing environmental changes? We had the chance to discuss these topics with Montserrat Pardo, an active participant in our Women Talent Pool Programme and Government Affairs Director at Microsoft! If you are curious to know more about it, read our interview with Montserrat!

    Could you tell us what is your favourite part of your job at Microsoft?

     

    Joining Microsoft was a turning point in my life. I love my role as Government Affairs Director in Microsoft as it calls upon all my passions, skills and values. What I like the most at Microsoft is our cultural diversity. A culture where every individual can be their best self, where diversity of skin-color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation is understood and celebrated.

     

    What I like the most at Microsoft is our cultural diversity. 

    A culture where every individual can be their best self, 

    where diversity of skin-color, gender, religion, and sexual orientation is understood and celebrated.


    You have participated in a roundtable on ‘Technology Innovation and Circular Economy’ at a summit organised in 2018 by the Advanced Leadership Foundation Organization, which included keynote speeches from former US President Barack Obama, and other important personalities. On this occasion, you presented the Microsoft project « AI for Earth », which counts today with more than 100 individuals and organisations. How can artificial intelligence be a game-changer to address environmental challenges?

     

    Every industrial revolution has borrowed from our past to pay for the future. In this fourth industrial revolution, we can repay the planet for the past, deal contemporary issues and plot a more sustainable future. This is where new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can play a role.

     

    AI is indeed a game-changer and a force multiplier when it comes to building a sustainable future. So much data exists on the state of our planet. By putting it to work, we can discover new solutions, bring them to scale and drive transformative change.

     

    Microsoft understood this perfectly and  announced a brand new $50 million commitment for the next 5 years in AI for Earth -a Microsoft program aimed at empowering people and organizations to solve global environmental challenges by increasing access to AI tools and educational opportunities. To date, we have awarded more than 100 grants to individuals and organizations in more than 20 countries, who are focused on finding solutions to climate change, loss of biodiversity, agricultural cost and yield, and increased water scarcity.     

    No country can solve the challenge alone. No company can solve it alone. All of us need to take action. As the Alan Kay says: “The best way to predict the future is to create it”. At Microsoft, we envision a future where all key stakeholders, civil society, academia, business, and public administrations work together to foster the Circular Economy through Artificial Intelligence.

     

    “Artificial Intelligence is a game-changer and a force multiplier 

    when it comes to building a sustainable future.”

     

    Today, only 6,7% of women graduate in STEM degrees. Microsoft, a proud sponsor of our network and Women Talent Pool programme, has launched different campaigns such as “Make What’s Next” or “DigiGirlz” to promote women STEM leadership amongst youth and close the STEM gap.  Could you tell us more about these campaigns and your overall impressions on the results?

     

    People who are going to lead the future are sitting in classrooms today. If we do not promote girls' interest in this type of studies, it will be difficult to reduce the gender gap in this sector, where new professional profiles are increasingly demanded on digital transformation and Artificial Intelligence.

     

    For this reason, at Microsoft, we launched the campaign #MakeWhatsNext to raise awareness of the issues that take girls to drop out of or lose interest in STEM, and to pique their excitement at how they can change the world — if they remain engaged. The response to #MakeWhatsNext was incredible, with more than 14 million video views across social media channels. Girls’ passion is strengthened when they see female role models who have created innovations that are used in our everyday lives. As the motto goes, “If you see it, you can be it.”

     

    Microsoft also developed the DigiGirlz Technology Programs, which include, high-tech camps and one-day events, are organized and run by Microsoft employee volunteers and provide high school girls the opportunity to connect with Microsoft employees, and participate in hands-on computer and technology workshops.

     

    “People who are going to lead the future are sitting in classrooms today. 

    It is necessary to show girls that starting a career 

    in the field of the STEM can be really exciting and can change their future 

    and the future of society.”

     

    In Spain, 61% of the government members are women, including Nadia Calviño, Minister of Economy and Enterprise and a Friend of our Network. Do you think that the recent example of Spain could have a positive impact on gender equality policies in the country?

     

    As the media reflected, there was an immediate positive impact in the country and also at the international level, given the fact that the Spanish Government has now become a reference when it comes to gender equality. Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, is also visible and decisively connecting with a fight for women’s rights since he appointed 11 women to his 17-member Cabinet. We experienced the impact that has been echoed in the international media, stating that Spain’s new Prime Minister, recently became the first world leader to appoint women to almost two-thirds of cabinet positions, placing Spain as the country with the highest proportion of female-led ministries.

     

    We all need to continue our efforts in that direction in both public and private sectors, where more and more institutions should be an example of gender equality embracement. In that sense, Microsoft is strongly fostering gender diversity and inclusiveness as they are key for innovation, economic growth and development of our society. Just to give you a taste, our current Country Manager and the two previous ones are women, 30% of the Microsoft employees are women, while the average rate of women in the ICT sector is just 18%. In addition, 50% of the leadership team in Microsoft Spain is composed by women and, in the last year, 56% of newly hired employees were women. We will continue our work to ensure the best for the future.

     

    We, at WIL, have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following one for you: What is the quality you most like in a female leader?

     

    The quality that I value most in a female leader is the empathy to others and their needs. The ability to understand and feel what others experience is critical for leadership. Being an empathetic person makes you a better leader.

     

    In that respect, let me share the statement of our CEO Satya Nadella with you: “I learned that empathy is essential to deal with problems everywhere, whether at Microsoft or at home; in your country or globally. That is also a mindset, a culture. Empathy, which is so difficult to replicate in machines, will be invaluable in the human-Artificial Intelligence world. The ability to perceive other's thoughts and feelings, to collaborate and build relationships will be critical. If we hope to harness technology to serve human needs, we humans must lead the way by developing a deeper understanding and respect for one another's values, cultures, emotions, and drives”.

     

    “The ability to understand and feel 

    what others experience is critical for leadership. 

    Being an empathetic person makes you a better leader.”


    To learn more about Montserrat, read her biography!



  • 27 Sep 2018 11:49 | Deleted user

    Brussels based Ioana Banach, Deputy Director at the European Green Foundation, is a passionate European and a strong believer in the value of cooperation and gender equality. We had the pleasure to interview her on the role of women in European politics, the impact of networks like WIL Europe and much more!

    What enticed your move to Brussels and what does your current job specifically entail? Why did you choose to work at a European level rather than on a local level?

     

    I studied Political Science for my Bachelor (University of Bucharest and University of Warsaw) and EU Public Affairs for my Masters (University of Maastricht). I always had a keen interest in politics at the global and international level because I believe that societal issues related to topics such as as migration or climate change cannot be solved at a local and national level solely and that cooperation and open innovation at a European and global level is crucial.

     

    While studying, I was involved for three years in a student-led project that was promoted by the United Nations: the 'Making Commitments Matter' project, which analysed the extent to which UN agreements were implemented at national level. It was through this experience that I realised what a powerful actor the EU is on the global arena.   I decided to continue my academic formation with a Master in EU Public Affairs in Maastricht, and then the career path to Brussels was a very natural step to take.

     

    I am now Deputy Director at the European Green Foundation (GEF), a European political foundation funded mostly by the European Parliament. It is linked to but independent of other European Green actors such as the European Green Party and the Green Group in the European Parliament. The main tasks of GEF are to contribute to the development of a European public sphere and to foster greater involvement of citizens in European politics. It works to create a common Green vision for Europe and to communicate it to the broader public.

     

    There is less than a year to go to the EU Elections of 2019, in which EU citizens in 27 countries will vote to elect their representatives in the European Parliament and help decide who should lead the EU Commission. First-time voters usually abstain more than older voters, delegating their future to the older generation. How do you think we could counteract this issue?

     

    The European elections will be taking place during a period of profound political and economic crisis and will shape EU politics for the next five years. Interestingly, what happened after the Brexit vote of June 23rd, 2016 is that, after a couple of decades of stagnant, rather ignorant sentiments towards the EU, people actually started to care. Whether supporters, critics or skeptics, citizens started to engage in debates about the future of the EU.

    In many places, young Europeans are the most fervent in voicing their ideas about Europe. At the same time, they are also the ones who mistrust politics and institutions the most. So, while they definitely care and have an opinion, they might not believe that voting is the right avenue to voice their concerns.

     

    So our job is to reconnect with citizens and discuss together how important their vote is, what they are voting for and what the EU actually is about. I am actively involved in promoting the role of the EU institutions not only here in Brussels but also in my country of origin, Romania, where we are experiencing a worrying political turmoil.

     

    I am actively involved in promoting the role of the EU institutions 

    not only here in Brussels but also in my country of origin, Romania, 

    where we are experiencing a worrying political turmoil.

     

    Women’s equality is directly linked to Europe’s overall well-being. Only by overcoming gender inequality can we indeed lay the foundations for our continent’s future. What are the main issues for women in EU politics?

     

    In many EU countries, women are still vastly underrepresented in government. In the European Parliament, only one-third of elected MEPs are women and the female representation of women in the EU Parliament has increased by only 20% in the last 40 years. How can discuss policies affecting more than half of the population without this half being properly represented? We need to support women who might be inclined to choose a career in politics, if we want a fairer representation in parliament, both at a European level and a national level. This starts with what they hear at home, in schools, in fashion, advertising and media. It is unacceptable that in the year 2018 we still see such a backwards mentality: girls being educated to believe they can achieve less than boys; industries and fields of work which are completely women-unfriendly, huge pay-gaps between genders. Progress is being made, but in my personal view, not fast enough. We need to step-up our game.

     

    We need to support women who might be inclined 

    to choose a career in politics, if we want a fairer representation in parliament, 

    both at a European level and a national level.

     

    You are active in many organisations that support gender equality, and you are also a participant WIL’s Women Talent Pool Programme. What role do organisations like WIL play?

     

    Brussels in this sense is unique; there are roughly 50 women's movements here. Organisations such as WIL Europe which work on developing leadership skills and offers networking opportunities have long driven global and national action on women leadership. Women organisations are essential sources of knowledge on how to advance women's rights. In pushing for change and accountability, they develop leadership skills and transform political arenas. Through these networks, women can find support from their (more experienced) peers, and they can even identify mentors, which is not only useful, but sometimes absolutely necessary if they wish to attain a leadership position.  

     

    Organisations such as WIL Europe

     which works on developing leadership skills 

    and offers networking opportunities 

    have driven global and national action on women leadership.

     

    We at WIL have a tradition to conclude the interview with a question from Proust’s questionnaire. We have picked the following one for you: Which living person do you most admire?

     

    I have to say social activist and writer Gloria Steinem. She has been an inspiration for millions of women worldwide, she helped create the New York magazine in the 60s and was among the founders of the National Women’s Political Caucus and the feminist Ms magazine. But most of all, she has this contagious charisma and a rebel spirit that mobilises so many of us to play our own small part in improving the society we live in.

     

    To learn more about Ioana, read her biography!



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