On the morning of November 3rd, Global Contact and WIL Europe collaborated to organize an intimate and high-level roundtable to discuss the results of the study Gender Scan, led by Global Contact. The study provides an overview of the place of women in Sciences, Technology and Innovation (STI) and suggests best practices to promote diversity and reduce inequalities between men and women. The presentation was moderated by Claudine Schmuck, WIL Board member and founder of Global Contact, an advisory group focused on result oriented developments using NTIC, online services, and benchmarking reports.
The panel of speakers included distinguished names such as:
All the speakers reacted to the Gender Scan study’s key figures and shared best practices to promote and manage gender diversity in organisations.
Pierre Gattaz, president of MEDEF, an organization created by the main French Employers' Union, asserted that gender diversity is “the major challenge in modern management”. Diversity is a driver of creativity and innovation in the highly competitive corporate world. As Stéphane Pallez underlined, business models have been facing major challenges in the recent decades and “we will need all talents, both men and women, to address digital disruption”. Yet, less than 20% of women are seating on boards and executive committees. This figure calls for change towards gender parity in the corporate world: the GenderScan study identified three pillars companies must work on to create an women-friendly work environment: First, organizations should be more flexible to fit with women’s multiple responsibilities. Second, career management tools dedicated to women should be created and finally, companies should pay more attention to the life-work balance.
Sarenza, represented by Stéphane Treppoz embodied this commitment for change by offering special programs to support the career advancement of women, such as women’s mentoring, coaching, women-specific trainings, and the early development of women’s talents.
For the French Minister Laurence Rossignol, both the corporate world and the public administration should take a step further than merely recognizing the value women provide in corporate governance. It requires “more than just exemplarity and good will”. Therefore, she announced that " from January 1st, 2017, the French law will require a quota of at least 40% of women in CA listed companies”.
Closing the session, Maria Pernas, WIL Board Member and Senior Vice-President and Group Deputy General Counsel, ATOS reminded to the audience that, although progresses have been made, women remain underrepresented at every level of the corporate pipeline due to lack of sustained and continuous effort from the organisations. To address this crucial issue, she advised private and public sectors to work together to close the gender gap and realize the benefits of gender equality.
On the morning of June 28th, 2016, members of WIL, Commission representatives, Members of the European Parliament and friends gathered at the European Parliament for a WIL Breakfast Debate, where was discussed the pertinent topic of the future of Public Services in the European Union.
Opening the discussion on the opportunities and challenges faced by the administrations to deliver an efficient and user-friendly Service at a time of digital communication, Thaima Samman introduced our experts: Elisabeth Werner, Head of Cabinet of Vice President for Budget and Human Resources of the European Commission Kristalina Georgieva; Dr. Milena Harito, Albanian Minister of Innovation and Public Administration; Nathalie Loiseau, Director of the French famous school ENA and Denis Basque, Economist, Partner at Tera Consultants.
Taking the floor, the economist Denis Basque focused on the complexity of the definition: In the European Union, Public Services are described as services of general interest and services of economic general interest. Although the distinction between the two is diluted, services of economic general interests are much more regulated within the framework of the European single market because of its economic nature. Yet, subsidized by the State, those services are delivered at a lower price than those delivered by the private sector, resulting in a distortion of competition. The 21st century is highly competitive, which makes it crucial for the European Institutions to deliver public services of economic general interest that will on one hand maximize the general interest and on the other respect the rules of competition of the single market.
The European Union competition rules were enforced to defend the EU citizen’s best interests. This objective is at the heart of the European Commission’s mission, as highlighted by Elisabeth Werner: to restore trust between citizens and the European public administration, public services delivery, in the 21st century, must be open, transparent, cost efficient and reliable. To do so, ICTs need to be placed at the center of the process, in order to restructure the system, procedures, and habits to enable citizens, companies and organizations to access public services more easily, more quickly and at lower cost. These changes will be executed by high-level professional civil servants, who will better represent the population and implement the reforms.
Building upon Ms. Werner’s point on citizen-centered public services, Nathalie Loiseau called for a bottom-up approach: Citizens are not customers, they have legitimate expectations and requirements that need to be heard and addressed by the public decision makers. To address these challenges, the public administration must re-invent itself from the inside, starting from learning from their previous mistakes and importing best practices from other countries. In Nathalie Loiseau’s words, “Complexity requires diversity”: To implement public policies that can really address the variety of their citizens’ needs, the public administration must fight against unconscious recruitment biases which, too often, prevent gender, social, ethnical diversity at top level positions.
Finally, Dr. Milena Harito gave the audience an interesting insight on the implementation of public administration reforms in Albania, a country that is not yet in The European Union. As the current Albanian Minister of Innovation and Public Administration, and former Head of Department at Orange France, Dr. Harito is reforming the Albanian public services by using the model of “customer care principles” applied in digital companies such as Orange. Thus, she created an agency entirely dedicated to deliver public services more efficiently, based on clear systems and procedures. The goal is to have non-corrupted, accountable and transparent public services in the country.
To sum up, the common thread to all these lively perspectives and valuable insights is: The citizens’ interest. In the 21st century, in a highly connected, digitalized, and complex world, the citizens are expecting much more from their administration, which should reform itself to better reflect the diversity of its population and needs. Gender diversity in the public administration must be achieved to implement suitable, efficient and effective public reforms.
On the afternoon of June 27th, WIL members and Emerging Leaders gathered in Brussels for the second in-person meeting of the Women Talent Pool 3rd edition, which was held at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center.
Prior to beginning the session, the audience received a copy of Dr. Carol Dweck bestseller, “Mindset: changing the way you think to fulfill your potential”. The book was introduced by Elena Bonfiglioli, WIL Board Member and Senior Director Health Industry EMEA at Microsoft, who drawn attention on the power of the mindset to succeed: the attitude you adopt profoundly affects the way you lead your life. Elena encouraged the talents to train their minds in order to adopt a growth approach instead of a fixed one to fulfill their potential in their professional and personal life.
After these words of wisdom, Elena Bonfiglioli opened the floor to the Talents, who were invited to give their feedback on the first months of the WTP program. A vast majority is appreciating that the program is giving them the opportunity to share experiences, hopes and doubts with their peers and senior women managers from various backgrounds and sectors. Additionally, they particularly enjoyed the London speed dating session with senior role models, which helped them realize that these outstanding women experimented the same issues and obstacles they are facing themselves in their career. Generally speaking, emerging Leaders feel more empowered, encouraged to think “out the box” and to dare more taking some risks.
Afterwards, the Talents were invited to a demo tour of the Executive Briefing Center to discover the latest technologies produced by Microsoft. It was a cheerful moment of discovery and amusement as they had a unique opportunity to test leading edge technologies.
The second part of the session was dedicated to Sigrid Marz eye opening presentation: “Ready for the future: what are the competencies that you will want to keep learning to stay relevant in times of fast organizational and societal changes.” As Senior Client Partner at Korn Ferry, Sigrid shared with the talents the key competencies needed to help them develop their leadership style. Because of the various barriers women are facing, externally and internally, they tend to get stuck at lower management positions. Sigrid suggested the emerging leaders to act more, dare “taking the ball from somebody else”, identify and proactively remove their headwinds. She highlighted the fact that leadership is a journey, during which you must develop your entire person, meaning who you are (i.e. competencies and experiences) and what you do. Even though competencies matter in this journey towards leadership, they are not sufficient: to reach the next stage in management, emerging leaders should also work on their motivation (drivers), leadership traits, be aware of their strengths and areas of improvement, learn from their past experiences, develop their learning agility (curiosity to explore new paths of leadership) and capacity. In a few words, you have to step out of your comfort zone and push your potential to its maximum.
Following Sigrid’s vivid presentation, Roberta Cocco, National Plans Development Director at Microsoft Western Europe took the stage to talk about #Makewhatsnext, an inspiring project initiated by Microsoft to close gender gap in the fields of STEM. The European #MakeWhatsNext campaign runs 55 events and organize trainings in 28 countries, to inspire and provide the tools for girls to dispel the stereotypes that surround STEM and take opportunities in the ICT industry. To do so, #MakeWhatsNext has built partnerships with public and private actors, including the United Nation Women, which was represented during the session by Caroline Petit, Deputy Director at UNRIC, United Nations communications office for Europe. On May 26th and 27th Microsoft invited girls from across Europe to attend the flagship event in Venice, Italy, which brought together a set of international speakers, cutting edge researchers and technology start-up, to discuss how girls can innovate and achieve more in the STEM fields.
The WTP afternoon session closed with remarks from senior professionals Elena Bonfiglioli, Emanuela Palazzani and Roberta Cocco, who stressed out the importance of role models and mentors in professional careers. They advised the Talents to find themselves different role models from various backgrounds, in order to broaden their horizons as much as possible.
The Emerging Leaders were then invited to enjoy a Cocktail to close the WTP Brussels session on a pleasant note. It provided opportunities to discuss furthermore with the role models and network with their peers.
In the context of Salesforce Worldwide Tour, hosted in Paris on June 23rd, The European network for women in leadership (WIL) was happy to partner with “Women network” of SalesForce to organize a 40 minutes’ roundtable focused on the theme “Femmes des années 2020: les femmes dans le business, on aurait tort de s’en passer!” (“Women in the 2020’s: we need more women in business!”).
Stephanie Finck, Senior Director, EMEA Government Affairs at SalesForce, introduced the session with few words of welcome for the audience and the panel speakers. She draws audience’s attention on SalesForce commitment for gender equality, which is based on three principles: equal pay, equal advancement (increase access to advancement opportunities for all) and equal opportunity (build a more diverse pipeline and recruit a more diverse workforce). Stephanie then left the floor to the moderator of the debate, Thaima Samman, President of The European network for women in leadership (WIL), who introduced the distinctive panel speakers: Laurent Depond, VP Diversity and Inclusion at Orange, Dunya Bouhacene, CEO Women Equity Partner, Véronique di Benedetto, Managing Director France at Econocom and President of the Program ‘Femmes et Numerique’ from Syntec Numerique, and Marion Meresse, Principal Sales Engineer and representative of Women Network at SalesForce.
As speakers all assessed, women may have made great strides in the workplace, but inequality persists, and is even more important when they reached leadership positions. They are particularly underrepresented in the digital sector, and Veronique Di Benedetto pointed out that they are only 27% of women in the IT sector. The reason lays in gender stereotyping: Tech has a reputation for being a male-dominated space and girls often decide against ICT as a post-secondary academic track. For Veronique, it is a loss for women, but also for the ICT industry, which lose a huge talent pool.
Dunya brought to the discussion few figures and data from a study conducted by Women Equity for Growth which prove Veronique’s point. In 2015, Women Equity for Growth awarded the top 50 most successful women-led SMES, selected among a panel of 32 500 SMES which generate an annual sale of 4 to 100 million euros. They found out that SMES owned by women are globally more performant than their male counterparts, and succeed better in establishing an international presence (56% of the SME awarded by Women Equity were developed internationally). The 50 awarded SME generate a sales revenue of 1,3 billion € overall, with an average turnover of 26,5 million € (as compared to 15 million € for the rest of the panel). In 2014, their annual growth rate was higher than the average growth rate of the panel, especially in the industrial sector.
Yet, although women are driver of performance for the companies they run, they are still excluded from the top level positions in business. According to Laurent Depond, the business rules have been elaborated by men for men. Women will find their way in this male dominated sector only if men let them in and, more importantly, if they get convinced that they are critical to increase business performance and bring economic growth. Men must be convinced that rules must be changed, not only because it is fair, but also because it will benefit men as much as it will benefit men.
To take over those changes, a strong commitment of the company is required. Orange is well known for its initiatives for gender equality, diversity and inclusion, but SalesForce has also follow the same path in the recent years, as pointed out by Marion Meresse. “Women network” of SalesForce took decisive actions to inspire girls to dispel the stereotypes that surround STEM and take opportunities in the ICT industry. Marion underscored that there is no need to be an engineer to succeed in the fields of STEM.
Women Think Next is a worldwide networking event & community for professional women organized and initiated by Microsoft. Last Wednesday, May 17, 2016, this event was hosted by WIL member Nathalie Wright, General Manager Enterprise & Partner Group for Microsoft France for the first time in France.
From 18:00 to 21:00, the event provided the participants with a full evening of workshops and roundtables focused on the themes of trust and confidence, as a driver of performance, well-being and economic growth.
Nathalie Wright kicked off the evening with few words of welcoming remarks and introduced the topic,and first panel dicussion. She then left the stage to Thaima Samman, President of the European Network for Women in Leadership, who moderated the first roundtable on the theme of: « La confiance au cœur de l’économie collaborative » (‘Trust: a key element in collaborative economy’). To discuss about the topic, were invited great representatives of big companies such as Mathilde Bluteau, Chief Financial Officer at Microsoft France and Cécile Beliot, Managing Director Danone Waters France and Benelux, alongside speakers from dynamic star-ups such as Sarah Roy, Fredérique Castagnac, Chief Marketing Officer at Azendoo, Elsa Duperray, Head of Communication & Marketing at Wingit, Marie Bleu, Business Developer at TokyWoky.They all agreed to say that trust, proactively built together with customers, is a long-lasting competitive advantage for both traditional business models and new market players. Maintaining a high level of human connectedness between business and customers increase the level of trust in technology-based businesses. Indeed, computer codes and sophisticated technology are not easily understandable by customers and often results in distrust. Participants also highlighted trust as a key element of performance in companies. Indeed, as trust-based company has a culture that bound team members together and increase efficiency and performance.
Later in the evening, Murielle Le Goff-Riveron, Customer Success Manager at Microsoft, took the stage as the moderator of the second roundtable focused on the subject of confidence, as a driver of performance and well-being at work (« La confiance en entreprise, vecteur de bien être comme d’efficacité »). Great speakers such as Caroline Bloch, Human Resources Director at Microsoft France and Jeremy Lamri, CEO of Monkey tie, gave their insights on the subject, followed by Sophie Vernay and Arielle Belicha Hardy, who presented to the audience key figures and main outcomes of a study they led on Confidence and Growth. Speakers highlighted the existing link between self-esteem, wellbeing in the workplace and performance. Yet, self-esteem and well-being come from a proactive management strategy, built upon openness, flexibility and autonomy. For Jeremy Lamri, self-confidence is built over time as a result of a ‘test and learn’ process: ‘knowing that you will fail, but you will recover and move forward’.
From 20:00 to 21:00 a networking cocktail concluded the evening, and gave further opportunities to the participants to exchange, share their experiences and extend their network.
On Monday 14th, WIL Europe hosted a dinner-debate, in partnership with Lenovo and WIL Member Catherine Ladousse, Executive Director of Communication EMEA at Lenovo, in London.
Focusing on Competencies for Success in a Connected World, Thaima Samman, Founding Partner of SAMMAN Law and Corporate Affairs & WIL President introduced the panel speakers: Irene Acedo-Rico, EMEA Executive Director of Sales at Lenovo, Katherine Corich, President and CEO at Sysdoc, Frederic Halley, Operating Manager at Next World Capital, Corinne Poupet-Louvès, Director of Group HR Jobline at Orange, Bertrand Salord, Senior Director Marketing EMEA and Russia at App Annie, and David Shufflebotham, HR Director UK at Osborne Clarke.
The participants to the dinner discussed the challenges addressed by both companies and individuals in a shifting digital and globalized world. Digital disruption is affecting traditional business models in an unpreceded manner for the last decades, provoking significant change at all the organizations’ levels, including extended supply channels. Facing the threat of being superseded, large companies such as Orange or Lenovo are coping by pursuing a continuous reconfiguration process with rapid resource reallocation and organizational adaptation.
As technology cycles become shorter and shorter, the pace, size and complexity of change keeps intensifying, challenging even digital disruptors such as startups that need to strengthen their newly acquired position on the market. With a very aggressive target of growth, the major challenge of the starup App Annie is to run digital innovation projects at a very fast pace to stay on top of the market. A business line shared by Next World Capital, a Silicon Valley VC fund operating with American and European star-ups, for which fast scale-up and flexibility are the key elements. According to Fredric Halley “in an environment where pressure is really high and job are very fast paced, there is little tolerance for failure”.
Alongside this business shift lies an evolution in people management: digital transformation not only influences business models, but also jobs. Traditional work is evolving through technology to become digitized, and requires new skills. Employees who have these skills are the foundation of successful organizations. Nowadays, employers must adapt their strategy, develop their talents’ abilities in order to keep them longer. Indeed, in the new business model shift, people are the most important piece. For Katherine Corich, President and CEO of Sysdoc, digital disruption is actually more compatible with the human factor, which is the “most important part of the equation” in a strategy for growth, performance and productivity. The evolution of the HR system is a matter tackled by Orange who published a White Paper Document analyzing HR functions over the last decade and prospective of evolution for 2020-2025.
Speaking about the digital shift and human resources also implies talking about the millennial generation, also known as the generation Y, who entered the workforce massively in the last decade. As digital natives, they are a valuable target for companies who struggle to retain them. Millennials embrace a strong entrepreneurial mindset and they are often on the lookout for opportunities that can continue to move them up the ladder, even if that means up and out of their current position.
Indeed, the major challenge faced by HR executives in big companies such as Orange, Osborne Clarke or Lenovo is first, building a conducive work environment to foster skills and competencies within talents, and then having them grow within their company. To address this challenge, the participants of the discussion generally agreed on an individual-centered management strategy: our society and workplaces are nowadays shifting toward individualization, therefore collective trainings are no longer in accordance with people’s expectations. Along with Orange, who considers its employees as customers with needs, Osborne Clarke also puts a high emphasis on individuals: to drive performance, it is crucial that individuals achieve professional and personal development. The role of the company is to help them achieve selfawareness, with a wide range of tools and coaching sessions which will allow them to identify and prioritize their goals and strengths.
To sum-up the discussion on New competencies for success in a connected world, the participants agreed to say that companies are generally looking for a set of core competencies in their talents: among those, Lenovo emphasized for instance mobility, in particular the ability to move internationally in an even more globalized world. For network-based companies such as Next World Capital, networking is a key element to connect with a maximum of people and to extend opportunities. Nevertheless, the panelists acknowledged that there is not one single path to success: It is very specific to each individual. For David, “matching the individual expectations with the company’s needs” is vital for both employees and corporations to grow together.
In this shifting world, women must also find their place. As an audience member emphasized, it is not only a matter of getting the job done, it is also a matter of building your own sphere of influence, to show your work to your supervisors, and to position yourself as a leader within the company.
On March 8th, WIL Europe with the support of Women in Equity organized a luncheon at the French Ministry for the Economy and Finance in Paris, with Emmanuel Macron, French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs. This luncheon focused on Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Talents Management. It gathered 16 top-notch French women entrepreneurs, picked among the 50 women Leaders awarded by Women Equity Growth. WIL Board Members, Viviane Chaine-Ribeiro and Béatrice Delmas-Linel were amongst them.
After Mr. Macron’s brief introduction underlying the importance of SMEs for the dynamism of the French economy, the guests explained their growth strategies in a market traditionally dominated by multinationals. For Martine Bocquillon President of Point Service mobile, first French company dedicated to the immediate repair of mobile phones: "Having the spirit of entrepreneurship, means first and foremost being a pioneer in your area". The participants to the luncheon described their growth strategy and how they are making a difference in their market share.
They all agree upon the fact that they are heavily investing in innovation which is key to their success. According to Laurence Pottier-Caudron, President and founder of Valoris development: “Relying on innovation, particularly in the digital sector, helped us become one of the top key players on the market”.
Together with innovation lies the need to constantly adapt in a very shifting world. Therefore, SMEs are innovating not only in terms of products and services but also internally by adjusting their organizational structure and methods towards digitalization and multiculturalism.
This event was the perfect opportunity for SMEs’ leaders to share best practices and acumens with their fellow women entrepreneurs, and to provide Emmanuel Macron, French Minister of Economy, Industry and Digital Affairs with a high-level insight on the entrepreneurial sector.
For more information (in French) on this event, please follow this link.
On December 8th, we held our last Brussels based session of 2015 at the European Parliament hosted by MEP and WIL Board Member Pervenche Berès. Our WIL breakfast session gathered 40 plus guests to discuss and exchange on an interesting theme that continues to evolve and impact all of our lives, regardless of sector, ‘The New World of Work & Women in the Workforce’. We were joined by high-level speakers Manuela Geleng, Acting Director, Social Policy at DG Employment and Social Affairs at the European Commission, Veronique Karcenty, Head of Recruitment, Mobility and Diversity at Orange, Sarah de Carvalho, CEO of Happy Child International Foundation and Elena Bonfiglioli, Senior Director Health Industries at Microsoft EMEA, who all shared their perspectives, best practices and insights. The morning was full of interesting insights on our theme, as well as questions and comments on where to go from here, and how.
WIL Europe was happy to have Manuela Geleng at our breakfast session, representing the European Commission, in the capacity to both benefit from the discussion we were having, as she is working on the topic, but also to share with our guests the work-life balance initiative the European Commission is undertaking. This initiative aims at modernizing the current EU legal and policy framework so as to enforce a better work-life balance for women and men, and improve women’s participation in the labour market as a whole. It will examine the legislative framework in an effort to determine the most effective tools to support work-life balance for all, such as leave arrangements, promoting affordable & quality care services, flexible work arrangements, and affordable tax and benefit systems to name a few. Ms. Geleng shared some insights on the public consultation currently underway, and urged all those present to partake in the public consultation on the work-life balance initiative which is open to the public until February 7th, 2016. We would also like to suggest to all WIL members interested in submitting their opinions on this ever evolving matter please to please find details on how to make your voices heard by clicking here.
Facilitated by Thaima Samman, Partner, SAMMAN Law and Corporate Affairs, the WIL session highlighted many cross-cutting aspects related to supporting women in the labour force which includes first and foremost the role of culture. Specifically, the need to have leadership within, and leaders of, organisations support organisational culture that is diversity positive and inclusive. Whether the organisation is private, public, or non-profit, support of diversity (of all kinds) on the part of the leadership is integral to the ideal type of culture fostered in a company. A culture that demonstrates this support and is dedicated to empowering and supporting employees in their needs, will enhance the ability for women to enter into and excel in the workforce. Orange provides a best practice on this, as Veronique Karcenty mentioned how their CEO supports, without question, the inclusion and advancement of women at the company, which has allowed for a new talent evaluation systems to emerge with higher frequency that better helps all employees to determine their career trajectory, but also helps managers to identify who may need support in certain areas in order to advance.
Furthermore, we discussed how the role of technology and the ‘new world of work’ plays an immense role in the transformation of careers and workplaces for all people in the workforce, and women in particular. Generally, we are moving from a less ‘traditionally structured’ work place to a more flexible one enabled by technology and our ability to be more connected regardless of physical location. This development has specifically had a positive impact on women’s careers, as women thrive in a flexible work environment and work cultures that allow talent to be expressed and interpreted less rigidly and on a more personal basis. As Elena Bonfiglioli framed during the discussion, we are shifting from the ‘cube’ to the ‘cloud’, from your own cubicle to a world that is connected completely which allows people to better influence and drive their careers in a way that best suits them- less and less are we limited to one ‘traditional’ career path ideal.
We also heard from the non-profit/charitable sector, a sector that is dominated by women (twice as many women work in the charity sector than men) but still faces persistent issues in regards to the number of women occupying leadership roles in the sector, equitable pay and so on. Sarah de Carvalho, who represented women leaders from this sector discussed the need to potentially enforce an audit on the sector in an effort to ensure that the disparities between men and women working in charitable organisations is addressed, thus better enabling women to form a prosperous and successful career path.
We look forward to re-igniting our Brussels based session in 2016, and to engaging as many of you as possible in this open environment of insight sharing and exchanges on pertinent business and social topics.
On December 2nd, WIL Europe partnered with Céline Brémaud, Vice President Small, Mid-Market Solutions & Partners, Microsoft EMEA and WIL member to organize its first Microsoft-WIL dinner-debate in Barcelona.
Focusing on Enabling Technology for Disruptive Business, Thaima Samman, Partner, SAMMAN Law and Corporate Affairs & WIL President introduced the panel speakers: Ivanka Visnjic, Assistant Professor of Innovation, ESADE Business School; DR. Joanna Drake, Principle Advisor, Task Force Collaborative Economy, New Business Models and SMEs, DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, European Commission; Pierre-Olivier Chotard, Marketing Director for Western Europe, Zuora; Jaime Rodriguez, General Manager for Spain, BlaBlaCar; Sofia Gkiousou, Public Policy Manager, Airbnb and Carles Lloret, General Manager for Spain and Southern Europe, Uber.
The discussion started with Ivanka Visnjic who shared the academic point of view by first explaining that top companies have fundamentally shifted their business model. In 2007, companies structured as value chains which were taking inputs and creating services were very prosperous. Today companies such as Amazon which connects buyers with sellers, or Apple with its App Store which connects app developers with customers are the school examples of this model shift. They don’t necessary have a lot of employees and they no longer serve “passive consumers” but “proactive customers”. Therefore, companies such as UBER or BlaBlaCar are the perfect examples of “these pro-sumers”. Ivanka added that “20th Century Champions like GE” adapted themselves to this shift by adopting new strategies. They either moved away from disruption towards more customer-oriented solutions and services or they realized that they can’t beat their competitors and decided to join forces and partnered with them. In a nutshell, technology is changing the world and it is non reversible. The most important players and their business models are totally new to the ecosystem and the old ones have to adapt and find a role that fits them in this new economy.
Following-up on the academic perspective, Dr. Joanna Drake shared the Commission’s position that has been announced in October 2015 when the Single Market Economy was established. It is meant to address one of “EU Commission’s President Juncker’s priorities” who set as one of his 10 priorities “the need for a deeper, fairer and more transparent single market”. In other words, it is now time “to focus on the implementation.” However, Ms. Drake explained that Collaborative Economy is a real challenge in terms of rules and respect of regulations. For the EU Commission, collaborative economy presents new economic opportunities for the European Union that will create new jobs and benefits for the consumers. But, they are worried about the values, principles, and data that need to be protected. Moreover, the Commission is concerned by the fragmented approach towards principles. Indeed, Dr. Drake explained that “we tend to see more city level procedures rather than state ones.” Thus, she would like to see a more balanced evolution of this economy. She concluded by saying that collaborative economy offers immense opportunities and potential for us to achieve a more inclusive community. “Manufacturing needs to be brought back to Europe and it is what collaborative economy is doing”; it creates new employment and sources of revenue and offers new opportunities for Europe “to get a reinvigoration of its entrepreneurial spirit.”
Transitioning to a more business-like aspect of the question of disruptive business, Pierre-Olivier Chotard
strengthen the idea that “the past ten years brought a big shift in the industry and in customers’ behaviors as we moved from an “ownership” model to a “subscription” one.” Today, we are consuming services and goods without owning them. “10 years ago, in the music industry, mp3 became very popular, people wanted to copy music without buying CDs. Now, the generation Z, millennials and Zuora’s generation are all subscribers. They don’t want to own the music but only to consume it that is why they are using online
platforms to do so.” Therefore, Zuora created a global platform that industrialize “the subscription model” and enables a smart usage. Moreover, he added that big companies with huge market caps tend to address the market differently and shift their business model towards a service one in order to avoid being “uberized” by a small company which wants to get in disruptive economy to have the same cap. Accordingly, they all want to create a subscription system that will give them a regular fee from “loyal” customers who will be “locked in” the system and won’t try to get these services from competitors. In other words, “companies are collaborating with their customers” because they know that “it only takes a year for a disruptive business to geton the market and make it happen thanks to a platform that already exist.”
Moving towards the businesses that are taking the market, Sofia Gkiousou, explained that Airbnb is using technology to help customers around the world live like locals where they travel. 60 million guests have already used them in over 35,000 cities in 191 countries since it was created in 2008. Sofia enlightened that “the key notion in a global digital economy is trust.” Therefore platforms like Airbnb’s use technology to develop and build that trust, “whether it is between a professional and an individual or whether it is between individuals.” Moreover, they are shaping their online reputation through this platform by creating specific solutions for each city individually and contributing to the enrichment of areas where travelers didn’t use to go/stay before.
BlaBlaCar is another company that takes its roots in the evolution of technology. Jaime Rodriguezexplicated that his enterprise enables people to travel at a lower cost by sharing vehicles and costs thanks to a common platform where they “build a community of trust which is at the core of this disruptive business.” In 10 years BlaBlaCar reached 20 countries and 20 million clients. They are one of the “purest model of collaborative economy” because their users made a “peer to peer transportation network where they all collaborate to share costs.” By doing so, BlaBlaCar’s users have a direct impact on their society by “better using their resources”, as well as building “a more affordable and sustainable way of traveling. “The past 2 years, the activity of our customers has saved 1 million tons of CO2 or the equivalent of 400,000 round trips between NYC and Paris.” BlaBlaCar is also a service model company that uses “a peer-to-peer platform to connect places that didn’t have any connections, in a very efficient way without subsidizing to the regular transportation system.”
Finally, Carles Lloret described Uber as “a customer’s focus corporation that improves a service that already exist through technology by allowing passengers to request and pay for it through an app.” They are already in 350 cities worldwide and 60 countries. Carles added that “owning a car in a digital area doesn’t necessary make sense anymore when the world of access is becoming more and more predominant. Uber is a service that is cheap, reliable and aligned with new technology. “In a city like Barcelona, a taxi is only used 39% of the time. So, the price could be significantly lower if the service was better utilized.” There are more and more companies that started from scratch such as Google or Tesla which are now playing in the same field. “It is hard and challenging not to know who you are competing with. But, we only have two options: either we try to stop the change or we work with it, try to understand it, and invest today in what will happen tomorrow and reinvent ourselves; if not someone will come and reinvent us from the outside.”
We look forward to organizing more dinner-debates in 2016, and to engaging as many of you as possible in this open environment of insight sharing and exchanges on pertinent business and social topics.
Members of WIL, Commission representatives, Members of the European Parliament, Private Sector representatives, and WIL friends gathered at the European Parliament on July 1st, 2015 for a WIL Luncheon, where we discussed the pertinent and timely topic of Europe’s Digital Economy.
Focusing on the question of digital agenda, Thaima Samman, WIL President, introduced the panel speakers, Céline Brémaud, Vice President Small, Mid-Market Solutions & Partners, Microsoft EMEA, Pilar del Castillo Vera, Member of the European Parliament, Committee on Industry, Research and Energy and Chairman of the European Internet Foundation (EIF), Megan Richards, Principal Adviser, Communications Networks, Content and Technology Directorate-General, European Commission, Pauline Rouch, Political Advisor to Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, Daniëlle Vanwesenbeeck, Founder and General Manager, MasterMail, and our host Pervenche Berès, Member Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs of the European Parliament.
Before delving into the panel, MEP Pervenche Berès took the floor to welcome our guests and set the tone of the discussion by provoking the audience’s minds asking “the world is evolving but who is actually building the digital world?” Unfortunately, not the women, as only very few of them are contributing to this field, so far. Therefore, “we should pay more attention to their good ideas”. Touching upon the dynamics of the Commission, Ms. Berès shared strong feelings on three main topics. The first one being “jobs, jobs, jobs” she is convinced that jobs won’t come just with the digital transition, but with more public and private stakeholders working together to create decent jobs. She added that job creation is a “priority”. The second important topic is the content environment which for Ms. Berès represents a big challenge for the EU. She insisted on the fact that Europe “let the telecommunication service go” but it needs to win the battle with content if not it would be a lost opportunity. Finally, MEP Berès mentioned the “taxation issue” which is a real challenge not only in the digital market but in the marketplace in general. For her, it is impossible to increase well distributed added value without a better form of taxation.
Following Ms. Berès comments, Thaima Samman asked Céline Brémaud to kick-off the panel sharing insights on the digital shift that took place in the last three/five years and observations on Microsoft’s daily life in this digital transformation. Céline first mentioned that the notion of “transformation” at Microsoft is perceived as a “journey”. Indeed, four years ago there was no cloud and now in her department 40% of the business is cloud based- in corporate accounts it is 20%, while three years ago it represented nothing. She added that Microsoft is a “real true partner” in the partner eco-system allowing deeper transformation and faster adjustment to the new ways of doing business and the dematerialization of what you are selling, such as the creation of value chain and the creation of intellectual property. Secondly, Ms. Brémaud discussed the “shift of power”. Before the power was in the hands of those who had the information now it is in the hands of those who are able to filter it. She is witnessing everyday how much the cloud is a fantastic innovation accelerator and growth driver for small and mid-companies because it is “boarder free” and therefore it offers a new playground to do business all around the world.
Turning to the European Commission’s point of view, Pauline Rouch explained that for President Jean-Claude Juncker, the digital agenda is essential because “the changes brought by digital are important”. Therefore, the Commission is building a European digital model by analyzing the successes and challenges faced by the countries which are already masters in the digital area. Then, Ms. Rouch outlined the Commission digital agenda’s three pillars, which includes: bringing better access to the digital goods, focus on helping the industry to set up innovative rules and services and finally the growth of the digital economy. However, she admitted that in order to reach those goals, there is a real need for investment, hence, in this fast-paced environment, the Commission is trying to establish the right conditions to foster a European investment plan and more public/private partnerships. Ms. Rouch finished by saying that “Capital” is the last frontier that needs to be break down and the Commission is using all the instruments at their disposal to deliver the most efficient policy.
Tying back to Pauline Rouch, Ms. Pilar del Castillo Vera similarly emphasized the European Parliament perspectives. She started by mentioning a very important agreement reached the night before, after 12 consecutive hours of discussion, which will abolish roaming charges starting June 2017 and provide a more open internet access for the EU citizens. She added that Europe is on the right path thanks to the institutions work, however, there needs to be a focus more on “the enabling factors”, in other words on investment- investments are essential to the digital revolution. MEP del Castillo finally stated that customers are leading the way, they are the “locomotive drivers” pushing innovation and creation, and this vibrant sense of creativity and innovation needs to be adopted by the political institutions as ‘we’ can’t afford to be ‘in the wagons in the middle of the train’.
Providing a perspective and voice from Small-Medium European Enterprises (SMEs), Daniëlle Vanwesenbeeck explained how her paper based company is succeeding in a digital world, how they transformed and what they need moving forward. Mastermail acknowledged that its customers are changing and shifting their communication styles and habits, which therefore means that they have different needs in a market that is transforming. So, Ms. Vanwesenbeeck realized that to keep her customers she needed to move from a “production company” to a “marketing company”. Consequently, Mastermail had to innovate and develop new products for their customers and find a link between the digital world and the market. In a nutshell, Mastermail transformed and now has half their employees working within IT development. She added that her company is no longer creating products but “services and partnerships”. Finally, she agreed on the fact that data protection is very important but the Commission can’t neglect the fact that a lot of companies are built on “consumers’ data” and it is very important to have a balance between market needs and the public policy.
The final panel speaker to take the floor, before opening the discussion to the room, was Ms. Megan Richards who expressed the DG CONNECT standpoints. She started by mentioning the “first basic principle”: “internet governance” which is a multi-stakeholder model based on shared norms, rules and decision-making procedures that shape the future and the use of the internet. For her, this model can be applied to the digital economy at large and to the policy framework because in those two areas there is a lack of public/private partnerships. Ms. Richards also mentioned that the European institutions are trying to design new policies by including innovative elements. Their goal is to insure that the data can pass in this very interconnected and expendable world. Ms. Richards also discussed the new legislation patterns that are taking all new ideas into consideration because the digital economy is a “revolution” that will inevitably make some jobs disappear, but also spawn new jobs- jobs we have cannot yet foresee. The cloud is the symbol of this “dramatic change”, and so to be successful, the institutions need to “create networks of networks” with more “open information” and greater collaboration from all stakeholders.
Several more guests participated in the discourse of the room, asking questions to the panelists about data protection and the capacity of having a single true digital law in Europe, sparking even more their interest on the topic of the day. Closing the session, WIL President Thaima Samman, expressed her gratitude for the overwhelming participation in the luncheon and the quality of the discussions, mentioning that more WIL activities in Brussels will follow so that we can continue these high-level, informative exchanges.
© European Network for Women in Leadership 2018