Hello, my name is Frédéric Daruty. I'm going to tell you how I became President of 20 Minutes. Discover my career path from Procter & Gamble in 1991 to 20 Minutes in 2021. I will also tell you about my years at EM Normandie, which really marked me. I have kept excellent relations with my classmates, both from the former and following classes. Today I can say that my best friends are from my class.
The first professional steps
In 1991, it was the period of the Gulf War which marked a stage in the recruitment of executives in general. When we left school, we each received 5 or 6 job offers from recruiters without having to do anything. I remember receiving an offer from Mölnlycke, which produced Nana brand feminine protection. I laughed myself to death with my friends because I couldn't see myself selling this type of product to a buyer at all.
I eventually joined Procter & Gamble, who decided 6 months later to launch the Always brand. I found myself selling this product while it wasn't ready yet, having to explain technically why it was a very good product. The company helped me to find the right words to talk about a product that made me feel uncomfortable. Cultures have changed a lot since then because we talk about sanitary protection in a more liberal way, even among men. The anecdote is that I found myself selling this product to buyers in supermarkets, whereas I had refused to do so in a previous company!
The early days of digital
At that time, new technologies were much less present. In France, we were still on Minitel and mobile phones barely existed. I remember having my first mobile phone in the car in the form of a large suitcase to carry!
I left Procter & Gamble in 2000 to join a startup that sold all sorts of beauty products online (mass market, parapharmacy, perfumery, etc.). This e-commerce site was a bit early in terms of payment security and the quality of the Internet connection at the time. After a year, the project failed because we weren't selling enough.
We were at the beginning of digital media. AOL, which was an Internet access provider, succeeded in creating an environment that was specific enough to its users to develop a different media offer, with an advertising network, commercial offers... It was the right mix between a fairly innovative organisation and a brand that was already a few years old.
I joined AOL to work on marketing the offer and structuring the commercial offer. I did that for a year and then gradually the taste for sales returned. I helped develop an offer for the mass market to bring the products of major brands to digital. I gradually took on more responsibility, becoming sales manager and then general manager in 2008.
I knew that we would have to restructure the teams. During a business trip to London, we were told that AOL was going to close all its offices and keep only those in the English-speaking countries. The announcement was quite violent because I was going to have to lay off 87 people. I had no choice but to accept this decision.
Fortunately, these employees were very successful and quickly found work elsewhere. Moreover, the labour market at the time was particularly dynamic.
Managing the digital transformation of a large group
I met a former colleague from Procter who knew that AOL was not doing well. He was working at Prisma Presse (Prisma Media) and was looking for someone to manage the digital business, including the digital transformation of the companies.
Prisma is a strong media brand with brands such as Geo, Capital, Femme Actuelle, National Geographic... Another very popular brand at the time was Télé-Loisirs which is now a widely used application for viewing the TV programme. Prisma also has a strong capacity to produce content, with 500 press cards that write a lot of content for print.
The challenge was to ensure that these brands also exist on digital channels. Each of the brands had quite different targets and cultures. We had to find the right people to manage this transformation and put in place common tools to develop.
I was at a stage in my career where I had had quite a long experience in each company. I wanted to question myself and think about my future, such as choosing between a small and a large organisation, finding a ratio between risk and excitement at work.
Becoming President of 20 Minutes
What really convinced me to join 20 Minutes was the fact that the brand is very well known and has a strong DNA. It is also a human-sized team of 200 people, unlike Prisma, which is a very powerful group at the international level with 1,300 people.
I found that joining 20 Minutes was an opportunity to find more agility and to move the lines a little more quickly, something I needed. You have to know yourself, identify your aspirations and tastes to be able to develop personally in your professional environment. You have to find meaning in your work, even if this meaning is different at the beginning and end of your career. It helps to guide one's choices in the short and medium-term.
The link to the EM Normandie class
The School's class is my first network of friends. It is very important to me because we share common tastes and we appreciate each other enormously. We have a certain closeness that makes us understand each other very quickly. I also met my wife at the School and I don't think I'm the only one who did!
Thanks to the network, you stay very close to your class as well as the one before and after. Naturally, with time, the links become weaker with the next classes, but the links remain strong with your own class. My best friends are those I met at EM Normandie.