A career start in large groups
I wanted to start my career in a fairly traditional way as a sector manager in large groups, and particularly in the laundry industry. It was the royal road we were told about in the marketing field.
I started my career at Reckitt Benckiser where I stayed for 8 years. It's a laundry group that owns many brands like Harpic, Air Wick, Vanish...
I progressively climbed the ladder and quickly obtained responsibilities, including at international level. In the sixth year, I moved to a Global Category Manager position based in Germany, which involves analysing sales and opportunities. After 8 years, I wanted to return to France after having changed countries several times while remaining in an international career.
I joined the food company Mars Food and changed the brand universe, which corresponded to me a little better. Shortly afterwards, I joined the Pepsi company. At the age of 34, I gave birth to my daughter and decided to stop working for large companies.
I learned a lot by changing jobs and responsibilities every year.
It was curiosity that led me to evolve in my functions and to flourish in positions related to sales and marketing.
The click of motherhood
When you decide to have a child, especially if you are a woman, you have two choices. Slow down your career so that you can bring up your child, or continue to progress professionally while taking less advantage of your child, knowing that the ladder is getting thinner and thinner and more specialised.
I couldn't see a life balance in these large groups. At the same time, I took an opportunity that was a turning point in my career.
It turns out that my very first boss, whom I had when I was 24, had left everything behind to set up start-ups in e-commerce. He had been bought out by a company called Webedia, which wanted to launch DNVBs, a very fashionable word for Digital Native Vertical Brand. So he asked me to join this adventure, even though I knew nothing about digital.
I was getting bored in my job and didn't see any way to progress professionally. Moreover, I wanted to be able to assume my role as a mother. I finally accepted even though I knew nothing about digital marketing or DNVB. I thought that my curiosity would be fully satisfied!
Getting into intrapreneurship
I joined the Webedia group, which bought the start-up "Surprise Me" specialising in gift boxes by subscription and which has two brands. I have only two constraints to respect when joining this group: the activity must be food-related and the sale must be by subscription. As I am passionate about food, this was a great fit!
So we launched a brand called Illico Fresco, which is a subscription of ready-to-cook products. Each week you receive the ingredients to prepare two to four meals for 2 to 5 people.
We launch the whole structure around this activity, i.e. the warehouses, the workshops, the logistics, the purchases...
Unfortunately, it didn't work out. Four years later, we had to stop this brand. Our majority shareholder considered that it would take too long to achieve profitability. However, I don't regret this experience acquired during 4 years and which continues to feed me today.
Taking a career break
I left the company at the end of this adventure. I couldn't see what else I could do. I took six months to think about what I wanted to do. I could go back to a large group that offers me security but gives me less impact. On the other hand, I could go into something even more entrepreneurial.
I think that in France, we don't value reflection time enough in our careers. You always have to have a set career and think about the next experience in the medium and long term. Sometimes you need a break when you are very involved in your work.
I needed to take some time to digest this failure because I initially took it as a failure. I also had to lay off 18 people who were young and employable, but it was still a blow. I also needed to take some time for myself and to look after my child.
When I started the project, I put my personal life on hold. I'll always remember the period when I was working on the website and they called me at 3am to do tests! It's quite exhausting.
I needed to take a 6 month break after a dozen years of continuous work. I wanted to give myself time to reflect. I must admit that at the very beginning I felt guilty. I went to job interviews where HR told me I wasn't ready to work again.
At a certain point, I came to know more about what I wanted and didn't want. Under these conditions, you are obviously more effective in your search.
Knowing how to welcome a big and short challenge
After six months, through a mutual relationship, I met the founder of Greenweez, the leader in organic e-commerce in France, which was bought by Carrefour. His wish was to open a local logistics warehouse in Paris that would deliver to customers the same day they ordered. This express delivery is a real challenge, as Amazon has revolutionised standards in this area.
This is how we launched Greenweez express, which is a subsidiary, only in Paris at the beginning. For two years, the activity struggled to take off, although a team was recruited in a warehouse in Rungis. With the head office in Annecy, the manager had difficulty managing everything.
I joined the adventure in November 2019 and after three months I opened a warehouse with a team of three people.
We set up all the equipment as well as the refrigeration logistics. This is an area I know because I worked in the food industry. We had to think about the range of products to offer to a Parisian clientele.
In parallel with this work, I was in discussion with Leetchi about projects that had not yet been completed. For a whole range of reasons, I finally chose to work at Leetchi, in particular because the Fintech field attracted me. At Greenweez, we would have to open additional warehouses in France, and I didn't necessarily want to be mobile.
The Leetchi adventure
There were two open positions in this company, which specialised in online fundraising for private or solidarity events. At that time, they did not have a marketing director or an operations director.
I first applied for the position of marketing director. The recruitment process takes some time. And finally I was offered the position of operations director because I had experience in brand creation (finance, marketing, project prioritisation, etc.).
Let your curiosity guide you
If you have fun in what you are doing, you usually perform well and the career path follows. In business school, I was under the impression that there was only one royal road in each field: finance, marketing, entrepreneurship... whereas this is not the case. There are a multitude of paths and the professions are evolving enormously. You shouldn't set yourself a precise career plan, but trust yourself because evolution comes by itself.