From the start, you knew how to make your mark in the sector of the restaurant and hospitality business. You are currently co-president of the “Groupe Germain Hotels” and more specifically you are in charge of the experiential component. In addition to preside over a growing business, you sit on several boards and you devote yourself to charitable work in the community.
GOING BACK TO YOUR BEGINNINGS, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
My great need for independence! I started working when I was very young; it was important for me to stand on my own two legs. Subsequently, I quickly realized that I wanted to work for myself. Work was a way for me to gain confidence, to take my place, to develop and fulfill myself. At the time, starting a business was not something to be scared of: I was very much a go-getter! My brother and I opened our first restaurant together; we have been collaborating from the very beginning of our entrepreneurial activities. We are a very united family.
THROUGHOUT YOUR JOURNEY, HAS THE FACT OF BEING A WOMAN IN THE BUSINESS WORLD HELPED OR HINDERED YOU? DO YOU HAVE FEMALE ROLE MODELS THAT HAVE PARTICULARLY INSPIRED YOU?
When I started, there were very few women present in the business world. However, at that time, certain social qualities that were more attributed to women, such as empathy and sensitivity, could not be put forward in the business environment as easily as today. Looking back, I realize that I speak more frankly today compared to the past; I tended to be tougher, maybe because I tried to conform myself more to the customs of that time.
I have an incredible amount of admiration for women who do great things, and they all inspire me the same way.
COULD YOU TALK TO US ABOUT THE ORGANISATION OF YOUR WORK WITHIN YOUR DUTIES?
I mainly work in human resources, customer experience, brand management and operations, and I’m also involved in the development of plans. My role within the company requires me to travel a lot. I do a tour of all the hotels every two months. I also travel on a personal level to get inspired. Recently I cut down on the frequency of my trips, because I needed to take a break. It is important to step back and find inspiration elsewhere, for example by reading or through personal encounters, which have always been a source of great inspiration to me.
WHICH ASPECT OF YOUR WORK DO YOU PREFER THE MOST? AFTER ALL THESE YEARS, WHAT IS IT THAT MOTIVATES YOU TO CONTINUE PROFESSIONALLY?
I’m really motivated by the idea of creating jobs. I also enjoy seeing my employees evolve and start their own families. Retirement? I have not thought about it yet! I’m not a big planner. To not work anymore would be a big change. Work occupies an extremely important part in my life. Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle: I do not calculate my hours. I would like to find a better balance between work and my personal life and spend more time in the countryside. But I have the tendency to want to be present at the office at all times. So I have to work on changing that habit.
HAVE YOUR PARENTS GIVEN YOU ANY BUSINESS ADVICE THAT HAS FOLLOWED YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CARREER? IS THERE ONE ADVICE THAT WAS CRUCIAL TO YOUR CAREER?
My parents were very ambitious. Their motto was: “Having ideas is good, but you have to make them come true!” That vision was stuck in my head all throughout my career and has encouraged me to put my heart and energy into all my projects in order for them to take shape.
YOU HAVE ALREADY MENTIONED YOUR VISION FOR BALANCING YOUR WORK AND FAMILY LIFE OR RATHER THE LACK OF IT. CAN YOU TELL US MORE?
We cannot have everything we want and to think “I can do it all” should be avoided. I think there is tremendous social pressure associated with parenting and that can create a sense of guilt that is not necessarily constructive.
When I think back to the time when my daughter was a child, I realize that I felt an immense fatigue for several years. My quality of life was practically non-existent. Today, I feel privileged to have a good quality of life, with additional efforts required sometimes during certain periods. I have not been the most present mother, but my relationship with my daughter is extraordinary! I believe in the quality of the time spent together rather than the quantity. I believe that if we realize ourselves as a person we indirectly nurture our children.
YOU WORK WITH SEVERAL MEMBERS OF YOUR FAMILY. IS IT DIFFICULT TO JUGGLE THE DIFFERENT ROLES SOMETIMES AND ARE THERE FAMILY TENSIONS THAT CAN BE FELT ONCE IN A WHILE? DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS YOU WOULD LIKE TO SHARE?
It is difficult sometimes and you have to accept that! You have to make sure to maintain an environment that is conducive to keeping a good relationship despite the tensions that can occur during stressful moments at work.
OUTSIDE OF BUSINESS, WHAT ARE YOUR PASSIONS? HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR BALANCE?
I love beautiful things! I am interested in fashion, clothing and decoration. I am also an Epicurean who likes to cook, tends to a small vineyard and entertains guests at home.
To find my balance, I fast for ten days every year. I believe in the virtues of cleansing and for me the fasting is an important step to restart at zero. I live an intense and fast life, and that’s why I like to offer my body a real break. Fasting suits my active temperament. 25 years ago, I experienced the water fast in Germany, the pioneer country in that field, and I found it extremely difficult. Nowadays I do the broth fast, which I like much more.
QUICK PERSONALITY Q & A
Difficulty expressing my displeasure
To live somewhere else
European countries and Japan
TEA OR COFFEE
RUNNING OR YOGA
HAPPINESS OR PLEASURE
Happiness is in the pleasure!
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