Can you introduce yourself and your background?
As far back as I can remember, I have always been driven by the notions of transformation, transmission and influence. I started my career in recruitment, career management, training, consulting, HR development and facilitation. After 20 years in large corporations, I felt the need to create my own consulting agency in transformation strategies and influence development. This is why I founded Talents Awake in 2015.
Today, I would say that I have two expertise, two passions: the advising and coaching of leaders and decision-makers in contexts of transformation (individual or collective, cultural or managerial), and the facilitation and moderation of pan-African and international events, in order to highlight Talents and allow them to highlight their projects and their vision, and thus benefit the greatest number.
You support women and men leaders through your work. What are your next goals (short and long term)?
I support them in three different, often complementary ways: executive coaching, training and event facilitation. My first objective is to put them in the spotlight, with their organizations, so that this visibility can allow them to explain what they do, why they do it, and ultimately attract future collaborators, investors, sponsors… in a nutshell, help them create bridges and partnerships with actors of their ecosystem to amplify their impact.
Behind the coaching I offer, there is also the question of legacy and transmission: what do I leave behind? How can I pass on what I know, what I have learned, what I have created? The ultimate goal is that these men and women, these Talents, can share, transmit and answer this fundamental question of legacy.
You are going to co-present, with Hafsat Abiola, Presidente of Women In Africa, WIA’s new exclusive “Meet with” series of webinars aimed at meeting female role models and women of influence from the African continent. What kind of profiles will you highlight in this series?
It is a format that perfectly responds to this question of legacy and transmission. The profiles we will meet and highlight are women who are asking themselves what they will pass on to new and future generations. They are truly influential women, both in their sector, in their environment, but also in their practices. We will be able to dissect this very notion of influence, what it implies, in particular the need to be attentive to the populations and environments that the decisions they influence will impact.
What makes this format unique is its bilingual approach, both French and English speaking, which will allow us to highlight women from all over the continent and will bring a crossed look, a change of perspectives. Also, the possibility for the audience to ask questions before the discussions, and not only during lives.
Our objective is to make these influential women accessible, by demystifying the function and by asking this central question in my opinion: who is the woman behind the job? What is it that carries her through the day and will continue to guide her at all costs?
Who have been your role models and what impact have they had on your career?
I often cite two role models that I know I have in common with many: Oprah, a true woman of the media who has this impressive ability to create a universal language, and Michelle Obama, a woman who came out of a presidential regime unscathed, who did not lose herself in politics and who knew how to remain faithful to her convictions, while putting them “at the service of”.
But to cite a woman who had a real impact on my career, and on my life choices really, I would like to pay tribute to Leopoldine Douala Manga Bell, the first black woman to ever become a flight attendant. A Cameroonian woman of royal blood who has always done everything to break away from the codes and boxes in which she was put. A woman who made the choice to leave Africa while dedicating her life to insisting on how important our roots are, by working on what gathers and connects black Americans with black Africans. It is from her that I get this conviction of the importance of honoring our roots. She is also the one who made me understand how commitment is a fulfillment in itself, because you contribute to something bigger, something beyond yourself. A woman who is both inaccessible and accessible!
You yourself are two influential women leaders on the African continent. What do you think are the main qualities of a good leader?
They can be summed up, in my opinion, under the notions of honesty, commitment and responsibility. Honesty towards oneself before anything else: knowing oneself enough to ask for help and knowing with whom one can create alliances. You can’t rule alone, and it is with others that you enrich your vision. Commitment: remember that what we do, we do first for others and that it is this commitment that gives meaning to our actions. And finally, having a sense of responsibility and the ability to unite around a vision, a common project.
In my opinion, leadership is not so much about power, it’s what you do with it.
What message could you bring to African women who want to become the leaders of tomorrow?
They must realize that they are born leaders! In their homes, in their jobs, in their communities. They will then be able to equip themselves and give themselves the means to deconstruct the dominant stories, which certainly build us but also destroy and limit us. They will thus be able to create their own voice and path. Women leaders are those who dare to act differently.