• The Centre for Inclusive Leadership


What are 3 things that best describe you?

  1. Outside the box thinker – I will usually question dogmas and conventions.

I have built my own set of beliefs and reject pre-established limitations and bias. And I constantly evolve based on new experiences, encounters, and books I read.

  1. Curious, I am an avid learner and challenger.

Creative but also very organised. Creativity works better for me when there is a plan associated to it and I really like to do things, not only dream or talk about them.

What is the biggest misconception about you?

I think assumptions are made about me (I am from west of Paris) perhaps that I am ‘a bit posh’ maybe. But interestingly my children often say I am the most unconventional mother! And they seem to value that. Looks do not define people.

What did you want to be when you were growing up and why?

An architect, a lawyer, a surgeon, a mountain guide, an adventurer, a writer too! Reflecting on it, it all makes sense, I really like to repair and build things and using my hands. I am a storyteller and I love happy endings. Order and harmony are very important, and alpinism is a true passion. When climbing or skiing I feel completely connected to the world, a very little part of a much bigger system, humbled by the force of nature. Someone said “all good things are wild and free”, that speaks to a part of me. The other part of me works in a big corporation in a big city. It is all about being true to yourself, isn’t it?

Who has massively influenced you on your journey?

Gosh, how long can the answer be? There are wonderfully famous women who have inspired me from history or on the public stage, the list which starts by the British Queen for the dedication to her role.

But the most powerful inspiration is every day, with the women I love, my friends, colleagues, daughters, partner. Most just astounds having busy professional lives and yet keeping their families going at home with calm and kindness.

I am inspired by all the women who bring their whole selves, share who they are openly and bring their intuition, pragmatism, good sense, courage, fragility, resilience and ability to love into what they do. I am inspired by women that directly say, “no I can’t” and “yes it’s a great idea, let’s do it” and keep up their word. I am inspired by warriors that use emotional intelligence, humour and kindness rather than swords or authority. As such many women of my generation and the one above have driven me. And today I am blown away by the courage and determination of the younger ones. It makes me very optimistic about the future!

How did you do get to where you are in your career?

I worked hard is a true but very partial answer. I am constantly trying to stay balanced between my needs but also my family, work life and friends. I often use the image of a stool with 4 legs, each needing to be solid and strong.

I believe effectiveness comes when people are solidly aligned with who they are and that is completely true of professional life.

I did look for and benefited from help and guidance and never waited for promotion, rather asked for it. Asking is important, men ask all the time, for pay increases, promotions, more responsibilities, women need to also! Asking is a strength.

Being ambitious is fine, it is about figuring out the path to get to where you want to, don’t doubt the destination. You have to want things badly enough, stay humble but not subservient.

In what ways have you seen women make great change in work?

Year after year, I have consistently seen women deliver brilliance, kindness and thoughtfulness as leaders and team members. Women have brought emotional intelligence and different viewpoints to leadership, which have made these roles more positive. Most importantly, I have seen leadership evolve, from managing with the head to managing from the heart. Women have that power, they bring sense and love, well a least some of them, and those ones are admirable.

Let’s work together to help women rise.

Let’s work together to help everyone rise.

Let’s work together to help to world rise.

What is the best way to get more women into senior roles?

First, I am a strong advocate of incentives or targets to accelerate diversity. Without targets, parity will likely take 140 years!

Should be I believe very important. Women have that power, they bring sense and love, well a least some of them, and those ones are admirable. Should be well at least some of them, Let’s work together to help to world rise. Should be Let’s work together to help the world rise.

And last, women themselves need to understand they deserve it. There is no such thing as a glass ceiling. Women need to want senior roles, ask for them and be themselves. Trying to match masculine traits will not work, we need senior role models that are authentically themselves, truly women.

What things have you learned as a result of COVID?

Freedom is fragile and should be cherished and women as often are the most impacted when a crisis occur, as they naturally put themselves second to their children and families. During this past year, I have been amazed how many of my friends continued to deliver value whilst also juggling the pressures of work and family like never before. I know for many it often felt more like surviving and less about thriving and of course I hope we will soon be back to a more normal situation. This pandemic has been brutally hard and has turned back on much of the progress that had been made on gender equality.

What I found the most difficult was to be limited in my ability to see my loved ones and the change of rhythm from working in the office to working from home (or sleeping in my office). The first months I had to reset my ways of working and it was painful and then I found out I was actually more productive. More productive but not necessarily more happy, I miss the interactions, the social life, the friendship and the fun!

What do you do to unwind?

My peace refuge is being in the mountains, in the middle of wilderness and beauty, walking or climbing, always mindful that nature is strongest.

When in London, I have lots of activities, from swimming in the very cold water of the Hampstead pond, cycling across the city, just calling a friend, a “tete à tete” with good book, cooking. Anything that quiets my busy active mind really.

If you could do one thing to change the world, what would it be and why?

I will choose to challenge diversity and inclusivity of thought. For me whatever gender or sexual orientation or race we are, we all are equal.

The world is built on patriarchal rules, yet we should challenge each and every one of them and equally champion positive feminine and masculine traits. Gender equality is not just good for women, it’s good for the world. And there is so much to do still!

Part of our choose to challenge mission is to dispel the myth that women are threatened by each other and can’t /don’t support one another – can you talk to an experience when a woman helped you?

I would say it is not a myth, I have experienced women rivalry on several occasions during my career. And it still happens we need to face it. I find it unacceptable and a sign of lack of confidence. Women face many natural hurdles, solidarity and sonority must absolutely prevail! Times are changing, my current business partner is my best ally and a friend, we watch each other’s back and I am proud to be working for and with her and thankful for her kind and unbiased support.

Valérie Maure – Senior Partner & the Europe Mobile Leader at IBM iX.

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