“Home is wherever I am,” says Juliette. “I adapt quickly to most situations, try to learn from other people, and show gratitude to anyone who’s willing to share. I was born in France, but grew up in Senegal, and this dual culture is the best gift I could ever have. After high school, there weren’t many options for me to carry on studying in Dakar, so I did a Master’s degree in Marketing and International People Management at a business school in Paris. Through student exchange programs, I traveled to Spain, Argentina and Brazil. When I finished my studies in São Paulo, I knew I wanted to embark on my career outside of Europe. I saw a vacancy on a job site, offering a two-year contract at GEA to work as a business developer. I was well aware that without an engineering background I might stand less chance than the other applicants, so I prepared for the interview thoroughly. I made it clear that I had the right mindset to open up doors in my home environment and find new business and managed to convince the interview panel that I was the best person for the job. I was thrilled about working in such an environment, where industrial development is only just starting compared with a mature market like Europe.”
Home is wherever I am. I adapt quickly to most situations, try to learn from other people, and show gratitude to anyone who is willing to share.
From Senegal to Singapore
“After I was recruited, GEA gave me every chance to learn about its technology portfolio. I visited several European technology centers and met some passionate people who were willing to share their knowledge. I then spent two years in Senegal, traveling around West Africa in order to reconnect with historic clients and find new business opportunities for the company. Fascinating experience. Since 2016 I’ve been focusing on the Service business, working in Singapore. You can imagine how big a change it was moving from Africa to Asia! But relationships are just as important in both contexts. I regard the Regional Heads of Service as my internal customers, and it’s my responsibility to foster good collaboration with the Technical Support and to assist in the business development and strategic decisions. Today, we work as a team, and everyone has a role to play. In my case, my business and intercultural management background offers an alternative to the traditional engineering mindset. To me, added value lies in the diversity of background, age and experience of a team, as that’s what stimulates creativity and problem-solving.”
Turning disadvantages into advantages
“I started my career with GEA France and looking back, I was quite surprised at the time that they chose me based on my personality and potential and didn’t just look at what I didn’t have (an engineering background), I am really grateful to the people who gave me my chance at the time. When I worked for GEA in Senegal, I noticed that if you do business development, on top of the technical solution you’re selling, personality and charisma can make a difference. When I used to visit prospective clients to persuade them to work with GEA, I could see some people were surprised to see a woman working for an engineering company in Africa (laughs). But that never held me back. Quite the opposite, in fact. I adapted, and always tried to understand what was left unsaid and build trust so that people wouldn’t forget me and would think of GEA when an opportunity came up – and it worked! I feel that there’s always a way to turn what can appear to be a disadvantage into an advantage.”
I feel that there’s always a way to turn what appears to be a disadvantage into an advantage.
“At GEA, you get a chance to grow and there are lots of internal mobility opportunities. I really value that. When I was offered a job in Singapore after my stint in Senegal, I was glad that the company was able to suggest such an opportunity even though I had never been to Asia before, but I had clearly demonstrated that I was willing to learn about local cultures and markets. That global mindset suits GEA, but it also suits me. And when I recently did the ‘First professional program’, it was further proof that GEA really wants to invest in its employees and help them develop their skills. But don’t get me wrong: it’s primarily up to you to create your own opportunities by being proactive.”