#PWNLeadYourLife: PWN Paris Congress delivers insights on Innovation, Well-being, Balance and Leadership.

22 June 2018

By Christèle Dupiellet, Alexandra Germeau, Isabelle Guidat, Claire Perrin, Marie Laure Barreau.

Over 150 women and men attended the annual PWN Paris Congress held at the Hotel de L’Industrie, in St Germain des Prés, on June 12th, 2018. 

Challenging weather and transportation conditions faced the attendants, causing delays and preventing Axelle Lemaire, guest speaker, to be present at the first conference on Innovation & Transformation.  

Spirits were high however as the Congress opened on a warm welcome by host Christina Balanos, introducing Shahine Ismail, founder of L’Arbre de Vie, for a unique opening session of breathing and meditative exercises. 

The audience was ready for the introduction by PWN Paris Co-President Françoise Derolez

Her first words were addressed to the members of the network but also to the members of PWN Global: Presidents Sonya Richardson & Rob Baker, Rina Goldenberg Lynch and Philinna Toiny (PWN London), Simona Rusu-Beschia (PWN Vienna) and Virginia Otel (PWN Bucharest).  

Françoise reminded the two missions of PWN: provide tools, resources, mentoring and networking opportunities to support women to develop their career, and also advocate for gender balance and the role of women in the corporate and civil societies. 


As a testimony to PWN mission, Françoise then introduced Isabelle Lange, VP Women On Board/Top Executive, to present the Board Network - a joint initiative with another association, Le Cercle Gouvernance & Equilibre. 

The Board Network is a proactive, collaborative and living network of women already appointed in boards, or ready to be. The goal is to facilitate access for women to boards and advisory boards of private or public companies, by aggregating their connections and knowledge, and sharing the mandates as they open. 

The Board Network comes at the right time, in line with the evolution of the Cope-Zimmermann law that will allow, by 2020, women to access 40% of the seats in the boards of midsize companies and start-up of over 250 employees and 50M€ turnover.  

The importance of inclusion and diversity being at the heart of PWN Paris actions, the news of the launch of the Board Network was received with great attention by the audience, as shown by the immediate reaction on Twitter, or the publication of articles in key media such as La Tribune. 


Time was up for the first conference, on Innovation and Transformation, featuring author and consultant Olivier Ezratty, interviewed by PWN Paris VP Events, Corinne Albert.  Both started by relaying the kind words sent by Axelle Lemaire, who could not make it to the Hotel de L’Industrie due to heavy transportation issues. 

Throughout their careers, both Axelle and Olivier have shown a strong interest in new technology whilst supporting women in society. Both have embraced and evangelized Transformation and Innovation. 

First, Olivier Ezratty highlighted some alert points regarding women and digital. The world is changing fast, women should not miss the train and get organised to jump on it. This is even truer since we know that 70% of jobs occupied by women will not exist anymore in the near future because of AI. Women need to embrace technology and get ready to transform themselves. 

AI is built and fed by men. One could question why AI is built by men, why engineering school are made of men and so little women, why so many stereotypes are still persisting. It is now vital to promote digital jobs to young women, develop appropriate learning environment to approach a more balanced eco-system. Women must dare to be a part of the digital game and the AI adventure. Women must dare to conquer top management jobs and dare to fight for equality. 

Ethically, AI must reflect the true diversity of today’s society: men, women, races, orientations, 

Olivier Ezratty then reminded the audience that even if we have the feeling that the world is going faster, it is important to remember that all major innovations go through a 25 year-cycles (from very early invention to its broader existence). This is still the case for innovation we see today. E.g.: Smartphones had been invented in the early 70’s.         

As a conclusion, Olivier Ezratty offered a strong motivational call: the world is complex but all transitions in History have proven to be outstanding zones of opportunities. The most important for women is to embrace this transition phase from scratch and DARE to be part of it, to move forward because it has always been positive and will remain so.


Between conferences, PWN Paris let the stage to 3 start-ups whose activity is in direct relation to its Congress thematic, #LeadYourLife: Innovation, Well-being, Balance and Leadership  

PopMyDay opened the pitching exercise. 

In less than 3 years, founder Morgane L’Hostis and her team developed an app that is currently in the lead for “beauty at home” services. Addressing the needs of women and men for a reliable service of beauty professionals and a user-friendly interface to take an appointment 7/7, from 7am to 10pm. PopMyDay has a comprehensive offer of services ranging from hairdresser, to skin experts and nail specialists. The app is currently available on iOs and soon on Android. 


The second conference, on Well-being and Stress (Prevention) hosted Doctor Anne Gut-Fayand, whose contribution to the Fondation Denicker and her works on preventing psychological risks at work, is highly recognized in the medical and corporate world. 

Dr Anne Gut-Fayand started her presentation with a reminder of what is defined by stress, and the signals one should pay attention to: exhaustion, withdrawal and lack of interest, anxiety. These symptoms, particularly when added, or on a long-term period are clear indicators that we ought to be able to identify on our own, or with the help of our closed ones (family, friends, etc.) 

Dr Anne Gut-Fayand also delivered a strong message to the audience: when your doctor delivers you a sick leave, do not ignore it! No matter how difficult it is, they can be salutary and prevent the aggravation of the condition. 

According to Anne Gut-Fayand, there are several key strategies to prevent psychological risks at work: identify/monitor your condition and state of mind, define and aim for short-term objectives, set clear and binding limits, refrain from over-achievement and being perfect, nurture your self-confidence, and take a step aside from social norms and orders, in particular through social media. 

One challenge, Dr Gut Fayand, acknowledged is to identify and find enough information on the solutions available: understand the various types of therapies and the type of condition they are most suited for, or find a practitioner are amongst the hurdles most often faced by patients. Also, the question of medication was raised: what, how long for, the duration of treatment. 

As a doctor, her insight on the matter is to recognize good and efficiency in all therapies, ranging from medical, chemical to alternative ones, depending on the profile and context of the condition. 

As a conclusion, Dr Anne Gut-Fayand reiterated her message, and warning to all women and men in the audience: we need to be attentive to the dangers of over-achievement and the lure for perfection, whether it’d be for us, our family and particularly our children.  


The second pitch of the day was Boost’rs, presented by Vincent Lebunetel and Laetitia Charitat, “a digital career coach”, namely a talent management platform designed to helps individuals and organizations to realize their potential by mapping skills and competencies, enabling to customize career paths, training programs or create project teams. 

The audience was then offered to separate in smaller groups to attend four different workshops in the course of the following 3 hours, with a much-enjoyed break with lunch boxes provided by partner Sam Pepper . 


The workshops, created and led by PWN VP’s and members followed the #PWNLeadYourLife themes.  

Romaine Johnstone, VP Professional Development, presented “Lead Your Emotions”

Emotions are everywhere, at all times, complex and they influence systems around us. In team management, all members are “co-responsible” for achieving goals and keeping the environment as positive as possible. We endorse different roles in a day,  we can influence all of them if we want to, if we acknowledge it and stand ready to change, the system and ourselves.

Romaine offered an experience a conflictual dialogue between protagonists, strategically located at an angle of a triangle: a manager (with a project potentially at risk) confronting an employee who doesn’t deliver what is required, for various reasons

As expected, the play started with negative tensions and heated exchanges. Roles were then reversed before debrief for both protagonists to express personal emotions from their own seat. 

The play concluded with a common move to the third angle to find a consensus and terminate the conflict.  

The learning curve is to outline how essential it is to create a space where emotions can be expressed and respected, decide upfront and together what can be done if the situation goes bad for one party or for both... Have a sign? a word? In order to say “Stop, it is not ok for me anymore”      


Aude Latouche, former VP Entrepreneur, shared her expertise and method on “How to build your Strategy”.

Strategy is a holistic system comprising the definition of the objective, business model and action plan. Strategy does not prevent agility, it allows the flexibility needed to make adjustments to achieve the objective. 

Language used to present the strategy reflects on the posture and intention of the entrepreneur: it must be clear, concise, confident and avoid approximations (“I’m trying to”, “maybe”, “if…”) 

There are three steps to build a strategy. 

1/ Define your objective, and go beyond the simple expression of it: question it, define key metrics (when it is achieved, what it brings, what will follow, etc.). Vision and values are also essential points to include, and, when an entrepreneur, be sure to differentiate professional from personal aspirations.  

2/ Clarify the business model, using existing templates can make the task easier, the most important being to challenge the document once it is finished, and ideally proceed to an in-vivo testing phase. 

3/ Set up an action plan, in writing, and make it accessible and visible everyday. Make sure to allocate time on the actions where you are the least comfortable.  

Processing your strategy will enable you to go from objective to action plan/decision-making in an automated/proficient manner. Be flexible but committed and rigorous, that is the key to successful entrepreneurship! 


PWN member and active volunteer (part of the Congress organisation team) Virginie Améaume, introduced a new concept in her workshop “Lead the Relationships you Deal with”: mediation. 

A certified mediator, she first offered some history on the process : used in African conversation groups, it was adopted in the 80’s, by US companies looking to avoid expensive and long lawsuits, in Quebec for familial therapies and in France, with lawyer Robert Badinter, to improve victims’ testimony in court.  

The process  includes four major steps and times :

1/ outline the disagreement and allow all parties to stand on their positions (« disagree on the disagreement »)

2 / Define the sources of disagreement and parties’ motivations (« agree on the disagreement « )

3/ Define what could potentially be done / put in place

4/ Define an action plan and parties’ involvement and role.  

There are two techniques commonly used to conduct the process : systemic analysis (understand the context & interactions) or reasoned negotiation (separate the object of disagreement from protagonists, interests from posture, and inject creativity to set up measurable solutions) 

Mediation has been used in the public sphere (legal, familial, education, health etc.) and is now being applied to corporate companies as a means to avoid or prevent escalating tensions and conflicts, improve communication and collaboration between individuals. 

Training and certification (130-hr course) is available at the IFOMEN institute. 


Martine Van Went, former PWN Paris President, and Catherine Brennan, former PWN Paris General Secretary, co-hosted the workshop “Digital Recruitment”, to share insights on trends and innovations 

The workshop opened with a Q&A on what are the main benefits & risks, from an employer and an employee point of view. According to a study led amongst PWN members, there is a general consensus on mutual benefits. 

From an employee’s perspective, it allows a better visibility towards recruiters, the possibility to reach out or establish connections, a greater knowledge of the company and its environment, and a faster process. 

From an employer’s perspective, it allows transparency (data validation), a greater searching spectrum (beyond its markets), the ability to provide a comprehensive presentation of its company and values, and a faster/more efficient process with predictive approach.

Risks include data protection, e-reputation, mobility issues, standardization and loss of human contact with automated processes, data authenticity and resistance to change.

As a conclusion, recruitment does and will benefit from an agile combination of human intervention (soft skills) and automation (efficiency).


The audience gathered back to the main auditorium for the next two conferences, preceded by Shahine Ismail’s second intervention, introducing guests and speakers to the power of vocal expression, with over 120 humming voices resonating in unison.  


Professor Emeritus René Frydman, pioneer in IVF and an expert in reproductive medicine and Professor Viviane de Beaufort, searcher at ESSEC and founder of Women Executive Programmes, came on stage to for a talk on parenthood, and balance between career and family life

Professor Frydman opened up with factual information on fertility and its lifecycles, stating key figures: average age for a first pregnancy is 32 in Paris, it is possible, at the age of 34, to accurately determine the ovarian reserve, and natural procreation past the age of 43 is down to 1%. 

He insisted on the importance of accurately informing women (and men) both in the personal and the professional sphere as there is, according to him, a clear misrepresentation of fertility, leading to a disruption of the timeline: women postponing, by choice or pressure, the time to conceive a child, thus resulting in an increase of IVF interventions. According to René Frydman, it is important to clearly separate the power and possibilities of reproductive medicine from the reality of fertility lifecycle and the personal aspirations to have children. 

Professor Viviane De Beaufort took over, sharing insights and trends on career construction: the impact of stress, the mental charge related to work (entrepreneur and salaried alike), and the consequences of parental leave on evolution, aspirations and social injunctions (finances, status, etc.). 

A mentor to young (female) entrepreneurs and a professor, Viviane de Beaufort insisted on the importance to relay the message that, no matter how much longer our (professional) life is, the lifecycle of fertility remains the same, thus it is vital to teach and support young people to choose their priorities carefully. 

Professor Frydman continued on the legal and social environment of IVF, stating that France has strict regulations on freezing oocytes (permitted on therapeutic cases) and does not allow embryonic potential analysis. According to his experience, there is no noticeable drop in the aspiration to becoming a parent but a definite role of social pressure (need for perfection) in young people postponing the age of procreation.  

Both Professor Frydman and Professor De Beaufort agreed to conclude on a common message: the need to establish priorities and inform on the reality of fertility lifecycle. 


In sync with the theme of parenting, the last start-up pitch, presented by Santa Rossi, was Inverseo, a revolutionary digital assistant (IoT) for women to naturally follow their cycles, optimizing their chances to conceive or simply enhance their well-being.


Viviane De Beaufort remained on stage to participate in the last conference for the day, on Leadership and Ambition, with Pascale Auger, CEO of Mauboussin and Helene Combe-Guillemet, Head of Global Investment Banking at Credit Agricole CIB.  

The conference opened with a “reverse” presentation, Pascale Auger recalling Helene Combe-Guillemet key stepping stones in her career, from her education at HEC to her first years in audit before focusing on her career in banking, all the way up to Global Investment Banking. As a conclusion to her portrait, Helene Combe-Guillemet added:  “At any time of your career, you will have the opportunity and possibility to make a choice”, underlining the importance of networks (in particular school networks) and a solid organisation in the personal life (she is a mother of three), and an activity to release pressure (in her case, swimming)

Her message was clear: “Dare to ask, seize the opportunity!”.  

Both Pascale Auger and Helene Combe-Guillemet agreed in the need to define priorities, and be open to change, as balance is not a static achievement, but more of a flow.   

The question of power and leadership was raised, stepping away from a masculine vision (“mark the territory”) to adopt the idea of a collective co-creation, engaging teams and individuals, around a clear vision, as “leadership without a purpose is meaningless”, added Pascale Auger, who mentioned the rising question of the “Raison d’Etre” of work and corporations.  

Helene Combe-Guillemet shared some of her driving forces throughout her career: “working in good conditions, for what I like, and who I like, the ability to transmit my knowledge, accompany people and money, also”.  

Pascale Auger used her personal career path, from being an engineer in the Industry to meeting the President of Mauboussin, to whom she shared her interest for a position in the Board, and who offered her instead a CEO role…, which she accepted spontaneously! When insisting on her background in science, she was told “that’s what we are looking for!”. 

For Pascale Auger, this experience was a clear sign that growth is not linear, networking must be a part of your work, and following your aspirations is a definite key to personal success. 

Both Pascale Auger and Helene Combe-Guillemet conclude on the current transformation of work, corporations and societies at large, underlining the necessity to be flexible and open to change, on both sides (individuals and corporations). 

Pascale Auger closed the talk with two quotes inspired from horseback riding (her hobby): “Pick a horse that chooses you as he will have the curiosity to learn” and, referring to leadership: “in front of an obstacle, the horse will jump if he can see your heart over the fence”. Have faith and confidence! 


The 2018 annual Congress programme concluded with the last pitch, from Sophie Muffang, author of the book “Femmes, osons pour réussir!”, perfectly in line with the previous talk, a vibrant call to action and ambition. 


Olivier Mousson, President of the SEIN (Société D’Encouragement pour l’Industrie Nationale) and host of the Congress at the Hotel de l’Industrie, took the opportunity of the gathering of 120+ high profiled professionals to call for applicants to join the Board of Directors.  

Corinne Hirsch, VP Think Tank, announced the release of a long-awaited study called Women and Ambition, revealing the date of September 20th, and a first teaser: “90% of women consider themselves ambitious”. 

PWN Paris Co-President Cécile Bernheim closed the day with words reminiscent of the 2018 Congress themes: “Define your #Balance, manage your #WellBeing, find your strategy for #Leadership and embrace digital and #Innovation, PWN Paris will be with you along the way to support you!”, strong motivational words that were acclaimed with a warm round of applause. See you in 2019! 


PWN 2018 Congress would like to thank the speakers and workshops organizers, and PWN Global Presidents Sonya Richardson & Rob Baker, Rina Goldenberg Lynch and Philinna Toiny (PWN London), Simona Rusu-Beschia (PWN Vienna) and Virginia Otel (PWN Bucharest) for their attendance and generosity.  

PWN 2018 Congress was proudly supported by the SEIN and the Hotel de l’Industrie, CCD Laboratoire, Fondation Pierre Deniker, Printemps, EviDens de Beauté, Sam Pepper, Champagne Virginie T, Château des Arras. 

Image conception and production by Outdoorz Gallery and Atelier Images & Cie. 

Photography by Virginie Bonnefon  

PWN Paris VP of Events Corinne Albert and Corinne Bérenguer would like to thank  the fantastic team of volunteers who organized the PWN Paris 2018 Congress,  Virginie Améaume, Béatrice Lissague, Cécile Boyeka, Deborah Summers, Françoise Pelissier, Adeline Bonnet, Deborha Goyi, Carole Cabrit and Karine Tarsitano.  

Photos Congress 2018 

Program Congress 2018 PWN Paris

Speaker Workshops Pitchs Animation Arts Congress 2018 PWN Paris



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