The questionnaire answered by the Women of Tech is a variant of the Proust questionnaire, named not because Marcel Proust got lost in the Paris metro, but in memory of Emilie du Chatelet, a woman of letters, mathematician and physicist, renowned for her translation of Newton's Principia Mathematica and the dissemination of Leibniz's physics work. She was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Bologna Institute. Emilie du Chatelet led a free and fulfilled life during the era of the Enlightenment and published a speech on happiness.
Why a career in tech?
I chose a career in Tech because this topic enabled me to reconcile enhancing attractivity and dynamism in the companies I mentor and coach, with my search for giving a meaning and providing a social impact in what I undertake. Innovation is transforming every economic sector. It also is a way to help create a better world and answer some big challenges the planet is facing. My job enables me to feel good professionally as well as intellectually, and personally.
Your professional experience?
I obtained the diploma from Ecole Centrale Paris (a Grande Ecole in engineering). After my studies, I started working in an industrial firm, and then in investment banking. Thereafter, I joined the Fonds Stratégique d’Investissement, a state-owned investment fund, at its inception. This enabled me to combine an experience in private equity with a mission for the common good. Some years later, I participated in the creation of an evergreen growth capital fund within the Public Bank of Investment. I then joined my present partner to create my own company and raise Educapital, the first European investment Fund specialised in the future of education and of employment (edtech). I am the mother of two boys, 4 and 7 years old.
Your first experience with technology?
I am an investor, and I started focusing on digital and technology in 2012. We had decided to dedicate specific resources to this sector in the Fonds Stratégique d’Investissement while traditionally, the teams were focusing on non-tech industries. Rapidly, through the investments I led (Withings, Sigfox, for instance, I met exciting entrepreneurs in that sector.
What do you do today, and why?
Since 2016, I have decided to start an entrepreneurial journey. I manage an Investment company which I cofounded with my partner Marie-Christine Levet. Together we raised Educapital, our first Fund, whose mission is to bring out European Edtech champions (technology for education). I am passionate about my job which permits me to study and finance the topics of the world to come; to be hands with visionary entrepreneurs who, all over the world, are building a more accessible, more efficient and more inclusive education, thanks to innovation. Educapital has enabled me to build my own ambitious and meaningful project.
Your strengths in this role?
I am hardworking, resilient and persevering. Hence, we were able to bring out this first fund and to raise €47M dedicated to a topic still new in 2017. I am quick and I am a doer. I love being active and making things happen. This later strength has enabled us to build the foundations of our company (our team, our brand, our network, our portfolio) within a period of 3 years. Lastly, I am happy when interacting with others and am open to them.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
Raising money for Educapital was not an easy ride. It took time to convince investors. Many times we were turned away. We piled up disappointments. During these 15 months, I became pregnant … and fund raising meetings were difficult during that period.
Best moments, successes you’re proud of?
Closing this Fund was my best professional moment. It happened after many months of ups and downs. This was a moment of great satisfaction. We celebrated it with dignity at the occasion of a nice event gathering all people playing a role in this sector, including the Minister for Education and the Undersecretary for Digital. We were very proud! Since then, my job regularly offers me many exciting moments: it can be when I close a deal, when I facilitate new developments in investee companies, or more simply when I meet new faces.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
All along my career, I grew alongside mentors or inspirators, people who supported me. Jacques Pochon was the first. He was my first manager in investment banking. He rapidly recruited me, helped me, trusted me. Jacques Pochon left us in 2009. Then Agnès Pannier who recruited me at Le Fonds Stratégique d’Investissement. A lady with a strong character, who does not mince her words, but knows how to grow people and make the most of their work. There after Mailys Ferrère who trusted me. Together we created the Large Venture Fund at BPI (Banque Publique d’Investissement). At BPI, I was and will remain impressed by Nicolas Dufourcq’s smartness and tremendous working capacity. At last, Marie-Christine Levet, my present partner, is the person with whom professionally I achieved most.
Your hopes and future challenges?
We still are at the beginning of Educapital. We have built our project foundations. Now, we must accelerate and scale up: enlarge our team; improve our processes, make them more professional; and raise new investment vehicles. My project is to build further on Educapital, to create a platform dedicated to responsible investment in human capital.
What do you do when you don’t work?
I am married, the mother of two children. For me it is quite normal to spend time with my children, either to arouse them, to transmit, or myself to become a child again! I like to spend time with my family and with my friends too. I am very fond of traveling, hoping that it will rapidly become possible. In my daily life, I practice sport, I read comics, I listen to music and I dance.
Your heroes -from History or fiction?
I choose Elastigirl, in the Indestructibles (Unwreckables). A supermother, superheroine, a vigilante. I have loved this figure.
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
Help you, Heaven will help.
A book to take with you on a desert island?
I am an extensive reader of comics, even more during the lockdown. I like the ritual of discovering new ones, to escape and to stimulate my imagination in penetrating in ever different worlds. However, they are not adapted to a deserted island. As a novel, I would choose “Belle du Seigneur” by Albert Cohen.
A message to young female professionals?
Everything is possible and accessible. Let us master our future, without shame, nor guilt, nor regret. Let us be aware of our strengths and of our qualities, and dare acting without fearing sham! Being a female is not a reason for facing closed doors. On the contrary, never have doors be more open.