Build Up your resources”

It was early on in my career in Finance when I learned how the market could move quickly and unexpectedly and how an alert, adaptable, problem solving team could effectively help an organisation ride the storm.

I was financing commercial aviation in 2001 when the twin towers collapsed. The next day, all insurers cancelled their war risk policies which implied that airplanes worldwide were to be grounded. In the following weeks, many large reputable airlines went down. A few months later, the bank I was working for, or sometimes the ad-hoc companies I was a director of, became the active owners of around a hundred airplanes spread out around the world, with an obligation for maintenance, negotiations with  administrators, liquidators and other vested parties, and a need to remarket them in a broken market. I learned the value of a team to support each other, and dramatically improved my negotiation skills as communication was what was left to us where  contracts hadn’t provisioned for the unpredictable. I experienced how opportunities could arise even from hopeless situations: we developed a new airplane management team and  started to trade.

With twenty years in the Finance industry, I’ve been through the cycles. I’ve experienced various corporate cultures, layered internal political plays, multi-matricial reporting, prompt restructuring, and sudden market event shifts, while mostly working with limited resources under stretch deadlines in highly competitive environments.

With twenty years in the Finance industry, I’ve been through the cycles. I’ve experienced various corporate cultures, layered internal political plays, multi-matricial reporting, prompt restructuring, and sudden market event shifts, while mostly working with limited resources under stretch deadlines in highly competitive environments.

Build Up your resources”

When Leaders don’t Lead  

On this journey, the biggest lessons I learned are the ones that I carry with me into my work today, especially as a coach. Over 10 years ago, I wished my un-empathetic boss had attended a diversity and inclusion training. At the time, I had a toddler plus a newborn to care for, a nanny to hand over the kids to before I could leave the house, a double connection London commute to work, and an 8am meeting every single morning that my manager insisted the entire team be present to, in the flesh. I was overly challenged before I even started my day at work. Most other teams didn’t function this way but I was stuck with a lousy manager who had poor listening and empathy skills and was unable to create a more inclusive environment. I met the odds: I left.

The role of managers is pivotal as their wrong-doing leads to disengaged employees, unserviced customers and unrewarded investors. Most managers have not been trained for the position. Often they’ve been promoted because of their performance and expertise. But to manage and lead requires a different skill set. Leadership skills are not just an inner talent, the toolkit can be learned.

As a business person and as a coach, I help companies turn around this situation by supporting managers in developing leadership skills such as empathy, active listening, ability to connect and create trust. Leaders can learn to communicate efficiently, appreciate and value the team, develop discernment in the management of conflicts, and act as coaches rather than commanders.

Change or Reinvent the Wheel

There is so much talk today about thriving through change that we may almost think that’s an easy common practice. It’s not. Here are the usual top 5 derailers I experience with my clients, business partners, friends, and myself:

✔︎ We lack focus: emails, phone pinging, friendly requests for support, multitasking, all things that press on us and insist on action, so we forget our priorities. Lack of focus is the Number #1 challenge in this 21st century frenziness.

✔︎ We lack grit: there is always a gap between an action or the stimuli (e.g. “I exercise”) and its result (e.g. “my body shape changes”). In this gap, we tend to stop working towards the positive change we initiated before we even see the results of our efforts.

✔︎ We endure for too long: we wait and initiate change only when facing the wall with no further alternative.

✔︎ We’re too radical: When we’re finally ready for change, we want to change everything right away. What happens next is often a succession of failures (because willpower is a finite resource to be used progressively) that makes us feel ashamed and worthless.

✔︎ We’re short sighted: we initiate new habits but we don’t consider the root cause of the initial behaviour. It’s like sweeping the dust on the floor without closing the door. It keeps coming back until the root cause has been addressed; close the door first.

On the journey, not all solutions come easy, and they often have to come from the personal to be translated to the professional.

My Big Lesson about Diversity  

For example, it took me a whole lot of growing up, travelling across countries, and working in very diverse teams to show me what a diverse group truly had to offer.

When I arrived in London, my first direct line manager was Iranian. The next one was Pakistani based in Dubai. My team was a mixed bag of people coming from 15+ countries: South Africa, Nigeria, US, Switzerland, Jordan, Lebanon, India, Colombian, Italy, Palestine…

I reckon one of my first meetings with one of the team’s heads. He was wearing a Paul Smith’s like suit, Italian shoes and a turban on his head. He was a Sikh in fashion. My world had just opened up.

And while the world looked bright and colourful, it gave me an opportunity to look within as well.

I am the daughter of two ambitious parents. Following his family tradition, my father was a politician. My mother worked with the government. I grew up around political meetings, activism,  street hopping, putting up electoral posters and counting voting ballots deep into the nights. I was brought up in a house that took an active role in shaping and responding to the society around it. Yet, our mode of belonging to society was to erase our own uniqueness. My mother’s mother was Polish and her father, Italian. But living in France, we only spoke French and I learned early on from my maternal grandmother that it’s best to keep a low profile and not stand out as different. And here I am now, learning Italian, a part of my roots that I wasn’t introduced to.

Everything is personal

Ultimately, everything is personal: our emotions and desires run the show whether we’re conscious of it or not.

As a kid I dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot. I had to renounce it because of my eyesight, but later settled to apply for summer flight attendant positions. It turned out that my English skills were not good enough at the time. But my love of being in the air remained. So, I trained in gliding. And a few years later, there I was, working in aviation finance through the bank. The dots connect in hindsight as Steve Jobs’ made immortal in his famous words: 

“You have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down and it has made all the difference in my life.” 

While I continue to connect my own dots, I help others do the same. I question people’s map of the world, even their vision of themselves, to identify where these don’t fit their greater purpose. Then I help them reframe.

Questioning is in my inner code and coaching brings accountability. I provide  resources and practical tools to my clients, and a supportive community around both self-development and professional development, all pivotal to navigate the field while enjoying it.

Learning Leadership as a Tool for Life

I know performance and wellbeing go hand in hand. Most of us keep performing well when we don’t feel good. We even often think that high stress is what we need to keep us on our toes. But we won’t be able to go the extra mile when under stress and anxiety. This is an important point.  With practice, we have acquired skills that help us get things done while ignoring something is off. But here is the truth: with the stick, you’ll never feel as good as you would, if you received a carrot instead. When beaten by the stick, you’re in resistance mode. You won’t find the extra energy or creativity to make things work best.

On the other hand, when the dreadful cycle of exhaustion-disengagement-pessimism is reversed for a positive one of energy + engagement + optimism, the entire experience of working and living well changes. As a coach, I help my clients and business partners get there, stay there, and contribute to a better workspace for all.

Education & Certifications

✔︎ Master of Finance | Université Paris Sud

✔︎ C-Suite Graduate | European Women On Boards

✔︎ Professional Member of the British Association for NLP

✔︎ Mental Fitness Coach | Positive Intelligence | In progress

✔︎ Integrative Health Coach | The Institute for Integrative Nutrition

Links to Work & Articles



Contact me

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