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The Opinion: Isabelle Mashola "I felt like I wasn'y learning anymore"

August 17, 2020

Release date: August 12, 2020, on Opinion

" Prendre its risque ". This is one of Emmanuel Macron's favourite expressions. And you, when did you get your risque ? This summer, for l'Opinion, 30 personalities will be revealed...

The day I took my risk was the day I decided to give up my status as an employee of a large company to become a founder of a start-up. I had been in information technology (IT) for more than twenty years (at Cisco, Dell, Publicis...), and now I was Director of Information Systems (DSI) for Europe. I could become World CIO. But I had the impression that I couldn't learn anymore. I like to get out of my comfort zone. I said to myself " il must change ".

I have seen three pistes : taking over a CIO position in another company, doing freelance consulting, or setting up a new company. start-up in tech for women with my friend Philippe Coup-Jambet.

After turning down two ISD positions in other groups, better paid and with more responsibilities than the previous one, I told myself that ISD was over for me. So I did some consulting. But as a freelancer, you're a bit detached, and you have to sell yourself to find missions : it wasn't for me. I remember a meeting where one of the directors was very unpleasant with an employee and I saw that she was suffering, from this violence that sometimes exists in large groups. I told myself that I wanted another world.

I had started to build Isahit's project in my head and on papier : a platform to outsource digital tasks to women in emerging countries. The first risk is financier : you earn three to four times less and it can be stopped in one fell swoop.

At the head of its structure, you drive the boat, and when you make a choice, there is a direct impact on the company and all its employees.

Loneliness. The other risk is that you start from a blank page. In a large group, even if one is creative, there are existing bases. I would go to HR for pay slips, to purchasing for a client contract, to my CFO for figures... I was much more assisted. The higher you are on top of the tower, the more important the " savoir être " is than the " savoir faire ". Then you go back down the ladder and say " est-what am I going to know faire ? " We have an idea but we have to execute it. It's scary, there's a certain loneliness.

But what is positive and rewarding is that we can finally take real risks. In a large group, even when you are at the head of a department of 450 people with freedom within budget constraints and objectives, you always have someone above you. I'm very loyal, so if the group said to do it that way, even if I don't think it's the best solution, I'll do it. At the head of its structure, you drive the boat, and when you make a choice, there is a direct impact on the company and all its employees. It's another form of adrenaline.

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