Interviewed by Linda Zenagui
Meet our WTP6 Talent Carole Stiegler, Sales Director at Orange. We talked about how to become a successful leader in high demanding positions while still being able to take time off for the family, and why developing trusting relationships is so important for career success.
In 2019, you were promoted to the position of Large Account Sales Manager at Orange Business Services (OBS), the branch of Orange, the biggest French operator. Could you tell us about some of your biggest milestones during your time there?
When I joined OBS in 2019, I worked with my teams to undertake two main tasks. First, we modernised the core business to maintain our clients’ loyalty. This involved developing key strategic activities for Orange such as those around data, cloud computing or cyber defence and having our teams of key account managers implement innovative strategies focused on our pool of large accounts customers. We now systematically put in place strategic committees to facilitate high-level discussions with our clients.
Second, I redefined the teams’ scopes to enhance their motivation.
Stepping into a role as a team leader is both challenging and exciting. What have you done to strengthen your leadership competencies and ability to handle demanding jobs?
When I took my position, I wanted to inspire my teams by switching from being just a manager to being a leader. I try to give as much autonomy to them as possible whilst supporting them to achieve their goals. I act as a coach for them and I always make sure their efforts are rewarded.
When I took my position, I wanted
to inspire my teams by switching
from being just a manager to being a leader.
In 2020, when COVID-19 hit, OBS had to meet the most urgent needs for digital services. With hospitals in search of better connectivity and people switching to teleworking, OBS teams had all hands on deck. How did you manage to keep your colleagues motivated and energised during such intense times?
With the arrival of Covid, we faced a unique situation overnight: all of our clients needed better connectivity. At the very beginning of the first lockdown, I had to implement new strategies for keeping in touch with my teams, one of which was introducing daily calls with them.
These daily calls had several benefits. First of all, it allowed me to gain a better understanding of the challenges my teams were facing. Daily calls were also useful to brainstorm and come up with creative ideas to overcome these challenges. Finally, since we were all working from home, we used this time to reconnect with each other and ensure that we still feel close. During the particularly intense times, I had to manage the stress within the teams. I needed to be calm, peaceful and collected to handle the situation properly.
More than a year and a half after the first lockdown, we are still reinventing the way we work. We obviously can not go back to the old system. Where I work, people have embraced a “hybrid work model” where half of the team work from home and the other half is in the office.
We were lucky to have support from the company to provide employees with specific training on the new ways of working and the management of stressful situations.
Managing teams can be stressful, especially when remote work is a “new normal” and every day might feel like an endless marathon. How do you maintain a healthy work-life balance and manage to reconnect with joyful things in life?
I have two sons and I do not want to have to choose between my work and my family. Finding the right balance is indeed one of the main challenges I face; however, I have implemented a few golden rules.
While I am at work, I stay 100% focused on my job and my teams. However, I disconnect from work during the weekend. I know it can be tempting to check your emails during your time off but it is not a healthy option in the long term. I also enjoy listening to music with my sons and completely unplugging from work when I am spending quality time with them.
I am lucky to be working in a company where I have the autonomy to manage my workload. There is trust with my managers. I have goals to achieve but I can manage my time flexibly. As such, I believe I have found the right balance now.
I have two sons and I do not want to
have to choose between my work and my family.
Finding the right balance is indeed
one of the main challenges I face; however,
I have implemented a few golden rules.
You are the participant in the 6th edition of WIL’s Women Talent Pool leadership programme. What led you to join the programme and what do you think are the main challenges and opportunities for the next generation of women leaders?
I am delighted to be a part of the WTP6 programme as it allowed me to meet very inspiring women and learn new things.
For instance, we recently had a Career Development session where I learned precious time and career management techniques. Even though all participants have high-responsibility positions, we all walked away from the event with ideas on how to manage better our work-life balance. Through the programme I also had the chance to take part in workshops, which have been inspiring to get a helicopter view of my skills and learn how to develop them.
As for the future challenges women will face, I do not believe there will be fundamental differences. Women will still need to demonstrate great abilities and knowledge to handle high-responsibility jobs.
If you could share just one important professional or life lesson that you have learnt over the years, what would it be?
Building trustful relationships with stakeholders is a long process, but an important one. If I could share one life lesson I have learned over the years, it would be to stay committed, be brave and be honest in building long-term, trusting professional relationships. My advice is to always say the truth, as people appreciate honesty in others. Finally, never stop building your network. I, myself, still have strong ties with former colleagues and clients, and this has been important for me.
If I could share one life lesson I have learned over the years,
it would be to stay committed, be brave and be honest
in building long-term, trusting professional relationships.
We like to close our interviews with a more fun question: What will be your first holiday destination once all travel restrictions are lifted?
I would definitely go to Italy. I love this country, it is “dolce vita” with the rich culture and exquisite food. I am sensitive to environmental issues, therefore, I would go to Italy by train. Genoa and Turin are the two cities I would like to visit as soon as possible.