What is your name, age, and location?
Marion Chapsal, 47 years old, living in France.
What is your profession?
I work as an independent facilitator, trainer and coach for executives and teams, focusing on leadership, communication and team building. I have been teaching Organizational Behavior, Presentation Skills and Leadership for International MBA programmes and executives at EM Lyon during seventeen years. Three years ago, I created my own consulting company: Geronimo Leadership Coaching, where I enjoy designing innovative leadership trainings especially for international women leaders. After all these years, it’s still a tough question to answer and the word which would best describe my job is facilitator.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I studied International Business at SKEMA Business School. Just after graduation, I applied for the French Conservatoire d’Art Dramatique and delighted in the study of theater. At 22, I started a family and experienced some major changes in my life which made me stop to reflect on my personal and professional projects. I questioned my identity as a woman, what was expected from me, as a daughter, as a mother, a sister, a student, a teacher, a professional woman, a spouse. Very soon after, in my twenties, I studied Jungian psychology, neuro-linguistics, transactional analysis, sculpture and story-telling in therapy… I even spent 9 months in Connecticut, studying rebirthing… I am trained as a certified executive coach and actively belong to the ICF (International Coaching Federation). Never really stopped studying and learning, that’s one of my passions!
What was your first job?
I was 18 and offered a job as a sales representative for Polaroid! I had to stop and take pictures of people, on Saturday afternoons, in Big Shopping Centers. Realized I had to approach each client completely differently and make sure I was accepted in the other person’s space bubble… I also learned that you could get paid doing something funny! I was 18 and had been refused the right to work before, because it was not acceptable in our traditional catholic, « bourgeois » family. Since that time, I always promised myself I would encourage my children to learn the value of work while teenager. They all have started earning money around 15.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
Being a woman and giving birth, nurturing, nursing and guiding my children has been the most precious gift for my growing as a coach and trainer.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
I remember having been totally shocked when I was told that the male consultants and teachers at business school were paid on average 10 to 20 % higher than female consultants, for exactly the same mission. When I investigated why, I was told it was only because they asked for more. And I never dared to ask at that time!
Who is your role model or mentor (alive or dead)?
When I think of role models, I think of exemplary lives of women like Simone Veil, a resistant, an advocate for women’s rights, a humanist, a wife and head of a big tribe too. Aligned with her brain, heart and soul.
Closer, women in the learning and training fields like Anne Perschell, Marcia Reynolds, Jeanne Meister and Avivah Cox.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Recently, I found myself in the difficult situation of giving a piece of advice to my own daughter. She’s 25 and has always been very mature and independent. Still, she’s at a crossroads and seeking for help. What I told her might be surprising, but here it is: “Ask for help, open your heart to others, listen to their advices, but in the end, never forget to trust your own gut! Be your own best friend!” Apply to yourself first the principles you teach to others in coaching: Walk Your Talk!
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– Interview by Elena Rossini