Sally Lanar & Anne Barry at the first WPNG meeting of the year in Sept 2015
Sally Lanar, WPNG member since November 2014, will be interviewing WPNG members once every two months and writing their professional portraits. We hope that you enjoy reading about your fellow members and connecting with them! If you’re interested in having your portrait done, please contact Sally at firstname.lastname@example.org or on LinkedIn at https://fr.linkedin.com/in/
Anne Barry Portrait – interview May, 2015
Anne Barry has been an international woman since the beginning: she was born in Canada to French parents before growing up in Dijon. During her university studies in Lille, she interned for six months in 2000 in Israel where she met her South African husband, who was also working there at the time. After going back-and-forth between France and South Africa, where Anne did an internship, the pair settled in Lille in 2001, where they started a family. In summer 2014, they moved together to Lyon after her husband was transferred to a new company office. Anne left her high-power position as a global brand manager in an agro-business company to follow her husband to Lyon and to reconnect with her family spread across the Rhône-Alpes and Burgundy regions. WPNG has been an integral part in her transition to Lyon life this past year.
Sally: What do you enjoy most in your professional life?
Anne: What I enjoy most when I work is working in a team. Team spirit is very important to me because I’m very keen about dynamics between people and how you can do great stuff.
S: Can you tell us about a great team you were part of?
A: I was part of a highly performing team a few years ago. It was in a global company. We were the European-Middle East-Africa marketing team and we cared a lot about each other, doing a marketing coffee time once a week where each of us had to come with a cup of coffee or tea and we shared what we had learned the previous week and what successes we had had and how we achieved them. And what roadblocks we had found. And we worked together to find solutions for overcoming those roadblocks.
S: So you must have really enjoyed Myriam Lacey’s presentation in March 2015 at WPNG about teamwork and high-performing teams?
A: It put words on the situation I used to live with this team. She said those types of teams were meeting regularly [outside of the workplace]. And two weeks ago we [my team] had a meeting, a marketing coffee weekend, at my parents’ house and we visited the wines of Burgundy. Five of us, plus husbands and kids. So it really proves once a year we’re going to meet and we already have the date for 2016! And people in the company used to call us the dream team, because we worked really hard and played really hard, too.
S: How did you find out about WPNG?
A: I found out about WPNG before coming to Lyon. Because when it became very concrete that I was going to leave Lille, that I was going to leave my global role and end up in a place where I knew nobody professionally, and that I would only have my husband as an international environment, I went on Google and I just checked “Women, International network,” some stuff like that, in Lyon. I wanted a women’s group since I thought it would be easier for me to get involved and “international” because that it [the international aspect] is very important for me. For me, the first hit was WPNG. I couldn’t come to the September meeting because I was away for my previous job, but I don’t think I’ve missed a single meeting since!
S: What do you like about WPNG?
A: What I’m really thankful for is that WPNG helped me to build my own “Anne Story” in Lyon. Because my husband got a job, so he’s been the one building a new life in Lyon, having new colleagues, a new place to eat lunch, new everything. My kids were going to school in Lyon so they had a new teacher, new friends, you know, and were building their life. Initially, I kept working at my past job for six months, I kind of stayed in my old life. And WPNG made me create something in Lyon for me. Not as a family, but as an individual. So I’ve met great people that I’ve enjoyed spending time with, even outside of the WPNG monthly networking meeting, so I’ve had great experiences with some of the women from the group.
S: What’s your experience of working as a professional woman in many countries?
A: For me there isn’t much of a difference between male and female, working in France or working elsewhere, we all have our own culture. When I used to work in a global company [based in Lille, France], what made it great and what also made it very difficult was that we all had our own culture, we all had different ways of working, from one culture to another, even if it was in the same company. I feel that French companies tend to focus on what the problem is or who caused the problem, rather than how we can find a solution to the problem, which is something more common among Anglo-Saxon companies. This way of thinking is something that grew on me while I was working for a very Anglo-Saxon company when I was in Lille.
S: Are there any advantages to being an international woman in a French context?
A: Absolutely. I work in a franco-japanese company now but I work more in the French side of it. Every international person I talk to is like, “Oh my god, you speak English so well!” I’m not a perfect English speaker, but you kind of realize that they don’t have many French people who can lead a discussion or a presentation in English very easily or very smoothly. By being French, but with an international/English mindset because of my years with my husband and my past job, I feel exotic somehow and I feel I can bring a different perspective, and that’s good.
In September 2015, Anne will start a new position as the WPNG committees’ coordinator. Come meet her at any WPNG meeting or connect with her on LinkedIn.https://fr.linkedin.com/in/barryanne/fr