This month, we are initiating a series of interviews with Girls In Tech Switzerland partners called Spotlight. We’re starting with L’Occitane Group, who joined us a few months ago in our mission to eliminate the gender gap in tech.
What is your current job at L’Occitane and what brought you in the tech world?
Chantal Ngu: I am in charge of overseeing project management activities for global strategic initiatives in the international IT department of L’Occitane Group. I also act as a program manager myself in charge of planning and coordinating cross-functional IT projects to ensure that they are delivered according to time, quality and scope expectations.
I was lucky enough to travel in a few countries during my studies & early work experience. It made me realized that I needed a job in a fast moving industry where I could take part in small & larger projects, nationally & internationally and in a variety of business contexts. This is why I joined the tech world.
Since then, it brought me to work for public services, aeronautics, FMCG companies, and now the cosmetics industry … all are different businesses but have a common need for IT program management, which in the end suits me perfectly.
Yanbing Li: I am a data scientist in the L’Occitane Revenue Growth Management (RGM) team. In the RGM team, we have different types of expertise but a common objective: perform analysis to maximize the money that was invested and make sure we are taking the right decisions for our markets. I am developing models to predict future customer behaviors and optimize marketing investments for example.
I always liked solving problems and I have studied computer science in China and in Paris. I discovered data when I joined PSA for an internship and enriched my experience with data during my job at BNP Paribas.
Aurore Chichery: I am a Product Owner for the L’Occitane IT retail team. On a daily basis, I plan and prioritize all the projects related to our point of sale solution used in our stores worldwide (more than 1500). I am the interface between the business teams and the IT developers of the team, and I consider myself at the service of our beauty advisors in all the stores!
I jumped into IT decades ago after tourism studies and ten years of working experience in the luxury hospitality industry. I have been recruited for my business knowledge by the main actor of a hospitality software company. My mission was to setup and to rollout applications for the main departments of the luxury brands hotels such as Radisson, Intercontinental, Marriott, Barrière groups, but also train and assist key users (booking department, housekeepers, receptionists…). I moved to the retail industry after a while, still as a consultant, and had the chance to join L’Occitane a few years ago.
To work in tech, you need an analytical and logical mind.
What are the top skills required for anyone who wants to work in tech?
Aurore Chichery: In my case, curiosity and observation have been always powerfull skills to understand and challenge better the business needs in order to deliver a valuable solution. In addition to this, a logical mindset and a good ability to analyze are also essential to work in tech.
Chantal Ngu: A strong ability to adapt to an ever changing environment and I mean changes in technology, ways of working, consumer trends, and many more. A deep will to learn as the tech world is moving fast and requires to keep up the speed. Be a team player! A project involves team members from different fields, different technologies, different locations. It is not that true that working in the tech world involves to only speak to machines !
Yanbing Li: An analytical and logical mind, a love for numbers and precision. Communication is key as well: to help the business and support decision processes, we need to make the information clear and understandable.
Developing soft skills will also give you a strong advantage. It is not only about tech skills!
What advice would you give to young professionals starting in tech?
Chantal Ngu: Be prepared to blossom in an industry where routine does not exist. Go beyond stereotypes, working in tech is not only coding. It includes a wide range of jobs: software development, quality assurance activities, business analysis, project management in tech domains such as e-commerce, digital marketing, CRM, analytics, artificial intelligence and so many others that for sure you will find a combination that suits you.
Be mobile, the tech industry offers opportunities all around the world on short or long term missions. And do not be afraid to go off the beaten tracks and step outside your geographical comfort zone.
Yanbing Li: Be curious, be aware of the trends and watch-out what others are doing. Also keep in mind that you will learn a lot on the job, by practicing. Theory is good but you learn so much on the job that reconversion in tech job is completely accessible.
Aurore Chichery: Keep always an open mind and learn from other people. Developing soft skills will also give you a strong advantage. It is not only about tech skills!
Diversity at L’Occitane is not taken for granted. Awareness is raised in the entire company on gender diversity through communities, workshops, partnership with schools among other initiatives.
How does L’Occitane supports diversity in tech?
Aurore Chichery: There are 3 initiatives that caught my attention in the past 2 years at L’Occitane. The first one is to publish job offers written in an inclusive way. The second one is our internal Accelerate IT Program: anyone in the IT department can apply to follow IT courses (coding & project management skills). The motivation is the main prerequisite. The last one is the internal working group named «Women In Tech & Allies» to raise awareness about the female perspective in tech in terms of conferences, reading and workshops.
Yanbing Li: We are having discussions on D&I at L’Occitane and concrete actions are put in place. For example, a new parental policy has been put in place 2 years ago: the new policy gives primary caregivers a minimum of 20 weeks of fully paid leave and secondary caregivers a minimum of 12 weeks fully paid leave to bond with their new born. Also, a Global Diversity & Inclusion manager, Aurélie Uricher, has been appointed last year.
We are conscious about where we stand and we know where we want to go. Everyone can contribute.
Chantal Ngu: Firstly by claiming it and secondly by acting for it. Diversity at L’Occitane is not taken for granted. For instance, awareness is raised in the entire company on gender diversity through communities, workshops, partnership with schools among other initiatives.
Beyond awareness comes actions like the recruitment process thought to attract both male and female candidates, a year-long training program opened to the IT department worldwide that gathers male & female colleagues from all backgrounds.
We would like to thank Chantal Ngu, Yanbing Li and Aurore Chichery for their time in sharing their story and for being a role model for young girls 💛
Author: Noémie Aung