Cécile Petit has an unconventional background. Her artistic studies (in visual arts and multimedia creation at the University of Aix-Marseille, with a specialization in artistic practices related to digital technology) gave her the opportunity to do an internship at the Centre International d'art contemporain de Montréal. After meeting the man who would become her husband, she began the process of immigration and reoriented herself in the retail business in Montreal. "I had just come for a year. In the end, it was slightly longer," she says with a laugh.
Cécile worked her way up through the company, holding management and executive positions for about 15 years. As a customer (power-user), she saw her first ERP implementation project, carried out by Createch, and her first experience in the field of professional technologies. At the end of her second maternity leave, she wondered a lot about the next step in her career - "it was the right time to question myself", she says. With this different background, Cécile joined Createch as a functional consultant.
"What could have been a weakness was an important differentiator and a strength."
Unlike her "colleagues", who were mainly men, engineers or computer science graduates, she "arrived without this technical background but with a strong operational experience on the client side". The new recruit had to "roll up her sleeves and start from scratch, very humbly": she spent "days and evenings" self-training on the solution in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and technical skills and learn to master the tool.
Above all, she was able to transform "what could have been a weakness" into "an important differentiator and a strength", which she continues to cultivate even after 4 years of experience and with a now important technical background. "Having been there myself, I was able to translate what they were feeling into something immediately effective and relevant," she explains. "This allowed me to have a customer-centric approach. The implementation of an ERP is a fundamental project, a deep transformation process that can be painful and requires change management," emphasizes Cécile, who "always makes sure to bring the team with whom [she] works back to the reality of a sales floor. She adds: "What stimulates me the most is working with the company's players, reassuring them and giving them the support they need. The human element is essential in our business."
"The success of a project is about 80% communication and 20% technical."
Very comfortable in communication, Cécile moved to project management more than a year ago, which she considers "naturally much closer to [her] experience and personality". She works in a caring and respectful way and strives to adopt a positive and constructive communication on a daily basis.
"It's important to know how to fit in as a woman"
"I was not determined by my degrees but by my skills and my ability to put them forward, as well as my ability to learn, to challenge myself and to work hard to achieve my personal and professional goals," she says. In the technology sector, Cécile considers that it is "important to know how to fit in as a woman". She had to work on her own cognitive biases. "Because of my background, it was obvious that I was going to experience imposter syndrome at some point," says Cécile, who took a management training course dedicated to women, offered by "L'effet A", on Createch's recommendation. This program, led by women leaders, which aims to propel female ambition, has changed her mindset: "It was very interesting for me to discuss topics that affect women in particular, such as the imposter syndrome, and to attend workshops to become aware of certain biases that hold us back, to develop certain strengths and to build our career on skills that we must learn to recognize in ourselves."
In Canada, a country that is quite advanced on gender equality issues, Createch encourages women to develop themselves - to reach management positions, as well as their professional goals -, works "more than actively" on salary parity and is involved in a process of valuing women through dedicated coaching programs. Cécile particularly appreciates working for this company, which is very open-minded and works to advance the company. All these initiatives shine through to all women
"Most of the company's leaders, but also my role models and senior managers are women," she continues. Among the women who inspire her on a daily basis is her business unit manager, "a very transparent and inclusive leader, who invites the participation of her employees," whose leadership she particularly appreciates and in whom she sees herself a lot. But also Hélène Kyriakakis, the president of Createch with whom she participated in the A Effect - "an inspiration for the women around her, because of her background and the dynamism she instills in her leadership and the management of her company".
While the majority of functional consultants and developers on her team are men, she notes that there are more and more women in technical areas like development, a number of whom are culturally diverse. "Because of the labour shortage in the highly specialized technology sector, we are recruiting internationally," says Cécile, who herself has benefited from Canada's expansive immigration policy. "The enormous cultural diversity, especially in Montreal, contributes to the richness of today's society," she adds.
"Everything is possible when you work together."
Cécile now manages larger projects that require a lot of coordination: "It is the collaboration of both teams, internally and on the client side, that makes projects successful." Faced with technical, human and process issues, she is continuously training as part of the professional development program at Createch.
"You have to be on the cutting edge of technology and on the lookout for good business practices. In this industry, you have to be able to challenge yourself, reinvent yourself and 'think outside the box' to always adapt to the business reality of your clients."
Grateful for the opportunities Createch continues to offer her and for the trust her managers place in her, Cécile hopes to continue her development within the company, whose acquisition by Talan last January "opens up all possibilities", and hopes one day to become a team manager.