HBA Paris has an entrepreneur on its board. Elaine Rémy, director-at-large, programming, joined us to present insights about her journey as a woman entrepreneur.
Tell me about yourself and the story of Devel’UPing Y.O.U?
I'm the fifth child of six siblings and was born and raised in England to Jamaican parents. I studied French and Spanish at the University of Bradford. After finishing my degree, I moved to Belfort and went on to work in Strasbourg, Guadeloupe (French Caribbean), England and Paris as an executive assistant. However, the itch to be my own boss and to be free prompted me to take the plunge to become an independent business English trainer in 2008.
I developed a passion for personal development when I realized that French people not only needed to improve their English language skills, but also develop enough confidence to successfully operate in international business settings. For the last 12 years, I have been supporting French professionals, including GPs and specialist doctors, in developing the language skills, professional skills and personal qualities they require to work effectively in international environments.
The Y-O-U in Devel'UPing Y.O.U. stands for Yourself (personal intelligence), Others (leadership intelligence) and Us (cultural intelligence. The unique combination of services I provide enables people who work internationally to develop the skills and qualities they need to reach their full potential.
Who are your role models?
I have a type of role model: people who display resilience, tenacity and inner strength, while working towards making their vision become a reality. People who find a way to overcome the obstacles that could prevent them from achieving what they sense is on the inside of them. People who remain humble, approachable and people-focused when they become well-know and influential.
What is your biggest achievement so far?
I'm very pleased with the success of the two different networking events I created between 2012 and 2018. As a "relator", I'm passionate about relationship-building and thus networking. In partnership with a hotel in Paris, the Chamber of Commerce Essonne and sponsors such as How To Become Parisian In One Hour, I created a safe space for French people to become confident at networking in English, to feel comfortable attending conferences and workshops in English and to practice public speaking in English. Our mission statement was "building international relationships locally" and key words "speak, connect and grow". Many people were disappointed when I stopped running the events because of work commitments. That for me is a sign of achievement.
Was there a moment that made you doubt your career as an entrepreneur?
The thought has never crossed my mind. Moreover, several assessments have reinforced this by showing me that my strongest personality trait is that I am adventurous. I'm also ambitious, I have a high level of courage and initiative and thrive on new challenges. I think these are all personal qualities that every entrepreneur has.
Years of personal development have enabled me to realize that I'm someone who likes to seize opportunities; that I'm comfortable taking decisions; that I have a pioneering spirit which causes me to move ahead into new areas with little hesitation; that I feel quite comfortable undertaking activities which entail some risk including financial; that I like starting new projects, setting lofty goals and then driving myself to achieve them.
So, yes, I'm definitely an entrepreneur. Having said that I could quite happily become an "intrapreneur" if the right opportunity came along.
None of us can achieve success without support or mentorship along the way. Is there a particular person who helped you get to where you are today?
I owe a lot to my family and close friends and who have always seen my potential, believed in me and encouraged me in the pursuit of making my dreams become reality. I'm also grateful to those who have mentored me from a distance through the organizations they've created; namely Fabienne Fredrickson and John Maxwell and his faculty.
What is the best business advice you have ever achieved?
"Go international". Fabienne Fredrickson, Boldheart Academy (former Client Attraction Business School) 28 July 2015. I joined Fabienne's Growth Track programme at The Westin Paris near the place de la Vendôme after listening to her brilliant, compelling, authentic presentation during her Half-Day Solution. I was privileged to have her coach me that afternoon in my first "members only" session. The only piece of advice she gave me was to "go international”. That resonated with me very strongly. So, I did and developed my business online via video-conferencing tools. It was one of the best decisions I ever made as it enabled me to save a lot of time and energy on commuting and spend a lot more time earning money.
In what ways has Devel’UPing Y.O.U changed you?
When I became an entrepreneur in 2008, I was trading under the commercial name "Confidenglish" (a compound of the words "confident/confidence" and "English". I experienced a huge shift during Fabienne Fredrickson's Growth Track and by the time I'd completed the programme in 2016, I was trading under the name "English With Ease". Everything changed in 2017 when I took the focus off English and focused on personal development in English. This is when I decided to obtain certifications which enabled me to specialize in intercultural management and personal leadership. Devel'UPing Y.O.U was born.
Devel'UPing Y.O.U has changed me as, through the personal development I've done during my process of certification, I'm now clearer on my purpose as an entrepreneur. Discovering my personality traits and how I respond naturally to situations, my strengths and areas for development, my interests and passions, my natural skills and abilities and what I value in my work and life has also enabled me to go from "divergence" to "convergence". To focus on what is essential for me to fulfill my potential and help others fulfill theirs.
When you look back on your experiences as an entrepreneur, what career advice would you give to women?
I would advise women to make personal development a priority. Work on yourself first. In doing that, you will find your strength zones, your unique brilliance zones, your passion zones. This is where you need to concentrate all your resources. Next, I would advise women to work on their business. Have one business development only day a week where you focus your attention on how to grow your business. And finally, I would advise women to work in their business. Hustle. The Urban Dictionary states that the verb "to hustle "means "to have the courage, confidence, self-belief and self-determination to go out there and work it out until you find the opportunities you want in life." This is, in a nutshell, my secret to success.