Ex Directeur marketing de Google Could France & Projet maars
25 May 2021
Salime is now fully dedicated to the maars project which aims to unleash the unique potential of each person towards positive and lasting change, whether in business or not.
From pastry chef to Marketing Director Google Cloud France, a real big difference?
I was never really a pastry chef, I started a luxury pastry chain, which is not exactly the same thing. Indeed, I have always loved learning new things. And although I have spent a large part of my career in technology companies, I like to explore and disrupt, thanks to technology, new sectors such as pastry or, like today, that of personal development.
You have an atypical course to say the least. Can you tell us about your childhood?
I was born on Reunion Island, but I have grown up since I was one year old in the suburbs of Paris. I am the union of a mother, a Reunionese Christian, and a Comorian Muslim father. Mixed race child, disabled (I can't see with my right eye since my birth), with parents without money, without a diploma and with different religions and cultures (African and Western), I was brought up with a very broad view of the world, tinged with tolerance, benevolence, and humanism. I had a pretty classic education. As I didn't have a lot of money, but a strong will to get by and some facilities too I think, I always worked in parallel with my studies to be able to pay for them ... At the time, I was very shy and introverted. It has changed a lot since then because I have worked a lot on it. I loved to read. I spent hours at the CDI and in the library. This curiosity about the world and a strong taste for business naturally led me to enter a business school, EM Normandie, then another, ESCP and finally Standford. Since then, I have not stopped training continuously.
And on a professional level?
When I was 23, with some school friends, I created my first business - a web agency - which has become the 1st interactive communication agency in Normandy. It was sold in 2000 to the Business and Decisions Group. In the meantime, I was recruited into the founding team of France Telecom Interactive, which then became Wanadoo, then Orange. I put together the Wanadoo Pro offer. Then, I joined as Marketing Manager at Alcatel where I later became Marketing Director of Alcatel-Lucent France. I also chaired CMIT (The Club of Marketing Directors of IT) for 3 years. By the time Google contacted me in 2012, I was preparing to leave Alcatel-Lucent and was already working on setting up a new start-up. From my first interview at Google with their World CMO, I was convinced by the fabulous opportunity that presented itself to me. I was about to join the budding adventure of Google Cloud and the cloud in general. Having an entrepreneurial spirit, I was really excited to join a "start-up" in one of the most prestigious companies in the world. It was amazing, it was going fast, very fast. I was at the heart of Tech's reactor. The people were motivated, at a very good level.
Your time at Google, can you tell us about it?
I had some great years at Google, but also some not so good. Indeed, I have seen colleagues get sick for work, go into depression and gradually lose all their illusions, all their beliefs, all their self-esteem. Seeing that, I asked myself a lot of questions: How was it possible not to be fulfilled even though these employees had, for the most part, always lived in a privileged environment ... And this since their youngest age? Why weren't there more diverse people in these big tech companies?
I felt it was time for me to act.
What were the driving forces behind your motivation?
Since I was born my social background, my eye disability, my skin color and my first name did not help me to have confidence in myself ... Then one day, by dint of having the impression of wasting my potential, I had had enough of being a spectator of the injustices that I saw around me, even on me. I decided to take matters into my own hands. I stopped resenting the whole earth, and working on myself to get myself out of this. And since then, not a week has gone by, not a day when I don't try to improve myself under George Hebert's motto: "Stronger to be useful".
"Stronger to be useful" a beautiful motto! How do you apply it?
You probably know the theories of this naval officer who advocated an integral education encompassing both physical activities and moral education with values such as will and courage. The idea is to start by being strong yourself first and then being able to help others ... And that's really what I've been trying to do from a young age.
For that, I read a lot of books to better understand who I was and how the world worked. I have carried out a lot of experiments to push myself even further, whether on professional challenges or on completely crazy challenges such as knowing how long I could go without sleep, or how long I could go without eating ... Some useful tips and others a little less ... But what is certain is that today, I know myself much better and I can without hesitation say that I am fully fulfilled. Well almost… I will be really completely when Maars becomes a huge success. Because my main motivation today, why do I wake up with enthusiasm every morning? it is to find a solution to make people more fulfilled. When we know that more than of the world's population say they are not fulfilled, it becomes urgent to find solutions. I've been thinking about it for years and with Maars I'm glad I found a piece of the solution to the problem.
Today you are committed to a profound change in society. Can you tell us about the Maars project?
Our mission at Maars is to unleash the unique potential of each person for positive and lasting change, whether in business or not. And our ambition is to become the world's leading destination for personal development by offering personalized and affordable programs for all.
Maars stands for the 5 essential pillars of a fulfilling life:
Mission: to find your way, your purpose.
Autonomy: to learn to learn and use its full potential.
Action: to take matters in hand and know how to be proactive.
Relationships: to understand one's relationships with others, to live better together.
Health: to significantly improve one's physical, psychological and social health.
Maars is also a growing community of ambitious and caring people to whom we offer as a subscription:
-Challenges to take action. It can be to develop your self-confidence or to better control your time.
-Curating quality and exclusively positive content, because separating the wheat from the chaff is not easy.
-Podcasts to progress differently, in public transport, in the car, at home, in the office, or in bed.
-In the coming months, thanks to an algorithm that we are in the process of developing, we will offer our members the possibility of completely personalizing their learning journey as well as monitoring their progress.
What levers promote innovation and teamwork?
There are five key dynamics that distinguish successful and innovative teams from other teams:
- psychological safety: so that each member of the team can take risks without feeling insecure or embarrassed.
- reliability: which allows everyone to be able to count on each other.
- structure and clarity: it is essential to clearly define the objectives, roles and responsibilities of each.
- meaning: is what we are working on personally important to us?
- the impact: is my work important or is it a “bullshit job”?
When we add to this, the 5 pillars of Maars (mission, autonomy, action, relationships, health), you are guaranteed to have an innovative, efficient and collaborative team ... Face-to-face and remotely.
The coronavirus crisis is disrupting our societies. What can we learn from this?
Indeed, this crisis is disrupting our societies and society in many ways.
I would like to quote here Andy Grove the ex-CEO of Intel: "Bad companies are destroyed by the crisis, good ones survive it, big companies take advantage of it to improve themselves."
In other words, yes there are many challenges to overcome but no it is not insurmountable. It’s still the story of the half empty and half full glass.
For me, the biggest lesson to be learned from this global crisis is that the future belongs to those who know how to seize the opportunities and to project themselves into the future, by acting in the present ... and not to those who continue to live in the waiting for everything to return to “before”.
I find that we still burn too much energy complaining and, in my opinion, not enough trying to find solutions, to change things, to change behavior.
A word to pass on to us?
It's been a long time since I realized that I was the only one capable of changing my direct environment. I am a fervent supporter of “if you want, you can” ... But you still have to really want it.
I believe that what the world needs today, and more particularly company employees, is a vision, a model that makes sense, to believe in their dreams ... Above all, you have to understand that you have to move, take your responsibilities in complete autonomy to take action.
I've been saying this for 25 years, despite some negative effects of digital, I continue to firmly believe that technology, when used well, can be a real strength for the company, its employees, and, more broadly, for humanity.
If you could time travel, what would you say to the child you were?
Easy question because I thought about it a lot before working regularly with young people from different backgrounds. The advice that I would give to the child that I was would therefore be exactly the same as that I give today during my lectures towards younger targets:
1. Live your life to the fullest, you only have one
2. Life is unfair, and that's good
3. Follow your passions and dreams
4. Believe in yourself, no one will do it for you!
5. Invest in yourself permanently! Learn to learn and love to learn
6. Focus on your goals and ignore the rest
7. Just do it! Or just F ------ do it!
8. Surround yourself with good relationships
9. Give more than you get
10. Take care of your body and mind
It's been a long time since I realized that I was the only one capable of changing my direct environment. I am a fervent supporter of “if you want, you can”
What do you like about being an international speaker?
What I love about this job is meeting and enriching myself with new people, new jobs, new business sectors, new trends. I like to decipher our rapidly changing world and share my findings with as many people as possible and to see lasting changes take place in organizations. When I see the ultra positive reactions and testimonials from the people in the companies in which I operate, I feel like I am useful.
Believing above all in people as a vector of creativity and progress, I like to challenge the status quo and ignite the flame of daring and creativity, to (re) energize employees and, thus help them move forward, both in their personal and professional life. It’s a good way for them to regain hope, envy and try new experiences.
Finally, I like to spend and have a good time. More than ever, in a VUCA (vulnerable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world with an uncertain future, it is important today to unite and energize teams so that they feel fully fulfilled.