EVE International 2019: highlights from the second day at the seminar

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The tenth EVE International seminar continued on October 2nd, 2019 in Evian. We take a look back at the events of the day.


Rachel Picard, a dynamic businesswoman with a flair for leadership

After their workshop sessions, participants returned to the Grange au Lac for a series of plenary sessions that began with a talk by Rachel Picard, managing director of Voyages SNCF. Her journey is very inspiring and reflects her sharp business mind, her expertise in customer management, her drive to move forward and her depth of vision. She took an interest in the digital world during its very early stages, and still makes it a priority, because “digital brings constant challenges”. She is a genuine person with a direct message filled with good sense, and used her wicked sense of humor to remind participants about their right to make mistakes, the values of cooperation and teamwork, as well as the importance of a healthy (and optimistic) view of politics.

Florence Servan-Schreiber, optimism and super-powers!

It was then time to hear from Florence Servan-Schhreiber, who strives to teach people how to find happiness, and whose message fits perfectly with the popular ideas of positive psychology, which means focusing on what is going right, rather than what needs to be fixed. She invited everyone to ask themselves questions that generate encouraging and motivating answers (rather than questions that include gloomy self-fulfilling prophecies). She also recommended that participants acknowledge and use their qualities (rather than pinpointing their flaws and spending their time comparing themselves to others), and suggested that optimism should be nurtured as a way of “interpreting reality in a positive way”. Because “when we activate our optimism, we start achieving great things.” And as everyone knows, “success doesn’t bring happiness. Happiness generates success.” So, let’s dare to enjoy ourselves!


Bringing cultures, ideas and points of view together, with Franck Riboud

The question and answer session with Franck Riboud, Chairman of the Danone Board of Directors was a great success, as it is every year. The company director shared his views on leadership, which he believes takes courage, creativity, authenticity and intuition. He added that leadership also means being part of a longer story, looking to the past and devising ways of heading into a sustainable future. To make that happen, it’s important to meet a diverse range of people, and never give in to the temptation to believe that the truth can always be found in familiarity. It was a strong message, and helped to bring the issues of diversity and inclusion – as well as the challenges brought by business transformation – into context.


Being your true and original self, with Myriam Cohen-Welgrym

Myriam Cohen-Welgrym was one of the pioneers of EVE, one of the first women who imagined what the program could be, and one of the participants at the first edition in 2010. This time she swapped her seat in the audience for a place on stage at the Grange au Lac. Myriam has many strings to her bow: she has occupied positions of enormous responsibility in large international groups (Pepsico, Mars and L’Oréal), is an accomplished artist, a skilled wordsmith and a loyal supporter of empowerment for women. She used her talents to write a book entitled Et tu oseras sortir du cadre (Daring to be different), which pays tribute to the EVE experience while giving some useful advice about how to be the best you can be and how to assert your own original leadership style.


Negotiating the barriers to cooperation, with Jean-Edouard Grésy

Jean-Edouard Grésy, founding partner of AlterNego, then delivered a lively presentation on conflictuality and negotiation. From academic references to irresistible touches of comedy, from film clips to scientific study renditions, this legal anthropologist explained the ordinary (and ineffective) reactions that may occur in a situation of conflict: flight, aggressive retaliation, temptation to yield without concession, and so on. He then suggested looking at things differently, taking inspiration from the martial art Wing Chun, advocating balance, an ability to move forward in the same direction as the other person, and re-framing the discussion by asking questions to remove obstacles to the relationship and initiate cooperation. 


Runa Khan, a woman who is changing the world and giving other women the power to change the world too

Runa Khan, founder and managing director of the NGO Friendship, which provides assistance for people even in the most remote areas prone to flooding, wrapped up the second day’s plenary series at EVE 2019 by telling her story and delivering the strong messages it contains. She grew up in comfort, inside what she describes as a “glass bubble”, a protective yet restrictive environment. A meeting with an adventurous former flight attendant changed everything, and together they decided to start a humanitarian aid project in Bangladesh. And they didn’t stop there, they went on to create a full-fledged NGO with several hundred employees and thousands of volunteers, supporting five million people each year. This powerful and determined woman believes that it’s important to give power to women all around the world so that they can take action: first because it is right, and second because women are the ones who work day in, day out, making the world a safer place. They are more likely to generate sustainable wealth, peace, and a shared future.

It’s party time!

As we finished this report, EVE participants were just getting ready for the event’s biggest dance party & networking event. The secret will soon be out! Which company will take home this year’s prize for getting everyone in the party mood? Who do you think should win?