In the context of this Business Women's Day, we wanted to introduce one of the woman’s face of our company. Alice Grand-Chavin, CFO and member of the Executive committee of Oasis, has accepted our invitation of discussing with us about herself, her career and her advice for women in the industry. Let’s hear her out!
[Interviewer] Hi Alice! Thanks for accepting our invitation. Can you tell us more about yourself?
[Alice Grand-Chavin – CFO of Oasis Smart SIM] Thanks! I’m Alice, I am 53 years old, I have the position of CFO at Oasis, in charge of HR and Legal. I joined Oasis in 2014. Before Oasis, I’ve been working as a Financial Controller and moved to different positions until being CFO in a company which was called Prosodie. I stayed for 15 years at Prosodie – before taking a break to enjoy my third maternity leave. At that time, I moved to Singapore and made the move to start my own business as part-time CFO – where I was a consultant managing financial affairs for other companies. This venture lasted 5 years, between France and Singapore. Meanwhile, I had another CFO position in a company where I managed an IPO. We moved back to Singapore with my family in 2013, and that’s when I joined Oasis in 2014. Oasis was actually a customer of my business for which I was working part-time, and I ended up joining the company full-time.
You’ve had many hats in your career! Were there specific moments that come to mind as impacting and ground-breaking for your career?
There were many important professional moments. Some were great and exciting; others were sometimes difficult. I did two IPOs in France, before joining Oasis. When you go to the French Stock Exchange in Paris to finalize the IPO, you have this specific moment where you ring the bell of the stock exchange because your company is listed for the first time. This is the achievement of hard work accomplished and it was truly special. I also recall my first interviews for my first positions – there were moments very important to me that I still remember. I had the chance to meet people who gave me some opportunities and the chance to express myself as a young and unexperienced person. I still thank them for that, 30 years later. After this, for Oasis, it’s more about seeing the journey at Oasis which changed so much during this period – and it’s so great to see what the team has managed to achieve. We went through periods that were challenging and the whole team was there to support, and this was and still is truly inspiring to see the energy that a team can bring to create what we’ve created.
So you are a business-owner, a mother of three and a CFO of a highly-growing venture in France. You must have had inspiration throughout your career to achieve all that. Was there any woman that has inspired you at some point in this journey?
Tough question! I would say my mom – she was also a business owner when she was pregnant of her first son because she didn’t want to stay inactive. She worked her whole life and always managed to find the balance between the different activities; being a mom, being a wife, being a business owner. I’ve been raised in this environment where it’s not always easy – but it’s doable and it brings you a lot.
So yes , this inspiring figure made you think.. maybe me too, I can do it!
Thinking about it, I think it always felt natural – I didn’t choose, I never said to myself “I want to do the same, I want to do this”. I wanted to manage my own business to have a different working environment, a different balance. I wanted to be freer, I wanted to be able to manage my time, my priorities, and so on. At one point of time, I didn’t have any mental barriers, nothing told me “No you are not able to do that”. Because for me it was something that felt accessible – not easy but accessible. So when I had the feeling that I wanted to go after these things, I said “Ok let’s go let’s do it, why not”. I think this is the most important, not to create our own limits. If we want to try, let’s try, let’s work to make it a reality. It’s far from being easy, but I think this is very much worth to try.
That idea of mental barriers is super interesting. So your advice to a young woman starting her career would be about not letting her limits definer her? And I know that many of us may also unconsciously set limitations because at a certain level, there are more men than women - so that’s even more frightening because we have less representation.
Exactly. We must not think that it is easy and that everything will come but that it’s worth to try, to fight for it. You are mentioning the position of women in the business world – and obviously it’s worth it to bring our own assets as I’m convinced, going into generalities, that woman have different assets than men and that it’s essential and beneficial to any company to have a balance between the gender and bring different visions and way of doing things. So even if we may feel surrounded by more men than women in a certain moment of our career, we must not be afraid to be ourselves, to bring to the table our own way of doing things, of managing people or of expressing our sensitivity. Yes, it may be different from the man’s – but there's a lot to win in bringing this healthy balance of vision within a company at every level.
Thank you Alice.