Project Description

Mireille Garolla

Managing Partner, Group ‘3C

Mireille started her career in finance, then held positions in operations and general management. In 2010, she used this expertise to take over her own company specializing in HR. Learn how she manages her career, family and the publication of her first book

  • What did you do after graduation and what are you doing today ?

What I did at that time and what I do today are very different things indeed. When I left school I chose to join a famous audit firm. At that time I thought it was a nice way to continue my education because I learned how to work hard, organize my thought process and adapt quickly to different environments.

Today I manage a Consulting Firm specialized in coaching and outplacement. You could summarize my working experience by explaining that I started in Finance, held general management positions and ended up in Human Resources.

“You can comprehend the core of a business by crunching the numbers and financial reports.”
  • What was your first work experience ?

My first work experience consisted in being an auditor at Arthur Andersen. Prior to that, 2 interships that I did during summer periods really helped me to understand how to work in different business environments.

– The first one, in Paris, consisted in managing a grocery store, where I learned how to attend to and care for my customer needs.

– The second one, for Bank of America in New York showed me the importance of guarantees and regulation.

  • How was your first job at Arthur Andersen ?

The first years as a debutant (beginner) made me very humble. You had to crunch numbers, that’s normal, but you also had to do things like carrying heaving documents, computers or even stamping envelopes. It was totally odd compared to what you were being paid.

The team spirit was very strong to help you cope with the pressure. A funny feeling came from the fact that you were at the same time given a lot of autonomy and large responsibilites at the clients site, and constantly reminded that you were straight beginners when at the firm’s office.

  • Your next stations were also in finance at Adecco and Pierre & Vacances.

It’s true, I really enjoyed working in finance. You can comprehend the core of a business through the numbers, their structure and the financial reports.

In both cases I created the controling department of these firms, choosing my direct reports and and implementing new digital technologies.

The purpose was, in a time of crisis, to understand why the business was underperforming and how it could be leveraged.

“I was 27 at that time managing a team of 50 FTEs”
  • How did you come to general management tasks ?

You could say out of « bad luck ». When I worked at Adecco and Pierre & Vacances we had economically hard times.

My tasks included at the same time analysing the business to find leverage, but also create financial models to support major cuts in the number of people employed by the firm. I was 27 at that time and managing a team of 50 FTEs. As a consequence I had personally to let go people who were much older than me, perfectly aware that they would not find another job for a long time, if ever.

After two experiences of this type I decided to make a change. Otherwise my resume would have be branded as « crisis manager » which I did not want to happen.

  • What was this change of your career path like ?

I decided to go for a real career challenge and chose to work for a a small company, owned by an american firm (who was at that time the world leader in franchising and in the business of operating major call centers).

Working for the french subsidiary, and subsequently the London branch, we introduced in Europe the concept of Loyalty Programs in the banking sector.

My bet was sucessful as I ended up hiring 90 people for the Paris office and then managing 800 newly hired FTEs in our european call centers.

I was then appointed General Manager of the French subsidiary, where I renegotiated the contract with Société Générale and signed a new one with BNP-Paribas.

“I remember it as one of the toughest decisions of my whole life”
  • Why did you change jobs again after 5 years ?

I did it for very personal reasons. I was at that time very satisfied with my job ; I was heading a Business Unit, was traveling and my compensation figure was more than comfortable.

On the other side, at home, one of my daughters was in huge distress and needed my full attention.

I remember it as one of the toughest decisions of my whole life but I went to my employer and asked him to let me go so I could spend time with her, at home.

After that, I realized that coming back to general management with customers issues would not be possible for quite some time. I wanted to be a family role model as my husband was traveling abroad.

I decided to join Skadden (a major law firm) in the position of General Secretary for 6 years. This enabled me to enjoy a real « mother life ».

  • Eventually you became the managing partner in your own company – Group’3C. Tell us a bit more about that.

After 4 years in my position at Skadden, I understood that my kids were back on track, and that there was no more reasons for me to hold back my career. The remaining question for me was : what can I do with such a diversity of professional experiences. As a professional recruiter would put it, there was no case I would fit. As I could not find a salaried position that would suit me, the obvious choice was to invest in a company that I would run. I negociated my departure, went on some training courses and decided to buy Group’3C, which I have headed for 6 years now.

I have also published a book this february (2016) which address problem of career changes. This subject is my all time favourite as it is the core business of my company and reminds me so much of my personal experience.

“The first advice I give is to allow yourself to dream.”
  • What does a normal day look like for you nowadays ?

Today I enjoy at the same time the structure of a company and the possibility of refining my own job, therefore my personal schedule.

I try to balance structure, support and flexibility both in the way I manage my company and position it on its market, and in my practice of accompanying managers to implement their own career changes.

I have already changed my business model since I bought the company, and I intend to do it again in the near future.

  • What trade-off do you have to make in order to follow your dream in life ?

That is very interesting. To my clients I usually give 3 advices to help them go through major career changes. The first one is not to give up on your dreams; even if people surrounding you seem to always give you advices about what you should do and what you should not do.

The second advice is « do not be afraid of the first move ». The first step is always difficult as you do not really know what to expect and you are definitely not sure that the success will be on board.

The third advice is « when you fail, regroup and try again ».

Following these advices to start something new is definitely really helpful. It does not erase the anxiety brought by any new situation but it provides a tool to mitigate it.

  • What do you think about living in Paris ?

It is the greatest city in the world. I feel very blessed as  my main office is in the 16th arrondissment, and once a week, I take my car to visit my second office in Marne-la-Vallée.

I have the impression that I created a life that suited my needs and I enjoy every minute of it.

  • Thank you for sharing your story.