Stéphanie Chaillaud

People Development Manager at Canon EMEA

I was raised to be brave and embrace the challenges that come my way as opportunities.”

I was raised to be brave and embrace the challenges that come my way as opportunities.”

 What is your personal story? 

My family and my French culture have strongly influenced who I am and the choices I’ve made in life. I was born in Royan, France and had very strong female role models. I was raised to be brave and embrace the challenges that come my way as opportunities. These women taught me to work hard, have high expectations for yourself, and be very independent. The more you study, the more choices you will have in life. Just as I’ve received the wisdom that’s been passed down generations of women in my life, I’ll continue to pass that on to my son and daughter.

Being French, I was raised to form an opinion, express it and fight for my ideas. When you say ‘I disagree’ it is the start of a conversation. I value people who have a different opinion. That’s how we learn and grow from each other.

I’ve had a long and satisfying career at Océ Technologies which is now part of Canon. In 2000, I started as a Documentation Developer in R&D and later worked in several roles as an International Trainer. My current position is leading the Sales Learning & Development Team for Canon EMEA. We do a lot of work making people aware of their social bias and working to change it.

People have been the red thread throughout my career. Helping people develop and improve their skills is what motivates me every day. What better reward than witnessing people gaining confidence and demonstrating more and more success and personal achievement.

Share the important challenges or breakthroughs in your career that led to where you are today

Moving and belonging to a new country
In 2006, I moved from my position at Océ Print Logic Technologies in France to The Netherlands to work for the Océ International Training Center (ITC). Moving to a new country alone is not easy, and a lot of my friends thought I was crazy to make the move. But I’ve always followed my instincts in my career. I learned the language and met my current partner three months in. This experience taught me a lot about understanding and overcoming cultural differences in the workplace.

I think it is very important to fight for inclusion and diversity. The younger generation has to see a variety of people – women, people of all races and disadvantaged people – at all levels of an organization. Whenever I hear something non-inclusive, I speak up and say something. It’s the first step in making people aware.

Delay in being promoted
In my career, it took me longer to become a manager than my male colleagues. I told my then manager that I was considering moving into a management role, and he said there was an opportunity. In the end, I didn’t get a chance to apply because I was told the decision had already been made. At first, I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough. Later, I realized it was just the way things work in big organizations. I’ve learned to pick my battles. So I was patient, and the next time around I was the first choice for the position and fully ready for it.

Learning from behaviors that hold you back
In our interviews, we love to talk about ‘12 behaviors that hold you back’ – that were researched and published in the book ‘How Women Rise’ from Sally Helgesen and Marshall Goldsmith. We asked Stéphanie if she could identify with any of these 12 behaviors that hold women back from moving forward in their careers.

Too much: Too much emotion, too many words and too much disclosure
Sometimes I'm too direct. You can see everything on my face. I'm also quite a passionate person and that can put some people off. But mostly I believe that if you are yourself, you have a greater chance of success. And my directness comes in handy especially in training sessions with men, because I can stand my ground if they try to fake it or bring me down.

Putting your job before your career
This is something I used to do in the past. Being so focused on doing my job right, a job dedicated to people development, sometimes made me forget about thinking about my own development and career. I am now making conscious choices to do both, because nobody except yourself will focus on your career!

The perfection trap
I have seen many people falling into this trap. Aiming at perfection is for me is the direct path to high stress, exhaustion and sometimes burn-out. Things are constantly changing around us so nothing can ever be perfect. I really try to make people aware of this around me because it is crucial to well-being.

When you find yourself in a difficult situation, what is your go to skill?

Being strategic. There is nothing you cannot do if you don’t want to. You just have to assess the situation, make your plan, and adapt it when the circumstances change. You have to be in for the long haul not just quick wins.

What advice would you give to other professional women who want to shine in their career?

The same advice I got from my grandmother and that I pass on to my 14-year-old daughter. She struggles with being motivated at school. I tell her, ‘The more you study, the more choice you will have in your life. After that, you can choose what you want to do that will make you happy. If you don’t do that, you will have to work in a job you might hate just to support yourself or you will have to be dependent on someone else to take care of you.

Another thing I would say is to be more confident and aware of the skills and value you do have. I do a lot of recruitment interviews and unlike men, a lot of women don’t apply for a position if they don’t meet 90% of the skills. Listen to yourself. Surround yourself with good people who are there to help you. They can give you an objective view of yourself. You can’t do it all on your own.

Sometimes you have to be selfish. Learn to say no. Think about what is good for you and take decisions for yourself. Your development is your responsibility, so stand up for yourself.

Share this blog