Dominique Carlac'h, CEO, and Vice-President of the Medef (First French employers' organization)

Dominique Carlac'h, CEO, and Vice-President of the Medef (First French employers' organization)

Dominique Carlac'h is a former athlete and CEO of an innovation consulting firm. In 2018, after being the only female candidate for the presidency of the Medef (France's leading network of entrepreneurs), she was appointed Spokesperson and Vice President. Dominique Carlac'h is Chevalier de l'ordre national du Mérite. (Second national order after the Legion of Honor) 

Question: As a high-level athlete, a business leader, spokesperson and Vice-President of the Medef, what made you decide to follow these different paths? 

Answer: The will to do things, the desire to accomplish things: a performance, a project, to make a company grow... In reality, using my energy to produce and land something, projects, more than having power and relationships.  

Question: What path did you take to get there and what memories do you have of it? 

Answer: I followed a hybrid path, a mutant path. I have never simply remained in my water line and in the determinism of my condition, my school, my social and territorial belonging, feeding on what was not "part of my world". 

Question: Do you encounter or have you encountered difficulties as a woman entrepreneur? 

Answer: No, never. I would even say the opposite. There has always been a certain kind of curiosity. We wondered what a company manager did, how she was organized, who her clients, employees and teams were. I didn't experience any particular difficulties as a business leader. 

Question: What was the reaction of those around you when you presented yourself as a candidate for the presidency of the Medef? 

Answer: 3 reactions. First of all fear because they felt that the campaign was going to be exhausting, that I was going to be very exposed and that I could "take a beating". This is a reasoning that could be applied to a woman as well as a man.  They were afraid of the scrapes that could be harvested. The second reaction was an enormous sense of pride when they finally told themselves "how daring and courageous she is to run a campaign". And finally the third reaction was support, unwavering support.  We were a very close-knit, friendly and family campaign team, and that carried me. 

Question: Since you started as an entrepreneur, has there been a change in the place of women? 

Answer: Yes. Because, it became A TOPIC.  When I created my company, the fact of being a woman entrepreneur was not a subject, it was the creation of the company that was a subject, more than the project leader. Today society has a much higher expectation of the place of women as a whole and quite naturally, there is a particular expectation of women entrepreneurs. To have more women entrepreneurs as having more visible women in society as a whole, in terms of responsibilities, and not in demographic terms since we are 50/50!

Question: Would you have continued your career in sports if you hadn't created your company? 

Answer: No, because I had decided to "hang up my spikes" as they say in athletics when I judged that I had made a career breakthrough... So there was no giving up for each other. I always told myself that I wanted to do things. And to compete or to create a company, in the end it was in the same vein.

Question: What inspired you towards this professional career? 

Answer: When I was little, I watched a lot of television. I am a child of television and I saw that you could succeed in life without being too trapped by the social code, school grades, conventions, and finally by the social organization that you have to deal with. In creating her company, I saw freedom, I saw all the possibilities; the freedom to say "I do what I want, I work with whom I want, these are my rules and this is my game! 

Question: How does it feel at 24 years old to embark on this adventure? 

Answer: Actually, you feel nothing. We do it because we have it in ourselves, so there is no fear or negative stakes. There is just envy, an impulse, a feeling that there is nothing else possible even if you are told that you are going to face adversity. What you feel when you're 24, like when you're 17, or 34, or 52, is the urge to do something.

Interview: Adama Toulon.


D&CONSULTANTS - Innovation strategy and financing

Medef - the leading network of entrepreneurs in France

Wikipedia : Dominique Carlac'h