It’s not every day that you encounter an actual alphabet for entrepreneurs where each letter stands for one useful recommendation-unless you have the opportunity to interview our Global Executive MBA Alumna Reine Mbang Essobmadje

Aside from providing a unique view into the life of an entrepreneur, Reine is the founder of Evolving Consulting,a digital consultancy company based in Cameroon and in France that provides consultancy, coding, strategy and marketing services in many projects within the ICT value chain in Europe as well as in Africa.

Reine identifies herself as both European and African and has been also actively working with scientific and women-specific organizations throughout the globe. She is one of the ambassadors of Women in Africa Initiative, a global think-thank promoting the economic development and support of high potential African Women. While active in many transversal fields of action, she also maintains a special focus on youth and women entrepreneurship, workforce diversity, and women in STEM.

As you can already observe, her plate is pretty full. However, she did take some time to share her story with us, and we hope that you enjoy reading about Reine’s inspiring story and her useful insights for other women in the workforce.

1. Tell us about yourself and your actual role at the moment.

I am the CEO of Evolving Consulting (a consultancy firm specialized in digital transformation) based in Cameroon and France.

2. How did you get where you are today and how has your experience at IE helped you?

I started my entrepreneurial Journey in 2009. 3 years later I decided to acquire missing competencies in order to improve manage my company and projects. I applied to the GxMBA program with an additional program in Ethics & Corporate Governance from SMU Singapore.

My EMBA experience has strengthened my management skills, gave me a 360° overview of a business in all its aspects. As an international consultant, I am also better at performing on my projects. As a French-speaking person, I think I did gain a lot in improving my English but the most benefit lies in entrepreneurship and relationships.

3. How do you achieve work-life balance?

I haven’t probably found the best way to manage both, but I am trying to be more organized, more focused.

I am working towards predefined objectives. Tasks and agenda management are key to success. And sometimes you have to say no to customers.

I did write 5 years ago an Entrepreneur’s Alphabet.

During these challenging times, I am trying to apply the letter “K- Do not sleep like a Koala. Planning your resting time is key to your success”.

4. What advice would you give to women who want to succeed in the workplace?

Referring to an Entrepreneur’s Alphabet: its purpose is to share the secrets to success.

I would pick letters “E- Envision like an Eagle. You should see into the future in order to break through with disruptive solutions and innovative ideas.” and “R- Be strong, loyal and self-assured like a Rottweiler.”

Business will bring investors and partners. Loyalty will turn them into friends. Strength and self-assurance will make them life-long business partners.

5. What kind of mindset should younger generations have to break the glass ceiling?

I will refer to the letters “D- Act like a Duck. Negativity is all around. People will try to discourage you; let the negativity flow off you like water off a duck’s back” and “B- Be like a Bee. A bee doesn’t ask permission to gather the best nectar; it flies until it has found the most suitable. The best nectar will lead to the best final product. Stop only when you spot it.”

6. How do you mitigate various unconscious bias at the workplace as well as for your own career planning?

I do apply the letter “M- Be as calm as a Molly.” Self-control is key to your business and reflects your maturity in addition to letter D.

7. What challenges have you experienced as a woman in business during your overall career?

I think challenges are part of the lifetime career-they never stop. In my case they also change according to the region (Africa, Europe, etc.)

Some are related to my age; I started my business at 29 and was quite young-looking. Working on a technical environment (I am an engineer in network and telecommunications) dominated by white old men wasn’t working in my favor. Customers did not expect a young woman to be the boss behind the company who won the tenders and I had to build trust, a strong reputation as well as a high quality of work.

In other words, I have the right to be here!

8. Could you share a professional failure that you’ve had and what you’ve learned from it?

One of our customers canceled a major contract. Although it was a termination by agreement, this meant a lack of satisfaction thus a poor quality of our deliverables.

The lessons learned here are a great anticipation of potential risks, a better understanding of customer’s expectations, and the ability to take a quick decision (including in managing my sub-contractors) to avoid similar things from happening again.

9. What or who has been your greatest influence in your professional path and why?

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Plus, a bunch of great women such as Marlene Kanga, Engineer, Past President of WFEO (World Federation of Engineering Organizations).

But in fact, I am in a constant process of learning from every human around.