SARRADE Stéphanie

Experience managing a cooperative in a “male activity” : Building Construction

About me





ACTION/SECTOR: INDUSTRY - Building Construction and Public Works sector



My Background and Career

From the age of 14 I was attracted to and worked in the building trade. I spent a BTS Building, then went to England and did a Master of Management teams of construction. At 21, I went into a business as Quality Manager. I worked for CITEL in 1997 and 3 years later, I was elected leader of a cooperative, operating in Building Construction and Public Works, a mostly male profession.
At the age of 28, as a young executive in the company, I replaced the leader when he retired. I run a company of 130 employees, mostly men. This cooperative first sought an entrepreneur through external recruitment, but the wage demanded by candidates who have risen too high meant a wage gap within the company. So the cooperators decided to make an internal recruitment. I was the more competent with respect to issues of essential skills of the post and it turned out that I succeeded. And I am now locally and regionally implicated in professional organisations of the branch, and in the regional cooperative movement.

My Experience

Being a manager so young was quite a challenge but fortunately it was in a SCOP (cooperative) and that kind of structure helped a lot. People are more open-minded about women.
The difficulty was to be taken seriously by the more traditional Building and Construction sector. It's a jungle, you have to fight hard to reach your goal. I chose to reduce my working time at the arrival of my second baby, when I was CEO of the company. At the same time, I have never had difficulties for childcare. My first companion struggled to support my career and my success. We separated. With my second companion, everything is OK. It's very difficult to gather all the staff around your one vision, you must be very convincing and being a SCOP means a democratic way of taking decisions.


My Skills

I am a winner and a fighter and I stick to my goal. I have the ability to learn, I like to set goals and achieve them, I know how to manage my time, make decisions quickly, and especially I can take advice and make use of the experience of others.

Hints & Tips

Stick to what you are, don't try to become "a man". Today women are mostly adapted to figure out solutions, they are very aware of the challenges (environmental and social) because they are much better on relying on their intuition and feelings to make good decisions. Do dare to step into men's field of work. Try to improve all the time relying on both male and female experience. The advantages are that you can develop territorial anchoring and responsible practices in your business and in connection with the environment. But be careful, take time for you to leave the daily business, working strategic vision and business development.



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