Updated: Oct 31
Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Jeanne Hortense NSI, Consultant @ Project Management Institute
How could you describe your career path in a few words?
I qualify my career path as atypical and a life-long learner. I have technical skills and competencies, combined with soft skills and varied experiences also as a volunteer in associations, targeting those that empower women and young people.
After obtaining a scientific high school diploma, I followed an initial training in Computer Engineering with a commercial option while having an interest in Educational Sciences. I started my career two decades ago in a sales Department of a large international insurance company. After 7 years, I returned to my IT original field after an upgrade in IT knowledges and a training in project management. I have been a Systems Engineer, IT Project Manager with an appetance for Data Science and Big Data. I am now a Consultant Francophonie & Special Engagement Projects a non IT recent role. My choice is to have several professional lives, I prepare myself beforehand by welcoming opportunities that arise and that I am passionate about. I continue to be inspired by men and women like Mrs. Simone Veil, Christine Lagarde, Elisabeth Moreno... for what they are and for the way they look at our society which needs everyone to make room and reach out to others.
What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?
My first job was the place with my most difficult experience but also the most formative one in a male-dominated environment as in IT classes. It was no longer the world of friends but the discovery of another reality and the learning of " NSI at work". The hardest part was not acquiring through training or on the job the technical and commercial knowledge and know-how to master the portfolio of products and services offered to individuals, professionals and companies. The problem was elsewhere. I became aware early on and to my expense of the difficulty and challenge for women to have a career path based solely on skills and performance without having recourse to a real sponsor "who speaks positively of you" in the decision-making spheres regarding promotions or access to positions of responsibility. Unfortunately, the speech was not yet liberated to speak out about this or be heard.
However, there were also a positive and formative aspects here. I gained softskills : Collaborative leadership, Capacity to federate a network of differents stakeholders, Strategic thinking, Capacity to argue, influence and convince, Creative problem solving, Commercial awareness. I keep this mindset of taking the positive in any context even harmful.
When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?
Project management is a field where context matters and requires adaptations.
I cultivate an agile mindset and it is important to adapt in a VUCA world. Not everything is written, technologies change and there are always unforeseen events. The Covid 19 crisis is another reminder that changes are frequent and require the project leader to adapt. The latter has also had to learn how to work with distributed teams in terms of communication, resource sharing. I don't start a project saying to myself I know everything, I've seen everything. I have this humbleness and this modesty to rely on those who know the context, the field, the important stakeholders of the project. I rely on those who have the skills required to transform ideas into reality. In project management, it is for example the team members who clearly know what is happening in the field, what the obstacles are and how to tackle them with the help of Project Leader. The idea is to trust them to act together and give them the space to be innovative.
What’s the key success factor for a female entrepreneur in cross-cultural context based on your experience?
I have worked in different contexts with teams in France and abroad and whatever the context in which one evolves, intercultural or not, I have understood at my level two things and it is an opinion that is shared by others
Technical skills are not an overwhelming problem and they can be learned and this is an invitation to continuous learning.
One of my must to have in key success factor is « knowing yourself to be with others ». Be yourself, know yourself better and know your values. When you know yourself and know how to regulate yourself then you can successfully be and succeed with others and that takes practice. This point seems to me to be seen as a key factor of success for a woman or a man. I use Daniel Goleman's model with its 2 dimensions on one hand "self and others" and on the other hand "recognize and regulate", and the associated components.
Finally, I would also say that you should not be afraid to start small, to make mistakes, to learn quickly and to move forward by improving yourself and your self-confidence.
I am curious about people and cultures.
Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader/manager?
In my opinion, there is a combination of traits for success
Curiosity: learning new things, meeting different people by inspiring them and being inspired by them.
Courage: dare to step out of your comfort zone while keeping an eye on your main goal and seize opportunities.
Faithfulness and commitment: with my questions, what makes sense, what makes me passionate ? What makes me happy? These questions help me to stand up when I fall in order to overcome obstacles and restart on the faith of lessons learned, what to improve or to put aside? I also keep a positive mindset that is not naivity to welcome and handle challenges.
Inclusive and servant leadership: above all, I make sure to be people-centric for my decisions or actions with benevolence to understand the other person while setting limits and also with compassion to go further by proposing a support, an accompaniement so that the person realizes oneself with her or his means.
Grow together with others and empower more women: I serve the teams and so do the teams and together we achieve goals. "We don't climb a tree with only one hand" said a proverb to highlight union as a strenght.