On the occasion of International Women’s day, we gave the floor to Niamh, the President of nunii Laboratoire, through an interview in which she tells us about her job and looks back on her experience as a woman entrepreneur.
. What made you want to do this job ?
I entered this industry by chance really; I started my career in 1999 as marketing assistant for a French world leader in slimming and body contouring with their therapeutic massage devices which was my first introduction to the wonderful international world of aesthetic medicine. It’s an industry where innovation and science meets beauty and luxury ; it is a fantastic industry to work in as a woman. And I have worked all my professional life in this industry and never wanted to change.
. What does your job consist of ?
I am one of the 2 co-founders of NUNII Laboratorie. I have 2 roles in the company, I am president of NUNII which comes with various legal and administrative responsibilities and part of this role also involves managing the expectations of the various stakeholders in the company. My functional role in the company is Sales and Marketing Director. I oversee the brand positioning and strategy and am involved in the roll-out of both our upstream such as the creation of our marketing tools and operational marketing initiatives such as trainings and congresses. I also manage the International sales activities and distribution partners and networks for NUNII.
. What interests you most about your job ?
I think if you’re brave enough to start your own business, as it is a huge commitment and sacrifice, it’s because you want to shape your destiny and live your passion. My professional driving forces are people, travel, creativeness, continuous learning and independence. I like meeting and exchanging with people from different cultures and backgrounds, you learn something new every day. No challenge is too big, I am never afraid to try. I like the feeling of making a difference even if very small when people say, “wow thank you so much, I really love what NUNII represents and I am amazed with the results on my skin”. NUNII is like my baby, it’s all the planning and preparation and then seeing the project grow day by day. Every day brings challenges but also unexpected and positive surprises.
. What does a typical day look like by your side ?
Up at 6am take advantage of the calm to get myself ready. 7am first wake up my 2 girls ; a one and two year old get them dressed. Family breakfast with my husband & daughters, drop my girls off at the nanny. 9 am arrive at the office quick brief with the team and go about whatever meetings or tasks I have set for the day. Eat lunch on the run in 10 minutes then back to work. Once or twice a week, if I’m lucky, I may manage a workout in the gym. Evening time 18H30-21H is solely dedicated to my girls. Once they’re in bed I have some precious time to relax and have dinner with my husband and then quite often I do a little more work until midnight. Weekends, if I am not travelling, are 100% dedicated to family activities.
. How is your work week ?
I have 2 variables to deal with, 2 very young children and a NUNII our young startup company ; both are unpredictable and evolve very quickly ; every day comes with its surprises, so no two weeks are the same. As is the case for all working mums time is precious and of the essence. The only way it all works is thanks to checklists and planning. It varies by month by on average I am out of the office travelling to meet with suppliers and clients both nationally and internationally about 40% of the time. My work calendar evolves around the major International congress events and business trips to meet with our distributors and clients.
. What were the motivating factors that led you to start your own company?
I think entrepreneurism is a personality trait. I have always had an ambitious streak, once I achieve an objective I innately need to find myself a new challenge. I felt that the only way to fully put my ideas into practice and to respect my values and conscience was to set up my own business. A combination of fortunate circumstances including meeting the right people and the maturing of the business idea, lead to the creation of NUNII Laboratoire earlier than I expected in the scheme of things.
. Are there any disadvantage to being a woman in entrepreneurship ?
I can honestly say since starting NUNII I have never openly been treated disrespectfully or negatively but it cannot be denied that there unspoken prejudices and facts that women have to face in the professional world. It is evident that women out-number men in entry-level jobs and junior management jobs, the further one moves up the managerial scale, sadly there are fewer women and the pay gap increases at senior roles. It is not infrequent to find myself in meetings solely surrounded by men. I also regularly get the habitual comments “How do your 2 young children cope when you are travelling ? What does your husband think about your job ? Nobody would ever think of making such comments to a man with children. But thankfully I have a very solid family support structure ; my husband and children are happy and balanced and take it all in their stride. They and are very supportive and proud of me, which is tremendous bonus. This is why, it was important for me that from its very foundations, one of the fundamental ethos of nunii laboratoire is a commitment to equal opportunities and a social policy that focuses on working-life quality for its employees both men and women. We want NUNII to be respected in the industry as a forward thinking and nice company to work for.
. How do you manage to combine work and family life ?
First of all choose the partner who is balanced and comfortable in themselves and willing to accommodate you in your professional career, this is the most important the rest is just a question of determination, organization and a good support network.
. Do you have some advice for women who want to embark on an entrepreneurial approach?
A business plan with financial projections is a must. It makes it easier if you enjoy a good support network; that includes family and friends but also business networks. Don’t try to do everything alone, ask for help, share experiences, join business and trade associations which can provide valuable knowledge and experience. Finally, be patient and persevere.
. What is your vision of women’s entrepreneurship for the future ?
The way we work today is changing thanks to information technology and the Internet. In order to attract the best talent companies will have to be flexible, i.e. offer more possibilities to workers to remote work from home even from another region or country. This type of organization will allow greater opportunities for women to reconcile family and professional lives.
. You have a Master of Business Administration, the highest level of international business training available. Why this choice ?
I did my MBA https://www.euromba.org/ in 2002-2004. It was as much a personal desire and challenge to obtain the highest diploma possible in business studies ; to know about the leading business and financial concepts to gain in credibility and open-up opportunities to higher managerial roles. I wanted to work my way up the ladder quickly and gain experience, this was one of the means.
. March is the month of the Women’s Day, do you have any advice to give to women or women-future business leaders ?
If there is a will there is a way. Be true to yourself and follow your dreams and ambitions.
. Can you tell us something about your relationship with François ?
Francois Montcriol is co-founder of NUNII. He is CEO and Director of Innovation. Francois is a pure gentleman and pleasure to work with we get on very well together. We have different personalities, but we are very complimentary. He has a more scientific background and is more reserved and diplomatic. I am more of an extrovert and business minded and head strong. We share the same sense of humor and so it’s great fun working together.
. You are Irish and live in France. How do you live interculturality daily in your profession ? Do you find any advantages or disadvantages ?
The obvious advantage of being Irish living in France is that English is my native language this combined with the Irish sociable nature are a bonus doing business internationally. France has a long and rich culture and tradition in all forms of art, culture and luxury which provides lots of influence and a nice living environment. There are some of the leading research, medical and formulation experts in the world, it is probably one of the reasons that France is the home of some of the leading brands of dermocosmetics, so I couldn’t think of anywhere better to live and develop our business.
. Why is it so important for you that everybody takes care about its skin ?
The skin is the largest organ in the body, it is a reflection of the general state of health on the inside. You only have one skin “capital” in your lifetime which needs to be taken care of, as over time it ages and cannot repair itself as well. We say in French “Avoir bonne mine”, which translates into “To look well”. This meaning of this saying in English is that when your skin looks good, you feel good and when you feel good you feel healthy and happy. It becomes a virtuous circle and then life smiles on you !