Marie-Solesmes answers our questions in this article, telling us about "her" hackathon and her project.
How did you find out about the hackathon?
I learned about the GEF weekend through the monitoring I do every day about women entrepreneurs. Social entrepreneurship and innovation are important to me, as are new technologies.
I first signed up for the Startup Weekend as a "partner" with the idea of using my expertise and experience to help other women with their projects.
When I found out that ENGIE was itself a partner in the event, I was encouraged by the Group to enter my own business project. It wasn’t at the ideal level of maturity, but I decided to go for it and “throw myself into the deep end without a buoy" as it were.
Tell us about your project.
I started off with the observation that society and the planet are changing fast and that the way we work in the future needs to be invented now. The way we relate to our employers is changing, especially for the Y and Z generations, and increasingly includes a need for solidarity and meaning.
My solution involves collaboration between three parties: the employee, their company and a recognized public-interest organization. It helps the company revitalize its links with the employee. It in turn lets the employee develop a new aspect of his or her professional life by providing expert assistance to an association, and upon their return to work to reinject all that they’ve learned back into the business: improved motivation, new business approaches etc.
So the project is focused on making the most of the company’s "human resources" and "social responsibility" and serves as an effective way to fight against current problems like burnout and bore-out while feeding into GPEC (forward management of jobs and skills).
What are you going to take away from this hackathon weekend?
It's been a super motivational challenge and a real personal and professional one as well, especially given the relative immaturity of my project. It's important to get out of your comfort zone and try unusual experiences when you’ve been in professional life for some time. It lets us confront new issues and see how to "think and act" differently. It’s a source of innovation and wealth. I think I would have enjoyed this weekend even more if my plan had been more mature, but the results are nevertheless extremely encouraging.
I also met women from very different backgrounds. The projects presented were very diverse, but they were all very interesting. I had really rewarding discussions with the various partner speakers, who are all volunteers here on their own time, and with the project owners, business angels, coaches, and other people.
This weekend was also an opportunity for me to discover the Ecole 42, which is a unique place. The school was created by Xavier Niel, the founder of Free, and it’s based on the ability to innovate, to see and think differently. The atmosphere is very special, with an interesting environment: interpersonal skills and expertise are more important than your degree. Daring to try is more important than winning because doing is already being successful. It blurs a lot of boundaries. "
After this weekend, you must have a lot of hope!
This weekend does give me a lot of hope for the future, particularly since the ENGIE Group got involved, which sends a strong signal to women in the Group and more specifically to the women's network at ENGIE (WIN: Women In Network).
Personally, seeing my project come in second after the first round (1 slide, 1 minute presentation) is a great reward. I also discovered that my project was interesting enough to get funding and collect members. A student from the Ecole 42 has joined the team, and associations like UNICEF have shown interest in this new approach to corporate philanthropy. It's very encouraging!
Whatever the results are on Wednesday night, it’s already been a great victory for me to have been selected. I hope that ENGIE will be convinced by it and will want to try their luck.
The results of the second round will be announced Wednesday, December 2nd. Of the 20 projects still in the running, four will be selected in the "Climate", "Innovation", "Audacity" or "Inclusion in Diversity" categories, the latter in which Marie-Solesmes’s project is competing.
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