"I crossed the sea in a rubber dinghy"
FROM SYRIA TO HERZOGENAURACH, Germany - A refugee's story
Although she followed a scientific study course and was about to enroll in a biology program, Eloise decided at the last minute to change her path, and jumped into sports management. “I told myself, I love sports too much, it’s what I want to do in life”. After obtaining two different masters degrees in Sport Management and in Marketing, she knew it had been one of the best decisions she had ever made. The more she was around sports brands, the more she was interested in them. “I enjoyed the environment I was working in a lot!” Twelve years later, she still does. “I was never interested in any other industry than the one I’m in. My work is something I do out of passion”, she revealed.
Eloise grew up in a strict and mostly masculine environment outside of home, but never felt she got treated differently for being a woman. “I had to make my own way but never felt I couldn’t achieve what I wanted”. Furthermore, her mother always made sure she would thrive in a supportive environment.
At 32, her mom became single and had to take care of her three children; she also had to go back to work after a seven year break. Now that she is a mother herself, of an 18-month-old little girl, Lénaëlle, Eloise says she sees how strong her mother had to be. “I now see the sacrifices she made for me and my sisters so we could grow up in the best of conditions. When I think about what my mum did, it’s pretty incredible. My mother is the person I admire the most. She has had the biggest impact on my life and showed me I could accomplish anything.”
Becoming a mother was a game changer for Eloise, “It changes your entire life; your routine, your view of the world, your priorities… It’s so much responsibility. All of a sudden, you don’t live only for yourself. This little person comes first. My daughter is now part of this world and we, my partner and I, want to make sure she is given the best chances to succeed”, she emphasizes. “I wouldn’t want her to waste energy doing things that don’t bring her pleasure and satisfaction. We hope, as parents, to be able to help her as much as we can, of course. But we raise her the same way we would if she had been born a boy. I haven’t yet had to deal with issues that are linked to gender equality. I hope I won’t have to anytime soon or possibly not at all”.
Girls and boys, women and men; we should be allowed to have the same ambitions, Eloise believes . In her opinion, a lot of companies are improving on that matter. A pregnancy for instance shouldn’t slow down a career. Eloise explained she has been quite fortunate to have had intelligent and accepting people around her at work but also outside of work that never made her feel “like I was less than or not worthy. I would hope that would be normal in 2021 in France”.
“Personally, on my team, I think, I am well received. I’m older, I’m a mother and a woman. I bring a point of view and it diversifies our talks. Making sure that there is diversity on our team made it richer and more interesting. But not only that; our different personalities and life experiences also ensure the quality of our work”, she says.
Her advice to women would be for them to “Never become their own obstacle. Women are much stronger than they think. They should take possession of that power and always be true to themselves. Just because you sometimes find yourself in a more masculine environment doesn’t mean you have to camouflage yourself or conform in one way or another”, insists Eloise.
Karate, tennis, dance, climbing… Eloise has always been a sporty woman: “Sports is definitely a pillar in my life. Pushing myself, being able to let off steam, the amount of endorphins it creates but moreover, sharing that moment with others,” she says. She found that again through her work: “I like human contact, I’m delighted when I can help someone and even more, to see them leave with a smile on their face. I like to be of service and to advise. And when I’m with my colleagues, we also share our knowledge and our assets to achieve this. I like concrete and measurable things, in what I do, to know immediately if we have had a positive impact or not.”
Eloise enjoys working and learning new things. “I like to be challenged, I like to push myself and try to be the best version of myself at all times. I’m not someone who stays in her comfort zone. I’m not content with that. The moment I enter my comfort zone is the moment when I want to know ‘What’s next?’ ”.
“When the pandemic hit, I decided to invest in an electric bike. At first, I never thought I would succeed in crossing all of Paris by bike every day, twice a day. Then I did it once, twice and then finally I told myself: ‘This is great!’ Now I’m addicted to it and I don’t feel like taking the metro anymore”, she said. “Of course, I’m glad the bike has an electrical assist so I don’t get to work all sweaty but in the morning it’s like sometimes I have Paris all to myself!”