CONSTANCE: Have you ever had a mentor yourself before? If yes, what was the main impact of your mentor in your career life?
PASCAL: When I was 30 years old, working as a marketing manager at Heineken, my boss became my mentor. He greatly shaped the leader I am today. He was able to set the bar high and empower people to reach it. He knew how to transform a seemingly scary objective into a strong motivator, by celebrating the small wins every day. I loved working with him, and I try to use the same philosophy now as a CEO: I want us to set bold objectives, to trust ourselves to achieve them, as a team, and to take pleasure in doing so.
LOUIS: What is your main motivation to be a mentor?
PASCAL: A mentor both gives and receives. I like to teach and to make people trust themselves and grow, as I did during years when I was teaching marketing to business school students. Having mentees is an opportunity to pass on knowledge and to help them develop both professionally and personally. I also receive a lot from my mentees. They are the young generation, with their own expectations, their own convictions, and fresh eyes on the business. Talking to my mentees is a way for me to be challenged and receive unfiltered information and comments, something you tend to lose when becoming a board member, and something that I value very much. For me, being a mentor is time well spent.
CONSTANCE: What was your most challenging mentor experience and why?
PASCAL: I had a mentee a few years ago that had a lot of difficulties balancing her expectations and her own engagement and participation. She wanted to receive a lot from METRO and her managers, and at the same time, she didn't take risks and didn't contribute as much as she could have during the programme. In this graduate programme, you learn by doing. It is not an Executive MBA with theory teaching. People who only want to learn like at school or only want to receive from their managers or colleagues are missing the point of this programme. As a mentor, I value the potential and the willingness to learn, but I also expect my mentee to contribute to their teams and to the growth of the company.
LOUIS: What is your expectation from us, the METRO Potentials Trainees?
PASCAL: To learn by doing. To bring your energy and your ideas, to challenge the way we do things and to empower the teams you work with. At the same time, to receive the feedback and insights with humility that so many of our employees can give, to learn about yourself, about your strengths and your areas of progress, to learn from your shortcomings, always. This is something that I encourage my mentees to do for their entire career, not just for this programme.
CONSTANCE: What advantages do you see in entering the Wholesale Business through a trainee programme?
PASCAL: The wholesale business is a business that seems rather simple and straight forward. But to be good at it, you need to understand all its specificities. A trainee programme in wholesales gives you a competitive edge because it gives you an opportunity to discover the business from top to bottom. It allows you to develop a deep understanding of the reality of the activities and to discover how you can have an impact.
LOUIS: How do you see the future of business? How do you position METRO Potential Graduates in that future?
PASCAL: METRO has a lot of space to grow. Our brand and its position on the HoReCa and Trader wholesale business open a lot of opportunities for the company to develop its business even further. There are still untapped opportunities to become the partner of our customers. Bringing young METRO potentials on board will surely allow us to go further and to keep challenging ourselves always. The METRO potentials graduates are meant to unlock the potential of the company. They are here to make the company dream bigger.
CONSTANCE: What are for you the top 3 positive aspects of the METRO Potentials Programme, which are making the difference?
PASCAL: To only quote three:
The potentials' community: The METRO potentials' community is international and diverse. The regular trainings and activities reuniting the community is a great way to learn from your peers and get insights from different countries and markets.
Learning by doing: This programme allows you to become a leader by making an impact right from the start. The different projects you are working on during the programme, as well as the different teams you meet, and the countries you go to, are as many opportunities to take action and bring value to the company while learning every day on the job.
Mentoring: Having a mentor is a great way to get feedback, connections, and perspectives. Mentoring is one of the cornerstones of the programme. The relationship between mentors and mentees lasts long after the programme ends.
LOUIS: What is your advice for candidates/young talents applying to the programme?
PASCAL: To be ready to give as much as you receive. Entering this programme gives you access to a lot of learning opportunities, with our teams, with specific trainings, with the Potentials' community, and with your mentors. It means that you also have to give back and put your energy and your ideas to good use. Above all, our potentials are expected to be proactive at all times.
CONSTANCE: Is there any special memory that you can share between our mentor-mentee interactions?
PASCAL: One day, Constance and I were talking in a store where she was working and that I was visiting. We were talking so openly, as always, that she had to convince her colleagues for days that she was not one of my family members!
Louis and I always include a personal question in our meetings, so that we know each other better. One of our good surprises was to discover that, despite our age difference, we enjoy listening to the exact same music groups!