Leadership in the City of Light, “Biz Magazine”


Paris, France – Romanian top managers who are entertaining the idea of a secondment in Paris need to be aware that the compensation packages, after taxes, are roughly comparable to those in Romania. The main benefits of a Parisian secondment are personal rather than financial, with most expats choosing the French metropolis for the pleasant lifestyle possibilities.

France is one of Romania’s biggest foreign investors: of the top 40 companies listed on the French stock exchange, more than 35 are already present in Romania. It is not just the major players that are focusing on Romania; a number of small and medium-sized companies are taking an interest, especially in the IT&C domain.

This overwhelming French presence in the Romanian economy should not be neglected, so it is important for Romanian managers at all levels to understand the French management school, whether they are top executives considering a two-year secondment in Paris, or middle managers who work frequently with French partners.

To find out more about the French style of management, the skills required of an expat in France, and the financial and non-financial benefits for expat executives in Paris, we talked to Laurence Maheo, Country Manager for France at Pedersen & Partners, one of the most important Executive Search companies in the world.

“The pay packages in Romania are comparable to those in France, so I don’t think there are financial advantages for expats in France. We have high income and salary taxes. You do get a good benefits package that includes housing and school for the children, but I am not sure if it is competitive with the packages available in Romania at the moment – the benefits certainly won't amount to a doubling of your salary, like they might elsewhere,” says Laurence Maheo.

“I think the main non-financial benefit of a Paris secondment is the lifestyle. Most executives who come to Paris choose the city for its gastronomy and tourism – there are so many places around Paris that are worth visiting,” added the Country Manager for France at Pedersen & Partners.

Although a move from Bucharest to Paris certainly looks very tempting at first glance, be aware that it will not necessarily be an easy transition. There are a number of differences between the French and Eastern European management styles. Everything is more "politicised" in France, and people are less direct than in Eastern Europe, where feedback is given and a dissatisfied manager will be straightforward about what needs to be improved. This is why French companies prioritise adaptability in their expat workforce, for the possibility of cultural clashes and misunderstandings is a serious concern. Furthermore, it is important to create your own professional network and understand the context – who the decision-makers are, and who can help you when needed. Communication skills are also necessary, as is mastering the French language. Not all French workers speak English, and many will expect to be able to speak in their own native language with management.

“Here in France, careers grow more slowly than in Eastern Europe, or even Asia or America. It takes a lot of work and commitment, but you will be promoted if you are good, if you work hard, and if you build a professional network that will support and help you develop within the company,” says Laurence Maheo.

Ms. Maheo continues, “It is crucial to have colleagues who support you and managers who help you develop. These are very important for promotion, along with a lot of work and high performance.” 

It is much more difficult to ascend to the top of the corporate pyramid than to reach middle management, as Marshall Goldsmith describes in his book “What Got You Here Won't Get You There”. In order to be considered for the CEO role, a position for which there will always be plenty of candidates, a manager must be a true "athlete" who excels at what they do, a real leader who is recognised as such by the team, and a successful player of political games.

“At this level, the leader travels constantly, works even harder, and is on call seven days a week. Most of the time it is the leader's energy, physical and mental health that make the difference. You must have the necessary ambition and motivation because it’s difficult, and a very tough job. You must want this role first of all, and you must then have the skills to do it,” concluded Laurence Maheo, Country Manager for France at Pedersen & Partners.

Laurence Maheo is the Country Manager for France at Pedersen & Partners. Ms. Maheo brings nearly 20 years of strong Executive Search experience, completing international board and C-level assignments within the Technology and Private Equity sectors across Europe, MEA and North American markets. Ms. Maheo has held senior roles with major international search firms, on the ground in the US and France. Prior to joining Pedersen & Partners, Ms. Maheo was a Partner with an international Executive Search firm with a strong focus on the Digital, Technology, Media, and Telecommunications sectors as well as Professional Services and Private Equity practices. Before entering the industry, she built her career with Tetra Pak as a Marketing & Sales Manager.

Pedersen & Partners is a leading international Executive Search firm. We operate 56 wholly owned offices in 52 countries across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia & the Americas. Our values Trust, Relationship and Professionalism apply to our interaction with clients as well as executives. More information about Pedersen & Partners is available at www.pedersenandpartners.com

If you would like to conduct an interview with a representative of Pedersen & Partners, or have other media-related requests, please contact: Diana Danu, Marketing and Communications Manager at: diana.danu@pedersenandpartners.com

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