Inspiring Woman in Fleet: Julie Meynard
“Inclusivity is good for both people and businesses”
Julie Meynard, Director of Arval’s International Business Office
Did Julie Meynard end up in the leasing business by chance or choice? Her first summer job was in a leasing company – chance – and there she found out she really enjoyed the operational leasing industry, so she pursued a career in it – choice. Her advice to young women wanting to do the same: “Anticipate, organise, and focus!”
Several members of Julie’s family worked in automotive, and “the car industry definitely is my passion”, she says. So she had some idea of the working environment she was getting into. And it’s one which is less testosterone-infused than it used to be.
“I don’t feel that I’ve faced any challenges specifically because I’m a woman in a male-dominated industry,” Julie says. “That could have been the case perhaps 20 years ago. But the operational leasing business today is much more gender-balanced.”
How much change has there been in the gender balance in the leasing industry?
“When I started out in this industry, in the previous century (laughs)… jobs for women were mostly confined to account management. Then, gradually, we have seen more and more women come into key sales and procurement management roles.”
How does that improved gender balance impact the business itself?
“It has been very positive, brought a new energy, and enhanced team spirit. In other words, it’s a real advantage for companies to have teams that are diverse – and not only in terms of gender, I mean in the broadest sense. A study by McKinsey, and several others, have proved that diversity is a key lever for improving performance, whether in terms of creativity, innovation, employee well-being, and more. So I’m sure that my male colleagues are greatly appreciative of having more women on the work floor (smiles).”
If I’m a CEO who wants to reap those benefits of diversity, how do I go about achieving it?
“Since inclusivity is such a key factor, I would advise you to define clear inclusivity targets, and to be fully convinced that this will have a highly positive effect on your company’s performance, on its level of creativity, and on collective intelligence.”
“Inclusivity is good for both people and businesses. But you need to spread the word. So, I would also advise you to spend some time to clearly explain the Why, How and What of your inclusivity policy to all managers. This way, you can get them on board to support the policy and reach your targets.”
While we’re asking for advice, which tips and tricks would you share with young industry entrants today to further their career?
“Be the engine of your own career. Be the energy you want to attract. Always be optimistic. Take risks. Carefully listen to advice. Never complain. Lead by example. And take very good care of your network, both internally and externally.”
Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give a young Julie Meynard, as she starts out in this industry?
“Dare, dare, dare! Don’t put limits on yourself and take risks! Quite often, we’re our own worst enemies, in particular when we limit or underestimate ourselves. Build trust, both with your managers and your colleagues. Set a clear plan for your professional career, and make sure to express your ambitions instead of always waiting for opportunities to be offered to you. And keep in mind that the sky is the limit!”
In your own career, what are the things that you are proud of?
“The fact that I had – and still have – the chance to work with awesome managers, who gave me their trust as well as fantastic job opportunities. And who’ve always made themselves available to train and coach me. I consider that a great mark of recognition.”
“I’ve felt similarly appreciated when I was asked to become a mentor in the Arval Talent Care programme. And, last but not least, when I was asked to join Arval’s Women In Action programme in 2020. Its purpose is to develop women’s talents, with individual coaching and mentoring by senior management.”
How did this impact your career?
“It’s given me the energy, motivation and inspiration to build my career plan, and to know where I want to be. Being recognised as a trusted and smart professional by colleagues, managers and clients gives you a lot of positive energy. And that’s the same for both men and women (smiles).”
Our society still expects more of women than of men: they have to manage their careers, and are expected to take the lead in their domestic roles – wife, mother, household manager. How do you deal with that challenge?
“Well, I raised my son as a single mum, while travelling a lot internationally and changing companies twice. So I can tell you: everything is possible. The key is to anticipate, to be extremely organized, and to always focus on your priorities!”
“Today, my partner and I are very complementary, and we take particularly good care that we keep a good balance between our family life and our jobs. That requires attention and discipline, as we both have international senior management positions.”
Final two questions, about inspiration. Who’s your hero? And what motto guides you?
“My hero is Josephine Baker. She was a pioneering jazz artist, a resistance fighter during the Second World War, and a mother who adopted and raised no less than 12 children! As for my motto: Begin each day as if it were on purpose.”