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This year my blog is dedicated to interviewing leaders and subject matter experts to help promote healthier work-life balance. With any luck this will enable us to create better relationships, productivity and performance. I am convinced that this is an idea that needs to reverberate from the top and therefore will devote this year focusing on just that.

This month, I have been lucky enough to interview the brilliantly talented Nicolette de Joncaire. Nicolette joined l’AGEFI in December 2010 as a journalist, specialising in economic and financial affairs. Since summer 2012, she is chief editor of WORK, a magazine focused on women's achievements, www.workmag.me. She is keen to reiterate that WORK is not for women but refocuses attention on women. With over twenty-five years of business experience in finance and Information Technology, Nicolette has held various management positions and is a regular speaker on the topic of Risk.

I really hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did.


Sunita Sehmi: How did you get to where you are today?

Nicolette de Joncaire: I was in the banking industry for many years in London and then I decided to move to Geneva in 2002 to be closer to my extended family.

SS: How and why did you become a journalist?

NDJ: I wanted to do something different from banking…I did not have much journalistic experience but I did have extensive financial systems experience, so I knew what I was talking about. When I decided to choose a new career path, I contacted ten newspapers and got two replies. One of the replies was for a possible position at AGEFI. At that time AGEFI was the only business economic paper in the area. I was very lucky and was put on a two-weeks trial. It really made me realise just how open-minded the Swiss are, giving me an opportunity like that with no previous journalistic experience. I don’t think that happens everywhere.

SS: What is WORK magazine about?

NDJ: I was asked to be Chief Editor for WORK. WORK is a magazine in French for businesswomen, because women are underrepresented in business media. My original mandate was to create a “light” magazine for women. But I was determined to make it a very serious magazine, and not another frivolous one. I wanted to take a completely different angle. The assumption being is that society has moved on. We are 50 years down the line and still talking about equality. The legal framework for equality is in place and yet we are still complaining. I believe that the media has a very critical role to play and unfortunately still maintains an image of women, which is extremely out-dated. It portrays women on the basis of their looks and as consumers and not on their achievements. Women who are achieving incredible things are getting very little exposure. We are lacking strong successful female role models in business, sports, sciences, and art, in brief in all areas. BUT women are very visible in the feminine press. So here at WORK, we focus on content and emphasize on exceptional female role models. We want to raise consciousness of women’s achievements and not looks and fashion. One can’t expect to sell millions of copies of my type of magazine but some key people believe in us and support our vision.

SS: In your opinion why are people finding it hard to balance work and life?

NDJ: I may be very controversial but I don’t believe that work/life balance is such a huge issue. Life is about passion. And so is work. Make this the centre of your life and all falls into place. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn't care for your family but you can do both; it’s just a question of how you manage it. I am still unsure as to what people are talking about when they discuss work/life balance and I am not being facetious. It seems like a “disease” that exists in the wealthy nations. I think to be happy at work and at home you need to make sure that you are getting recognition from both sectors and not just one.

SS: All the literature tells us to communicate with more compassion and more empathy but how can we practice that in the work place?

NDJ: Mmmm.. I am really concerned about the “tyranny of nice” and the damage it is doing. I really don’t understand why this is being discussed in business media. Good leadership and management decodes that we should behave and respect one another. Being decent at work is normal not exceptional! We all need to remember that!

SS: Could you share some of your strategies that we could use to keep more balanced?

NDJ: I always have lots of back up plans!

SS: What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?

NDJ: The best two pieces of advice that I have ever received were from my father:
 “Have a serious career; you never know who’s going to bring up your children.”
“Always be prepared.”

SS: Describe a situation that frustrates you.

NDJ: The women I interview have done it all, there are few challenges left for them as they are on top of their game. There are those women who want to and can be the chief of police, CEO of large organisations etc.  And then there are those women who choose to stay at home. This is the group whom I am more concerned about from an economic perspective. The work performed by stay at home women has never been economically quantified. We all look at these women very differently and that in my mind is discriminatory.

SS: What's the next challenge for us?

NDJ: I think the new generation of women has it slightly easier. I am not convinced that they appreciate how lucky they are. They have so much more freedom, autonomy and independence than their predecessors. Therefore, I truly believe it is especially important for these women to dare and take up challenges. Like many women I probably took more risks over my career than a man with the same qualification and at same level. Subsequently I want to remind the new generation of women that they are lucky, be careful not to waste opportunities and pay attention it could all slip away….

SS: What's next for you?

NDJ: Don’t know what’s in store for me tomorrow. Today is enough! Tomorrow seems like a century away!

AGEFI: Quotidien des affaires et de la finance, www.agefi.com
WORK Magazine, www.workmag.me

Nicolette was a partner at Arubis Sarl where she was responsible for the financial systems consulting practice. Previously, she was Product Marketing Director at System Access, in charge of marketing their flagship product, Symbols. She is also the former European Representative of Trading Edge, an Internet high yield bonds brokerage firm; and maker of BondLink, the first web-based, high yield bond exchange.

Prior to joining Trading Edge, Nicolette was with Credit Suisse First Boston as Director responsible for Global Reference-Business Processes and Technical Architecture, as well as the management of the Corporate Data Warehouse. She was previously Head of Information Systems for San Paolo Bank in London.

Nicolette holds an MSc in Economics from the University of Paris. She lives near Geneva with her family.


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Sunita has a passion for helping individuals, teams and companies to maximize their potential. With over 20 years experience both in the UK & Switzerland, she created Walk The Talk, with the sole aim, to help professionals improve their Business Communication Skills. She is of Indian origin but was born and raised in Britain before she moved to Geneva in 1991. She has a Psychology background, (specializing in Occupational Psychology) and a Post Graduate in the Development and Training of Adults from the University of Surrey. Furthermore, she recently completed a Masters of Advanced Studies in "Gestion des RH et des Carrières," (Specialising in Career Management and Coaching), at the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchatel & Fribourg. 

Having successfully worked and operated in different cultures and languages, Sunita's strength lies in her ability to totally empathize with her clients and help them to perform their best.