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Brigitte Gouarin, "Change & Optimization" Practice Leader: “Live each day as if it were the last, so as not to find out at the time of my death that I had not enjoyed life”.

Brigitte Gouarin has been a consultant in the financial services industry for over 20 years and now works at Talan in New York. She constantly challenged herself in contact with different cultures and working environments. Ambitious and focused on solidarity and mutual assistance, she is also very much in demand to support women and expatriates in their career in the United States. Portrait of this woman from Talan with boundless energy.

Dublin, Paris, Luxembourg, London, Jersey (Channel Islands), New York. At every stage of her frenetic international life, Brigitte Gouarin has been able to seize opportunities in different working environments, professions, and cultures, while developing her network. Specialized in the management of IT and business transformation programs and in change management, she says it loud and clear:

"Change is what drives me. Whether it is helping clients to overcome new challenges through implementation of strategic IT/business transformation projects or travelling abroad to experience another culture, I’m passionate about learning from new experiences and sharing. This passion is why I’ve worked as a consultant in the Financial Services industry for the past 20 years. with a focus on new challenges, innovation, learning and growth. 

 

Nothing enchants this curious and persevering woman more than venturing out of her comfort zone. Management of strategic, complex, and multi-jurisdictional projects and programs, review and modeling of business processes, support for clients in the definition and implementation of their nearshoring/smart sourcing strategy, conduct of audit assignments, and support for organizations in the appropriation of change.

Throughout her varied and stimulating professional experience, Brigitte has become a master in the art of making an organization more agile and efficient. “I was able to reinvent myself, adapt to different [work] environments for which I had no legitimacy in terms of expertise, and deliver results beyond my clients’ expectations. ", she explains. She who “knew nothing” about the logistics of flows between France, Jersey and Guernsey in the maritime field, life insurance or securitization, “succeeded in mastering these challenges in depth, always relying on the experts”.

Claiming a need for understanding and meaning in her professional life, she does not hesitate to ask a multitude of questions during meetings: “No one has infused science. We are a team, we are here to collaborate and help each other”, she stresses out. For each project, she goes into an “unparalleled” level of detail and planning to properly master the different topics, understand the business challenges and issues, identify, and qualify the constraints, which leaves “very little room for the unexpected”. Her secret ingredient? Passion, which allows you to “get involved, go beyond your limits, build your skills very quickly and bring as much added value as possible.”  

 

A mentor for women and expats

With Talan in the United States for 4 years, in an environment that is still predominantly male, she considers that “women have as much chance of succeeding and of accessing the functions they desire”. However, “many of them are reserved and think that by working hard, they will eventually be rewarded. They adopt a "wait and see" attitude. Which is a mistake: with equivalent skills and performance, they will not necessarily be valued”, reports Brigitte, who swears by “baby steps”. She thus positioned herself as a mentor to help them “be more independent, be more assertive, be ambitious and be more proactive in managing their career”.

As a consultant, she believes that “the main thing is to learn from your mistakes, and to listen more to your clients to support them in the appropriation of the change. “Human qualities that she finds more often in women, where men seem to be “more in the balance of power”.

 

Within the group, Brigitte appreciates the inclusive environment that promotes enrichment through differences and develops openness, tolerance, curiosity and communication skills. “Everyone has their place in it.  

She mentions an assignment with an Indian provider – “one of the most beautiful experiences of my life”, despite extended working days due to the 11-hour time zone difference and the split of the project teams across several locations in Paris/Nantes, New Delhi/Bangalore, and New York. “Immersion in another culture, very different from mine, taught me a lot. I sacrificed a lot of time, energy, and effort to deliver on time, on budget and within quality constraints.  But it was undoubtedly one of my greatest human and professional adventures.»  

 

The importance of the network

When she arrived in New York in 2014, Brigitte took on the services of a coach to improve her posture and prepare well for job interviews. “In the United States, the accumulated experience within other low-level foreign organisations is not validated. What matters in the United States are “transferrable skills”, in other words competences. As good pragmatists, the Americans expect you to be operational from the first day of your arrival.

From her experience, “performance is necessary but not sufficient. It is very important to devote enough time to "networking", seeking to surround yourself with the right people who will form a natural gateway to new opportunities.  Having gradually become known within the French-speaking community in New York, Brigitte has worked extensively with associations and expatriate networks, including Accueil New York (ANY), the Franco-American Chamber of Commerce (FACC), to organize work sessions, share her experience as well as "best practices", explain the "game’s rules" to newcomers, and start her mentorship : "only "transferrable skills" count, as well as the experience accumulated on the American ground, regardless of the quality and the number of experiences accumulated abroad". 

For her, “the consultant must be a Swiss army knife, capable of adapting to his/her environment, of challenging the client, supporting him in the definition and design of a tailor-made solution, while grasping or even creating new opportunities”. 

This business school graduate created her own “Change and Optimization” practice at Talan North America.

 

This practice is structured around 3 pillars:

  • project/program management
  • change management
  • operational efficiency, notably through:
    • automation of manual tasks, time-consuming and low added value (RPA /IA)
    • supporting clients in defining and implementing their nearshoring/smart sourcing strategy
    • review / re-alignment of the target operating model with the Business Line's ambitions. 

I have unexpected leeway: when I want to take initiatives, it’s up to me to implement them”, she explains, praising the group’s “very entrepreneurial” spirit. Whether as part of the development of the Talan North America brand, through the establishment of partnerships with American universities, or as part of the organization of numerous “Lunch & Learn” / “Lunch & Share” sessions in order to promote the sharing of knowledge among the consultants, the management of Talan has always been at my side to encourage and support me in the execution phase.

 

Her motto: “Make things happen”.

 

Brigitte now aims to develop her "practice", acquire new skills and contribute to the group's development: welcome new consultants, gain market share, develop the feeling of belonging among consultants and make them to growing up…

“At Talan, we believe that when consultants get the support they need to thrive, they engage more and get more results. In fact, this is the foundation of our entire business strategy. Because consultants have the opportunity to develop certain areas of expertise, they can invest more in their daily assignment with clients, while developing personally. Our mission is to nurture the next generation of leaders, and we partner with our consultants to create a stimulating and fulfilling environment full of opportunities for growth and development.”