Meet recognizd’s founding team: Alison Eastaway & Florian Lonqueu-Brochard.
A: We’ve known each other for what, three years now? We have lots in common, but also plenty that we disagree about. Should we start there? Tea or coffee?
F: Tea, definitely! For you it’s coffee, I know :)
A: Absolutely. I’m Australian, flat whites are like oxygen to me. Countryside or city?
F: Countryside! I’m definitely a lover of the great outdoors. Even though I like the cultural and social life in the city, my dream is to settle in the countryside on an old farm with an orchard. You?
A: City, 100%. I love to be in the middle of the action and I’m comforted by the pace of a big city. But, I take seaside breaks a few times a year. I need to see the water regularly to feel good. Beer or wine?
F: It’s so hard to choose. I was really into the wine world for a lot of years but then I developed a fascination for craft beers, especially with the huge proliferation of French breweries in recent years.
A: Yeah, same for me - I own a wine store in Paris, so I’m spoiled with opportunities to taste great wine, but it’s more common to find me with a cold beer if I’m drinking socially. Speaking of beer, you brew your own, Flo, right? Do you think any of your software engineering skills were helpful when you started making beer?
F: Yes, I’m even a certified brewer! I took a break in my engineering career to properly learn and practice brewing. It was fun to see how I brought my engineering practices into the beer making process. Data-driven experimentation, process optimizations, automation, etc we’re all super relevant to brewing. And you were a HR Director, and then opened a wine store, what do those two things have in common?
A: Honestly, more than you might think. I like to say that I didn’t need to learn any new skills to open the wine store. Actually that’s not strictly true, I did watch a YouTube video about how to wrap wine bottles neatly in a sheet of tissue paper (harder than it looks!).
But the core skills needed to run a wine store are the ability to: build rapport with others, give advice, use software programs, pay attention to detail, and carry boxes of wine. All except that last one are directly transferable from the job of HR Director.
F: I know you don’t like the term “soft” skills, so how would you categorize these transferable skills?
A: I think we’ve really done ourselves a disservice as an industry with the term soft skills. It makes them sound lesser, or easier to acquire somehow. The way I see it, soft skills are just the hard skills of another job.
I think instead that jobs are made up of: core skills and bonus skills. So in my wine store example, carrying boxes would be a bonus skill, but if I were a weightlifter, or a paramedic, or a construction worker, carrying heavy things would be a core skill.
Let’s talk a bit more about careers - how would you describe your own career in a few words?
F: Classic with exciting detours!
A: For me I’d say: Non-linear. Fulfilling. Just getting started!
I feel like when people think of career shifts they often think only of the most radical changes, but a career move could be as simple as leaving a large corporate for a small business, changing roles within an organization or moving countries to do the same job. Flo, you left your native France to work for Amazon in Canada - what was that experience like? Any advice for someone wanting to do the same?
F: I wanted to live closer to nature without losing the convenience of a big city. Vancouver seemed to be the perfect fit for that by being surrounded by mountains and by the sea (spoiler: it was!). Living in a different culture and working for a big five company was a first for me. The experience helped me grow so much, both personally and professionally.
To anyone hesitating, just do it, even for a short period of time, it will bump you out of your comfort zone but it's so rewarding! And you, you left Australia when you were, what, 19 years old? You didn’t speak French or know anyone over here - that’s brave!
A: I don’t think I thought it was brave at the time, I think I just knew I wanted to be closer to the action, experience a new culture and eat all of the cheese.
I’d been working since I was 14 years old in Australia, so I figured getting a job in Paris couldn’t be too hard. And it wasn’t for the most part. I don’t have a university degree (which makes me very uncommon in France) and I think I’ve been rejected without an interview for 90% of the jobs I’ve applied for, but I always managed to convince that one person to give me a chance. I think about that a lot, how so much of our career success comes down to that: the chances we are given. Do you remember any one person that took a chance on you in your career?
F: When I was a student I was looking for an internship. By chance, I came across a video of someone doing a conference on stage. It was so inspiring that I said to myself, I want to work for this guy. And I wrote to him saying exactly that. He was not looking for an intern but he liked my boldness and accepted me. He became my mentor and shaped, without really knowing it, my entire career. How about you, do you remember the first dollar you ever earned?
A: I think it was either $2 (an Australian “gold coin”) for sweeping the garden path after my father mowed the lawn or possibly a sale from an Australia Day art gallery my sister and I held - we drew pictures of Vegemite jars and Australian animals and “invited” our family to attend. I guess you could say that was my first entrepreneurial experience! Last question for you Flo, why recognizd? What is important to you about our mission / the product we’re trying to build?
F: I think we spend so much of our lives at work that it should bring something more than just a paycheck. For too many people, work is an alienating experience. With recognizd we’re changing that, bringing greater sense of purpose and fulfilment to our users. And that makes me very happy.