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Started from the bottom now we here: Hélène, VP HR

Meet Hélène, our VP HR, through this interview and plunge into her impressive trajectory before Ekkiden. Discover what made her join and the reasons why she stayed. A career path can take multiple twists and turns and that is how she ended up growing a complete department at a young company. And the rest is history!
 min read
Started from the bottom now we here: Hélène, VP HR

For a consulting firm like us, the HR part is at the core of the experience we want to give to our candidate, staff and consultants. That's why we decided to interview Hélène, Ekkiden’s HR vice president.

She is the chosen one who structured and put all the HR resources up on tracks. Overcoming big structuration and process challenges, she has an unusual professional track record. Let's follow her amazing path, from managing two people to more than twenty in only 3 years!  

Why did you choose to work in recruitment? 

In my first year of law school, I had the opportunity to do an internship. So I decided to apply for one in the HR department of a French national television channel, because I thought I might like it. And I did! Since I didn't know how to do anything, I handled administrative tasks and learned the rest directly on the job. Then, during my Master's degree, I continued with two more internships in recruitment.

Why choose HR? 

I love that conversations are always different, and through them, I am constantly doing a kind of psychological analysis of the individual. The more I grow, the wider my vision of possibilities becomes, and I enjoy playing this role which is like being a puppeteer, trying to guide people through the jungle that is a professional career.


What did you do before  Ekkiden? 

I worked in recruitment in Berlin, where I really discovered the field of HR outside internships. I worked for the leading company specialised in color pigments, pharmaceuticals, and biotech.

Then, I pursued my career in a start-up operating in cleaning service bookings where I started working on more generalistic HR tasks. After that, I moved from Berlin to Frankfurt and started to work for a hotel chain as an HR Business Partner. The growth was impressive: we grew from 1 hotel to 33 in 3 years! It was a lot!

My goal was to handle the retro-planning for upcoming hotel openings, determine the required staffing levels, recruit, induct, train and support the hotels that were already up and running. It was challenging for sure, but I had a blast and it confirmed that I wanted to work in HR!


How did you join Ekkiden? 

By chance, I had to return to France for professional reasons, and I applied for only one job, which I was lucky enough to get. It was a job as Head of Recruitment at Ekkiden. I met Geoffrey, the CEO, in Paris. He had a slightly eccentric style with his presentation slides, and I wasn't particularly fond of the consulting aspect. But Geoffrey's speech was all about 'let's write history together and come make an impact', and it somehow won me over. We've been working on this for three years now!


How did you become VP HR? 

I started as Head of Recruitment, and when I arrived, there was no one in the department. I hired two interns and together, we built up the department. 

In 2022, I was promoted to VP HR as my career at Ekkiden progressed along with the company's growth. As we had hired top talents, we needed to make sure to keep and develop them, because we chose to be focused on long term relationsips within Ekkiden. A value that never left us by the way!

Plus, as I had a strong background in HR, and I took on a wider role within the department. I was eager to evolve and take on new challenges, so I was delighted! Geoffrey always valued my inputs, challenging each other's ideas before making decisions was very useful and enriching!


How was Ekkiden at the beginning? 

It was (and still is) an ambitious project in which to evolve. But initially, it lacked structure, so it felt a lot like climbing Mount Everest in nothing but underwear! However, that perception changed  with the arrival of skilled, motivated and ambitious people. Working along with them made everything much simpler!

By the end of 2021, we had hired more than 120 people in just one year and gradually, things started to fall into place. We implemented sustainable solutions, optimised processes, and took a proactive approach to office development and consultancy. What seemed insurmountable and almost far-fetched at the beginning eventually became manageable!


What are the big differences between your work at the beginning and now? 

Initially, my role was more operational, with the mission of building HR foundations, acquiring talents and developing them into key players who could, with time, spread information within a structured and scalable environment. Now, my work has evolved to be more strategic and groupwide, focusing on recruitment and HR management, which I think is the fundamental cornerstone of any organisation.

What was your vision when you built the HR department? 

I had no specific idea on how to do it; the ultimate goal was to structure for scalability and long-term replicability. I believe I succeeded in recruitment at first, but not in HR yet. My vision now is to accelerate, automatise and humanise our processes to increase productivity, all while focusing on people's experiences for the candidates, clients and consultants.

What are the values guiding your management? 

Being kind, understanding, respectful, but firm. Saying yes to everything doesn't benefit everyone, so I strive to be fair. I try to let autonomy and trust but with an objective: empowering people through responsibility.

What are the main challenges that you encountered? 

There is a very delicate balance to find between ensuring the best experience for everyone and the well-being of the group. When dealing with human beings, it is challenging to maintain a personal and professional distance as it can be emotionally impactful. However, it is crucial to remain impartial and professional in my position! 

Today, what is the impact of HR on Ekkiden? 

I believe that recruitment and HR are at the core of any organisation's activity, contributing to both its growth and development. They play a vital role in ensuring stability, satisfaction, defining career paths and influencing the well-being of individuals, thereby driving overall growth. In particular in consulting!

What did you learn since you joined Ekkiden? 

Resilience, the ability to withstand setbacks, bounce back and keep going. And that there's always a solution to every problem!


What makes you go to work in the morning? 

Managing difficult situations motivates me to wake up every day, as each day brings new challenges. I advocate for strong values that resonate with me and strive to improve or provide enriching experiences to everyone in the team. It's about being richer in both personal and professional aspects of life. I also feel a sense of duty as my mission is to help people! 


Are you aligned with Ekkiden's values?

Integrity is essential to ensure that values shine at all levels. Respect and commitment are also important aspects. I wholeheartedly invest myself in what I do, and I find these values reflected in Ekkiden. I have a strong desire to see things through and complete what I start, and Ekkiden allows me to do it every day!


Did Ekkiden keep its promises? 

Without a doubt! And even surpassing my expectations. I consider myself fortunate, and I never imagined reaching this level of satisfaction!

What would you say to the Hélène who began at Ekkiden? 

It’s unreal, and you have no idea what you just dived into, but it’s the right decision. It’s going to be an unforgettable and an amazing adventure. Go ahead!

Are you interested in our team and values?

Discover insights from other members of our team here, or check out our About page!