Patricia Moerland : when diversity means business … with a woman touch

Patricia MOERLAND is a French business women I met a couple of years before via her business network – Diversitelles. She is an energizing women that promotes the cause of diversity in business with a woman touch. She has kindly accepted to give us this interview. Who is Patricia Moerland?

From a French West-Indian family of Guadeloupe and Martinique, Patricia Moerland was born in the Pays de la Loire, 52 years ago. After Anglo-American Bachelor of Arts university studies, she is graduated in Master’s degree in Information Systems. She settled during almost 10 years in various European countries: England, Germany, Italy as a teacher of French as a foreign language.

Then she started a managing career of about 20 years, in the fields of company communication ( Customer Focus Prize 1991 N.Y), financial markets in France and business consulting in the Netherlands.

As the question diversity in the workplace in France and in Europe was in the center of her concerns, it is quite naturally that she created APROBEE in 2007. Her consulting company is focusing on coaching intercultural and sustainable projects and offering services intended to accompany and to promote diverse people entrepreneurship as well as all types of companies.

In 2008, especially for women, she founded to DIVERSITELLES which aimed to create bridges between all those who start up; particularly in concepts with strong societal imprint. It is the beginning of a long route of rehabilitation for the place of the « Diversity  Women » in the business world and the economy.

Sandrine JOSEPH – SJ As a woman in business what are your most memorable successes?
Patricia MOERLAND – PM
– The most memorable moment was in 1991, when I won an award for a special customer focus action and my involvement in the deployment of the French version of a Direct Access product in collaboration with the marketing Department. It  was a forerunner to decide myself to become my own boss.
The key of my success probably consists in my capacity to build bridges between people :  they can work together whatever their cultures. The 15 people multicultural project team I composed and lead during more than ten years is one example. But honestly, even if I already achieved a lot, I think that the biggest successes of my young career of entrepreneur are not yet there :  this is probably part of my character to consider that things are not yet done. As a long distance runner, I would just say that I’m well underway. Will I ever confess success? Probably never, that’s what leads me.

SJ –  Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Why did you decide to address the women’s leadership as both a business and a societal cause?
PM –
I would say that it was written : since I’ve won this award,  I understood that I would be able to run my own business. I discovered myself as an intrapreneur, this was my tipping point.

I may be too “justice oriented” not to think about how the world runs around me and why not everybody has got a “share” in it. All the same, the enterprise led me to get involved in representing employees and managers during the tough times of their carrier. That’s where I discovered the bad side of the business world. This was the real starting point of my engagement; I wanted to persuade myself, and was almost sure, that there was another way to make business and to run a company. It took me two years to give shape to my plans.

SJ – You created the Diversitelles Awards : how did you come long this idea? Who were the first winners?
Through my company Aprobee, I’m coaching and accompanying among others, women’s start-up projects; this led me to develop the Internet Platform Diversitelles that now counts 260 women entrepreneurs or project holders.
It aims to bridge the gap of the lack of visibility. Some women cumulate discriminating criteria, leading them not to find their real place in the companies (age, skin colour, origin, handicap …)
That’s why I decided to launch the “Diversitelles Business Awards” on the 8th of March 2010; I call it the “cherry on the cake”. I also did it to honor those women who will never have the chance to participate to a contest. The awards aims to honoring the entrepreneurial dynamics of all women who create or bear a project with strong societal imprint and to reward the originality, the opening on the world, the economic opportunity of 3 matured projects and 3 companies of less than three years in 4 domains: well-being of the person – Ecodevelopment – Usage of the technologies – artistic expression.
In October 2010, 6 women were rewarded:

Nabéla Aïssaoui : “La Conciergerie Juridique” is the 1st LEGAL PLANNER ® Agency in France. It aims to ease and organize the legal and administrative affairs of the individuals and companies.
Anne Leroy : “Bacchus and Co” is an at home concept of free testing and selling of biodynamic wines of France, Italy and Spain.

Sandrine Perrin : La Bonne Fée. This paraplegic solo mom created “La Bonne Fée”, a relooking company for sick and disabled persons.

Marianna Payovich “La Passerelle des Mondes” is a start up project of biosourced products for the plastic arts to replace the currently used synthetic resins of fossil origin which are highly toxic and energy consuming.

Florence Lesafre “Trankilitel” is a telephone service taking and reporting news between isolated old persons and their children living too far away from one another.

Clarisse Libene “Belle Bene” is an e-shop of hair care products for afros, curly, frizzy, wavy and uncurled hair with a testing club and a counseling blog.

SJ  : You seem to be opened to other networks, how do you succeed in mastering in this equilibrium?
PM :
Yes indeed, a network is always an intersection of many other networks otherwise it has got no sense and could present sectarian characteristics. Diversitelles is partner with other networks such as Outremer-Network where myself and other West-Indians feel close to. I would say that the equilibrium is found naturally as long as you benefit to one other and grow keeping your network identity. Women networks are flourishing and that’s very positive for us all. I like when my network is seen as a potential partner rather than a threat but if so, this is still the sign that I am doing well.
How do I manage this? With the benefit of my age and experience, I never look aside, always keep going on my track and believe in it.

SJ :  You are a business woman, a mother:  how do you succeed in mastering in you work life balance?
: Quite naturally, I would say. I have never been a mother-hen. My son will be soon 14 (times goes so fast). I so often crossed the boarders, between our family and working spots, with him … sometimes on the back seat. The photography I have on most of my profiles has been shot by him, that’s a sign that he is bearing with me.
I have another man around, which I must confess, considerably helps keeping in balance.
I am now used to reconsider my working and business choices to adapt them to my expat family life; how difficult times may be, I always take those as new challenges.

SJ :  If you have some advices to provide to the women and men that might read this article, what they will be?
PM : To women, I would say:  never be afraid to lose anything because as women you will sometimes have to start from scratch … there is still a long way to go … and because of this, never forget to stick together.
To men, I would say: thank you very much in advance for seriously considering what stands above and always keep ready to roll out the red carpets.

Her web presence

Approbee – Coaching company

Diversitelles – Business network for women

Poto Mitan

About Poto Mitan

Sandrine Joseph is a digital communications, social medias strategist and practionner. She is also a Diversity advocate. She is the editor of PotoMitan blog that promotes women in corporations.


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