Shattering the Glass Ceiling in the French Food Industry

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Editor’s Note: CommPRO reached out to our global community, seeking perspectives about International Women’s Day.  We appreciate this post from Martine Pelier, managing director of Active International’s Paris office and a newly inducted Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor.

No one knows the French food industry quite like Martine Pelier. Working in a country celebrated for its cheeses, wine and bread, she has spent the past 25 years in the food industry, primarily in marketing and sales.

“No matter where in the world you are, as a woman, you can’t go at it alone,” explains Martine. She learned this first hand while serving on the management board of a major multinational food and beverage provider. Initially the sole female member, Martine recalls the constant uphill battles she had to fight in order to promote other women. Today, Martine supports how women are highlighted within the fabric of the French economy through organizations like PWN (European’s Women’s Network Paris) and EWBR (European Women Board Ready).

For Martine, International Women’s Day symbolizes another lesson she’s learned along the way to success. While working as a team is important, it’s also important to stand up for what you need and believe in. As Martine explains, “It’s easier said than done, but the best lesson I’ve learned over the years is how to balance a team with my own individual goals and aspirations. Fortunately, I’ve met several inspiring women in my career who have taught me that you can be a team player and an individual at the same time. The two are not mutually exclusive.” In recognition of Martine’s professional and personal efforts for the French economy, she was recently inducted as a Knight of the French National Order of the Legion of Honor. The first woman was decorated in 1851 and today 10% of the legionnaires are women.

Martine continues to apply what she’s learned to her current role with Active International, the global leader in corporate trade. In her role as Managing Director of the Paris office, Martine looks for opportunities to promote diversity—whether that be in terms of viewpoints or gender, religion, age and ethnicity. As Martine sees it, this approach builds the strong team foundation that can simultaneously support the needs, wants and goals of its individual members.