As CEO of Euronovia, Virginie Robin manages a team of consultants who work closely with laboratories, public institutions, and companies to obtain European funding for their research, innovation, and training projects.
She has been working for 15 years in this field and has gained a deep knowledge of European programs for research, innovation, and training. As a European project engineer and manager at CNRS, She has worked on more than fifty projects and has participated in the negotiations of EU programs at the Ministry of Higher Education and Research, in France.
In a very short time, Euronovia has become one of the top experts for organizations willing to develop their activities in Europe and at the International Level. They support research and innovation projects through a large range of services: grant application, administrative and financial management, communication and exploitation of results, training on European funding, etc. They are part of large networks, including those dealing with women entrepreneurship such as RoleModel Rebels.
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Table of Contents
Tell us a little bit about your current projects. What exciting milestone would you like to share with our readers? (Don’t hesitate to delve into your achievements, they will inspire the audience)
Virginie Robin: A few months ago, I was contacted by Petra Arends-Paltzer, founder of the Digital Davos Forum. She was in the process of launching the new platform to support women entrepreneurship, from Rolemodel Rebels. Petra asked me to be part of the network of mentors who support young women, helping them to network with successful Role Models who have the most diverse professional backgrounds. But that’s not it, she also asked me to kickstart the launch of the platform with a Masterclass on EU funding! I am very honored to give this Masterclass tomorrow to encourage women entrepreneurship!
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up?
Virginie Robin: Three years after creating my company, I decided to have a baby. This was a huge challenge for me, as I am the only shareholder and manager. We were a team of 6 consultants, based in Paris and in the South of France. They were all of equal status, I couldn’t name a manager or hire someone to replace me. Therefore, my maternity leave was a bit rocky, checking my emails every day and organizing meetings with my team at least once a week. When I came back to work, I wasn’t full-time like before my maternity leave, I had other priorities. It took me almost a full year to get back on a good track! It was a difficult time but I don’t regret a thing!
What are the most common mistakes you see entrepreneurs make and what would you suggest they do?
Virginie Robin: As I wanted to learn everything about entrepreneurship, I decided to do the maximum on my own. This meant for instance drafting my own payslips. It was a nightmare with the administration and took me loads of time. I also did all my accounting on my own for the first 4 years, which drove me crazy… I don’t regret learning and knowing things about accounting but I could have externalized these tasks before. Today, I have a part-time office manager from Officer and everything runs much more smoothly!
Is there a particular podcast you listened to, or business thought leader that you find helpful while maneuvering this pandemic?
Virginie Robin: My yoga class helped me a lot during the pandemic. In France, we survived 3 lock-downs, the first one being a total lock-down with only 1h to leave a house on a 1km perimeter. At home, I had to take care of my 2-year old daughter… and my business, which was a real challenge. I was lucky to have a friend who is also a yoga teacher (“Soupir et bâillements”) who sent me recordings of his classes. It really helped me to relax!
In your opinion, what makes your company stand out from the competition?
Virginie Robin: First of all, my company is led by me, a woman! Only 30% of CEOs today are women and it is even worse when you look at innovation consulting companies… That’s why I want to support women entrepreneurship.
Most of our clients come from the public sector, as I have worked previously in the largest research organization in Europe (CNRS) and at the French Ministry of Research. Most of my consultants also come from the public sector. We know how to talk to researchers and teachers!
We are a young and dynamic company, already used to working remotely as half of the team was already based outside Paris before the pandemic started. We are flexible and open!
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success?
Virginie Robin: My networking skills definitely helped me a lot, to sign my first contracts but also build solid partnerships and hire the right people. Today, we are involved in many networks, such as RoleModel Rebels, which open many doors!
Honesty as I only sign contracts for projects I personally believe in. I had the chance since the beginning to be able to make this choice since the first contracts came in quickly. I’d rather be honest than scare people off from EU funding!
Resilience as being a CEO means dealing with a lot of things, which are not always easy. From the financial pressure to dealing with bad recruitment, taking care of my team in difficult situations, coping with work and my personal life at the same time…
Being a CEO of the company, do you think that your personal brand reflects your company’s values?
Virginie Robin: I have always taken special care of personal branding and my company’s image. Networking is definitely a great asset for my company, I have always taken special care of my LinkedIn profile. Moreover, my company is a partner of EU projects on communication and dissemination activities, which makes it even more important!
What’s your favorite leadership style and why?
Virginie Robin: I would say coaching as I strongly believe in people. Even though they might not be at their maximum, they can learn. I’m always available for my team and open to pay for specific training if they see some skills lacking in their work.
We learn every day, I learn every day. I personally also have a coach, who’s been helping me for the past 4 years.
What advice would you give to our younger readers that want to become entrepreneurs?
Virginie Robin: Live your dream! Even though you might have not been destined to become an entrepreneur, you can try. And even if you fail, you will have learned a lot of things along the way. I studied History and EU project management at University. I worked in the public sector and had never ever been close to thinking I would have my own company one day! But I learned and I still learn every day. It’s a great journey!
What’s your favorite “life lesson” quote and how has it affected your life?
Virginie Robin: “Je pense que tout est possible à qui rêve, ose, travaille et n’abandonne jamais.” (Everything is possible for those who dream, dare, works and never quits) – Xavier Dolan
My dream was to have my own business, to take my own professional decisions, and to be free from hierarchy. I am working hard to make this happen and I believe I will never quit!
Larry Yatch, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Virginie Robin for taking the time to do this interview and share her knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Virginie Robin or her company, you can do it through her – Linkedin Page
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