The exciting thing about life is you never know where it will take you. Having recently started a new role, Jean-Louis Coste tells us all about the day he diverted his life to meaningful work for NGOs in Africa. It was a journey that would go on to influence his career path to this day!
A New Journey Living His Daily Goal
Jean-Louis Coste – or JLC as he prefers – joined us at our Rueil-Malmaison (Paris) site in 2017 in a human resources (HR) role and has held the position of talent aquisition manager for EMEA since 2019. Now, he’s embarking on a new journey as senior partner within our global Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) center of expertise. He says that hiring diverse talents has been his daily goal for years.
Transitioning from recruiting to DE&I is a logical and exciting step in my career path. Focusing on strategy and milestones to achieve DE&I goals is extremely motivating. Helping to make our company a greater place to work and grow professionally is really engaging for me.
Recruiting Health Workers to Fight Ebola Outbreak
Before joining us, JLC was working for recruitment consultancies in Paris. One day, 10 years ago, a private event derailed him from this career path.
It was a life changer. I suddenly got the feeling I had to do a much more meaningful job.
He quickly came to the decision that aid working was the right move. As a result, in 2012, he joined Doctors without Borders in South Sudan as HR coordinator for a year before moving to the Democratic Republic of Congo and West Africa where he recruited dozens of health workers and logisticians to fight the Ebola outbreak there.
Being able to see your modest HR role enable malnourished children to get treatment in hospitals or help mothers to give birth in safer delivery rooms… this “derailment” was really worth it!
Facing the Hard Reality Back Home
JLC spent four years working in the field for medical NGOs across six African countries and considers them “the most vibrant experiences” he has lived.
When he returned to France, however, he had to face a hard reality… that his time in the non-profit world had put him out of the game for a professional career in the private sector. He struggled to get back on track. But his network helped him “re-connect the dots”, and before long, he was invited to join PPG.
Helping Drive Change through Employee Resource Networks
JLC likes to think of DE&I as the “bridge between our business objectives and the people who make them happen”.
The DE&I team’s five-year strategy is focused on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion to drive positive outcomes for our colleagues, customers and communities.
How better to succeed than working among diverse teams in the best possible inclusive work environment?
JLC at a diversity conference organized by Women's Leadership Network in Brno, Czech Republic, in 2019
He’s enthusiastic about our eight Employee Resource Networks (ERNs) and sees them as “real game changers” when it comes to boosting diversity within our company. JLC is in fact a proud member and ally of our LGBTQ+ ERN.
It is amazing how much we can achieve together through ERNs. There is space for everyone and allies are more than welcome. Be curious, join and be part of a great change!
Embracing Diversity On Every Level
JLC is proud to say that even his family is diverse! He is French and he met his Canadian wife in South Sudan. Together they have a boy (three and a half years old) and a baby girl (five months). But JLC also has two boys from his first marriage (15 and 18 years old).
Embracing two families, mixing Canadian and French cultures, speaking two languages at home… yes I feel some diversity there too! Life made it happen.
JLC recommends anyone starting out in their career should get as much diverse experience as they can during their first years.
No matter what you aim to do, enjoy experiences abroad. Learn from other countries and other people. Feed yourself with foreign cultures and values. There is nothing richer than embracing diversity of all kinds when you are young.