Role models: Catherine Pariset

Going after what you want

I started my career at a local French audit firm where I was involved in accounting, liquidation of companies and audit. After two years, I wanted to focus on auditing bigger companies and work in a larger firm so I joined Befec, which then merged with Pricewaterhouse. I was the first woman to be recruited in audit—there was just one other woman, who had an administrative role.

Building close relationships with clients

The partner who hired me gave me a lot of responsibility and autonomy early on, from which I learned a great deal. I learned how to develop good relationships with clients. I would discuss issues with them and came to know the directors very well. I dealt with a lot of people in senior positions, which helped me improve my abilities. Gradually, the partner saw what I could do and I was given increased responsibility.

Going after what you want

I’ve always had a lot of ambition and my entire family is very ambitious. I saw my family members as role models. I always wanted to be independent and have a good work-life balance. My uncle was a European Champion in Judo—he was also very ambitious and I admired that. I learned that when you want something, you have to take it and you must be driven.

Knowing what you want

My advice to other women is that you will succeed when you know what you want. I think many women are too frightened right now, but women can succeed, I have proven that. When your children are younger, you have to learn to say "no" instead of making the decision to leave the firm. Reduce your hours or do part-time. I was at home at 7:00pm when I wanted to be—because that is what I wanted, I made it happen.