“Being a woman allows us to see things differently”

At the beginning of the year, BOURBON set up an Diversity & Inclusion committee, dedicated to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion and multiculturalism within the Group. This committee defines strategic priorities, develops action plans and supports their implementation at all levels. As part of its work, we offer you portraits of women employees, both onshore and offshore, who share their experiences as women working in a traditionally male-occupied sector... Today, let’s meet Peggy Jeauneau, Country Sales Manager at Bourbon Mobility.

Could you introduce yourself in the way you'd like to be introduced?

Peggy Jeauneau: I'd like to be seen as I am and as I try to be: as accessible as possible, with the most professional answers possible, a referent in the organization. I think I'm an open-minded, professional person, with a certain level of expertise in my field. I sometimes have doubts, of course, but I try to address things as concretely and efficiently as possible.

What values are most important to you?

P. J.: Honesty and transparency, both in my personal and professional life.

You've been with BOURBON for many years. How have you experienced your career as a woman within the Group?

P. J.: Yes, I've been working for BOURBON for almost 18 years, and I've never felt that being a woman was a weakness. I've always felt that BOURBON offered me opportunities as I developed and learned within the company. So I don't feel that being a woman has influenced my professional career one way or the other. On the whole, I don't feel I've been held back in my progress, and I've been able to combine my professional, personal & family life without suffering. I don't think I could have made as much progress in my professional career as I have here. It's true that the maritime industry can appear more macho, but once you get past that, you realize that's not the case at all. It's been a great experience, and it still is today.

Without revealing any secrets, of course, in the exchanges and discussions you've had with other employees, do you have the feeling that your feelings are shared by all? Or have you heard from other employees who may have encountered difficulties themselves?

P. J. : Yes, I admit that during my career, I've been aware of cases of sexism and machismo which, I think, were prejudicial to the progress of the people concerned. At BOURBON, I've never had to deal with this type of behavior, either with close colleagues or with management. No doubt my sedentary status gives me a vision that may be very different from that of someone on board a vessel, for example, but at BOURBON in Marseille, if there have been abuses, they have been corrected very quickly and without ambiguity. The group reacted immediately to preserve or ensure respect for the position of my female colleagues who were affected.

As a woman, what personal or professional challenges have you had to face and overcome in the course of your work?

P. J.: There are indeed challenges, but they're not particularly linked to my position as a woman, more like the challenges you encounter in the professional world: continuing to learn, to understand, to adapt, in a world where BOURBON is, if not in perpetual renewal, at least in fairly regular evolution. It's more a question of learning and technical mastery. It's true that the maritime environment was unknown to me, so I had to learn to master it. You have to question yourself on a regular basis, but these challenges are not linked to my status as a woman.

A more intimate question: you have 2 children. How do you reconcile your professional and personal lives?

P. J.: When I joined BOURBON, I had to manage the schedules of my children, who were 8 and 10, and above all the distance, because I work 1 hour from where I live. Those were the challenges. I'd say there's always been a lot of goodwill at BOURBON. I don't remember being stopped from coming home for an emergency. To counterbalance the idea that the wife takes care of the children, well, no, sorry, it's actually my husband who took over, when the children had a little ache, it was him who went to pick them up, when I was too far away or not available.

Generally speaking, how do you see the position of women at BOURBON?

P. J.: I think women are treated in the best possible way, i.e. on an equal footing with men. I don't feel any unbalance in consideration, and we're treated at least as well as any of our male counterparts. It seems to me that we are present throughout the organization. This shows that we are not pushed aside, quite the contrary. I believe that with our different sensitivities, we really are part of the team. Being a woman allows us to see things differently. We're not better than our male colleagues, we just have a different point of view.

In your opinion, has consideration for women changed for the better over the years?

P. J.: Yes, it's true that there has been a real awareness for several years now. I really feel that in the beginning, this was perhaps less the case, even though there were already a lot of women in the sedentary population, including in management positions. It wasn't a question of ability to perform a particular function. Some women were even tougher than their male counterparts. We can all think of people who may have held us back in our careers. And when I think about it, I don't necessarily think of a male profile!

There's a tendency to say that as long as there are actions to be taken, there must be problems to be solved. At BOURBON, I have the feeling that we talk about it a lot, that a lot of points have been resolved, but it's important to keep talking about it. In recent years I haven't had the opportunity to hear about sexism issues; maybe it happens, maybe I'm in a bubble, but it feels like we've taken the lead on these issues and we're doing pretty well. I hope all the women have the same point of view as I do. And I really hope that every member of BOURBON's management is on the same model as those I've met.

What advice would you give to a young woman wishing to join the marine industry?

P. J.: As long as you like the industrial world, have an affinity for technical understanding and are curious, I think we all have a part to play in organization, including at sea, on board vessels. Every time I'm told about female personnel on board vessels, in officer positions, it's in a positive light. I think we bring a balance which is important, even in this professional environment which can sometimes be very harsh, but we have all the strengths. We also need to be more strongly represented at sea.

If you had the opportunity, what would you change in your daily professional life, in your work environment, etc.?

P. J.: Being by the sea, in Marseille, in a lively, cosmopolitan city, is very pleasant. Professionally speaking, I have nothing to say, I've always loved and still love what I do. I may have had opportunities to do something else, but I never wanted to. I think there's still a lot to learn with BOURBON, so I wouldn't change a thing. I'm not weary. You meet great people, you're in great fields.

In conclusion, your outlook is very positive, and you still seem very happy to be with BOURBON?

P. J.: Yes, still!