"1 Woman, 1 Passion" podcasts - Episode #6: Emilie Vazquez, Founder of the Shack
Valérie Bokobza: Hello everyone. I am Valérie Bokobza, Head of Development Private Banking, and I am delighted to present a new episode of "1 woman, 1 passion". The objective is to share the story of an inspiring woman who is moving the lines. Today, I am hosting Émilie Vazquez. Hello Emilie.
Emilie Vazquez: Hello Valérie.
Valerie Bokobza: You are the founder of the Shack, an urban refuge in the heart of Paris, a third address between home and office. After an impressive career in the hotel and digital industries, you went on a road trip to the United States in search of new ideas. That's when you embarked on an entrepreneurial and family adventure. The Shack is a real success and is starting to grow. How did you go from being Head of innovation for the Accor Hotels group to creating a concept that supports new ways of working?
Emilie Vazquez: First, thank you Valérie for the presentation, I think I have nothing more to say about the Shack, it is very well said! How did we do it? Well, I've been working in the corporate world for a little over twenty years, in which I've seized opportunities throughout my life, and which have taken me from one position to another and from one company to another. So I've been with Accor Hotels for a little over ten years, managing all digital and e-commerce for the group. And in parallel to that, a few years before I left Accor Hotels, our great boss Sébastien Bazin had decided to launch a very interesting initiative called the Shadow Executive Committee, which was a sort of executive committee mirroring the real executive committee of the group. It was composed of the youngest talents in the company, identified and representative of all the functions that existed in the company, and whose objective was to come up with new ideas for the Accor Hotels group, to try to find new sources of growth for the future. And so, it was in this context that I was led to work a lot on the evolution of the expectations and lifestyles of the new generations entering the job market. We were very proactive in imagining new concepts for the group, new ways of consuming hotels, and then finally, I realized that when you are in a group of this size, it is true that innovation becomes a little complicated - at least, the deployment phases of this innovation, as we could say, the "make it happen". I was working like crazy, I was spending my time on planes, I had little time to see my family, my children - I have three very young children - so I also wanted to spend time with them and I said to myself: “if I have to work like crazy and not count the hours I put in my job, well, I might as well start my own business!”. And it is with the strength of all that I had seen and studied on the evolutions of lifestyles, uses, expectations and behaviors, that I imagined there was undoubtedly a concept of a place to be created and invented, a place that would be a little bit plural and hybrid, in order to succeed in matching these new expectations.
Valérie Bokobza: In the era of ultra-digitization, isn't the Shack's vocation to recreate links and encourage people to reach out to others?
Emilie Vazquez: Yes, completely. To go towards others and even to find oneself. I think that in times like these, first of all, with the excessive digitalization of the last 25 years, and then with what we have experienced with Covid over the last 18 months, I think that there is a kind of distortion of the social link that has taken hold. We are less in contact with each other, digital technology has taken precedence over many things. I'll give you a very specific example to explain this: today, how do you celebrate the birthday of your loved ones? Very often, you post a message on Facebook or you send a little text message "happy birthday". Well, it's nice, the intention is there, we think of each other at that moment. But, as far as I’m concerned, when my friends celebrate their birthdays, I prefer to call them. It will take me a little bit more time, but on the other hand, I think it's really important, especially for moments like this, to be able to be in contact with others. I like this example because it shows how digital has taken over everything. So, my ambition with the Shack is to say that digital should never be an end in itself; it is only a "means to". So, today we have a digital platform, which accompanies the client experience at the Shack. It exists to facilitate certain small things in my client experience at the Shack. But what makes the fundamental core of the concept, is what guided me in the elaboration of this concept and still today: it is the human relationship that will be established between our clients and my teams.
Valérie Bokobza: You are a woman who is passionate about human relations, which you put at the heart of your approach. How do you translate it into practice?
Emilie Vazquez: My objective at the Shack is to offer experiences. Today, we are all looking for experiences that will make a difference in our daily lives. So it's in this context that I work, in fact, and that I have developed a program with my teams that aims to offer these experiences to our clients. We have a program that allows us to offer, for example, evenings of live music, evenings with street-art workshops, mixology workshops - where we discover the world of cocktail making - wine and cheese tasting workshops, do-it-yourself workshops, jewelry creation, leather goods creation... Or even ukulele workshops, many things like that... So a lot of discovery workshops, with a purpose that is precisely to offer those little moments when we will live a little unique experience, somethinf out of the ordinary, which will allow us to be in the moment and to reconnect with our peers and with ourselves.
Valérie Bokobza: Thank you Emilie for sharing this with us, it was very interesting. See you soon for the listeners on Societe Generale Private Banking.
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