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Back to News 10/06/2013

Alumni Success Story - Vincent Glorion

Vincent Glorion, EMLYON Alumni, claims that "in North America we tend to be much more proactive."

The Director of Bergère de France in North America, Vincent Glorion, is a happy expatriate. The family business he works for has been selling wool to both the public and professional customers for more than 60 years.

Here below is his interview:

Bergère de France is a family business that has been trading in Quebec since 1976. How did you develop your distribution network across North America and did you encounter any specific difficulties?

Bergère de France did indeed take an interest in entering the international market very early on. We based our development on the concept of organic growth when we decided to seek success in the American market. We targeted three networks:  traditional mail-order, local yarn stores, which sell different brands and are the American equivalent of European haberdasheries, and e-commerce, with all the complexities of different currencies, languages, and frames of reference that that entails. Our activities across these three different networks are the daily challenges for our Quebec team, which is both multicultural and close-knit. We are proud of the progress we've made.

What are the main differences between France and Quebec in terms of managing a business?

There are some huge ones of course. The American management style is much more direct and very concerned with efficiency. We have to be really reactive and on the ball. When I arrived in Montreal in 2007, the team I was working with led me to completely review my skills and the working methods I had learned in France. Here, productivity, personal commitment, team spirit, and the ability to multitask are key. The people in Quebec have that 'anything is possible' mentality.

What did you take away from the visit of the French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, who visited Ontario and Quebec last March on an official visit focusing on the economy?

The Prime Minister wanted to meet an international trade advisory panel, of which I am a member, to better understand what is driving French industrial growth in North America. The economic diplomacy advocated by Laurent Fabius is an excellent concept, but in order for it to be fully successful, I think that more entrepreneurs from the elite French universities like EMLYON Business School should take on roles in key institutions, like embassies or other State-run bodies. During his visit the French Prime Minister had some very interesting meetings with local people of influence. I think that as well as Quebec and Ontario he was interested in the west of Canada, a region that is indeed currently experiencing a significant economic boom.

What advice would you give to graduates and current students of EMLYON who would like, as you did, to find success in new markets?

That's a difficult question to answer because, on the one hand, there are real opportunities, but there is also real competition from graduates from elsewhere. In any case, I think what is essential is the following:

  •  Learn to speak at least three foreign languages. Or even more, if, like me, you want to live abroad.
  • You have to treat export and international trade as a very serious project. You won't necessarily get good results overnight; you sometimes have to persevere for a long time before you start to have some success, especially in times of economic hardship and strong international competition.
  • You need support from loved ones and an awareness that sometimes, as it is the case for me, you often have to be absent. Not all families manage to get through long periods of separation.
  • You need to have a real thirst for discovery and, although French brands have considerable potential, don't take it for granted that they will appeal to everyone.
  • Make sure you have a good team around you. Long-term success in a foreign market will be easier to achieve if you have a competent team around you and if you invest in the right people.  Know how to get the right people for your team. 

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