1- And three (women)…
This Friday 1er July, a few weeks before her 50th birthday, Estelle Brachlianoff will take over the general management of Veolia Environnement, which has just successfully completed its takeover bid for Suez. She succeeds Antoine Frérot, who will retain the chairmanship of the board of directors. She thus becomes the third boss of the CAC 40, with Catherine MacGregor at Engie and Christel Heydemann at Orange. The feminization of the flagship index of the Paris Stock Exchange is underway, but very slowly. The CAC 40 also has two presidents of boards of directors or supervisors: Barbara Dalibard at Michelin and Angeles Garcia-Poveda at Legrand.
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His name is pronounced gently: Brachelianoff and not Braklianoff. She sticks to it: it’s her maiden name. He is of Bulgarian origin, like his grandfather. However, she is not angry with Antoine Frérot for having always called her Braklianoff.
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Fifty years ago, the Ecole polytechnique finally opened its competition to women. Her mother, herself an engineer, never ceased to praise her daughter for the merits of Anne Chopinet, the first woman to march through the ranks of Polytechnique on July 14. “A family myth”, she says, that she ended up embodying: she is from the class of 1992, like Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. But more than Anne Chopinet, it was Claudie Haigneré, the astronaut, who made her dream as a child.
The two French water and waste giants, Veolia Environnement and the new Suez (the part that Veolia could not swallow to respect a minimum of competition on the French market), are now run by women. The boss of Veolia has an advantage over that of Suez: Estelle Brachlianoff has been in the business for seventeen years. Sabrina Soussan only joined him on the 1er february. Antoine Frérot prides himself on having prepared his successor well: they designed the Impact 2023 plan together, went through the Covid crisis, then led the assault on Suez. But its competitor, already much appreciated by its teams, will have a fresh, hyperpragmatic outlook, with no legacy to spare.
5. Gender equality
“If feminism is to promote diversity, to seek female talents to promote them, to advocate for women to study science, then I am a feminist”, she explains, while admitting that in her eyes all diversities count. Important point: she will be paid as much as her predecessor, or even a little more, because it had not been increased for a few years. Antoine Frérot earned 980,000 euros in fixed salary and 1.2 million euros in variable. The latter remaining president, he will go up one floor at the Veolia headquarters in Aubervilliers (Seine-Saint-Denis), and will leave his office. But the new boss is not rushing anything: she will move in the course of the summer.
Its first mission is to successfully integrate the entities after the takeover bid. Since January 18, the new Veolia has included 60% of the old Suez. Mainly foreign subsidiaries, France having been sold to institutional investors (the French funds Meridiam and the American GIP as well as the Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations) for reasons of competition. The group has more than 220,000 employees. Following the merger, Veolia changes dimension in the United States, Australia, Belgium or in the Hispanic world. She who has the reputation of being “stiff” will have to listen to create chemistry in a larger group.
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Having managed all of Veolia’s activities in the United Kingdom from 2012 to 2018 and chaired the Franco-British Chamber of Commerce, she is particularly fluent in English. But reluctantly, it will have to give up integrating part of Suez’s activities across the Channel. The British competition authority will soon give its verdict on the merger, but it does not hide that it takes a dim view of the reduction in the number of players. Veolia has therefore mourned the waste branch of Suez, which its former parent company already wants to buy.
She who started at Veolia by directing industrial cleaning, then cleanliness in Ile-de-France, now sits on the board of directors of Hermès. “Certainly, it’s not my world, but that’s why it interests me. I’m curious. And then, I find common points: we are in the long term, the duration. We attach great importance to people, we seek them out to train them, retrain them, we raise their skills, we take them on board. That’s what I like. »
9. Water stress
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This is one of her concerns and one of the environmental problems she wants to help reduce. “In June, half of the departments of France are already subject to water restriction orders, which usually does not happen before August, she observes. We have solutions by improving network management but also by developing the reuse of wastewater. » In Israel, we already reuse 90% of this water, in Spain 15%, in France, less than 0.2%. This is one of the areas where Suez, present in Spain, South America and the United States, drier territories than France, was ahead technologically, an advance recovered by Veolia, post-merger.
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10. Free time
Mother of two teenagers “who know how to press where it makes you react”, Estelle Brachlianoff manages despite everything to preserve time for her passions: reading and contemporary dance. She has just seen a show by Israeli choreographer Sharon Eyal at the Centquatre theater in Paris: she loved it. On the book side, it is more of a novel than a management essay! She has just finished “Klara and the Sun” (Gallimard) by Kazuo Ishiguro, British writer of Japanese origin who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2017 – “not my favorite”, admits this fan of Japanese culture. She also recommends the American novelist Nicole Krauss (“Dark Forest”, “The Story of Love”).