Entrepreneur Marguerite Bérard and Sam Davies trace their path in the bank and on the water

Marguerite Bérard and Sam Davies trace their path in the bank and on the water

Marguerite Bérard and Sam Davies evolve at first glance in two universes that are in many respects very distant. What can a bank manager, at the head of France’s leading retail bank, and a sailor, holder of a record of 27 transatlantic sailing races, three round the world voyages and a 4and place in the Vendée Globe in 2009?

Marguerite Bérard and Sam Davies obviously share a resounding success in traditionally male sectors.

“They dared” with Marguerite Bérard and Sam Davies

Driven by family heritage

Their strength, they have above all drawn it from their family roots. The figure of the grandfather imposing himself for each of them as with an example to follow. From then on, they were able to chart their own course, each in their own way.

Marguerite Bérard, graduated major of the ENA, is part of the third generation of enarques of her family. She dedicated a book to her grandfather, a Russian Jew born in Rovno in Ukraine in 1903, and to his crossing of Europe in the XXand century. A volunteer in the French army during the Second World War, he “taught her the love of France and courage in the face of hardship”, she says. His career requires him. “With this book, I paid a family debt. A story that resonates strangely with current events. »

As for Sam Davies, she learned to walk on a boat, sailing with her parents off the south coast of England. She is the third generation of sailors in her family. “My grandfather was a submarine commander at the age of 26 during the Second World War. He survived. I often reread his memoirs for inspiration and I then put my damage during my races into perspective. His example carries me,” she explains.

Win the race

Marguerite Bérard now directs the 25,000 employees of the commercial bank BNP Paribas, after having been adviser to the Elysée Palace of Nicolas Sarkozy, then director of the ministerial cabinet before becoming number two in the BPCE group. “My parents have always had the same ambitions for my brother, my sister or myself. I’m sure education makes the difference. I also go to colleges to talk about girls’ entrepreneurship. »

She admits to being in favor of quotas on boards of directors and management teams. “The lack of diversity of gender, age or origin creates perception biases among those who represent the majority and inhibitions among others,” she adds.

For her part, still an engineering student at the University of Cambridge, 21-year-old Sam Davies does not hesitate to contact her idol, navigator Tracy Edwards, then looking for girls for her crew. She is selected. “I can say that my life changed that day. In 2020, despite keel damage in the southern hemisphere at the Vendée Globe, Sam Davies finished his non-race round the world trip with his boat “Initiatives-coeur”, in support of the association Mécénat Chirurgie cardiac. The latter allows children suffering from heart defects to come and have surgery in France. “I’m a skipper and I wanted, despite my failure in the Vendée Globe, to save children,” she admits.

Sam Davies believes that, on board, “it’s not physical strength that makes the difference, it’s mental strength, because a race is long”. She strives with her technical team to find innovative solutions that multiply the loads to avoid exhaustion. “Often these solutions are copied by male sailors afterwards,” she says with a smile. Sam Davies is already preparing her boat for the Vendée Globe in 2024. The sailor dreams of becoming the first woman to win this competition.

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