Advisory in corporate governance and the recruitment of Board directors 

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Aliath feedback on the last events of 2012 celebrating entrepeneurship

Aliath feedback on the last events of 2012 celebrating entrepeneurship

During the 2012 year-end period, Aliath attended four major events in the world of entrepreneurship in France: the SME Let’s Get Moving Trophies (22nd October), the Ernst & Young – L’Express Entrepreneur of the Year Award (25th October), the BFM Awards (12th November), and the La Tribune Women’s Awards (3rd December). Aliath also attended the annual convention of the Association of Independent Professional Directors, APIA) on 4th December.

In the wake of its assessment of corporate governance for SMEs, Aliath looked into the characteristics shared by the various entrepreneurs rewarded at the events celebrating entrepreneurship and the success of a few model companies. While it if often said that “luck favours the brave”, the success of the award winners of the last few months can be traced back to a few criteria that are far from random.

These successful companies and these example-setting entrepreneurs are characterised by the embodiment of the company by its manager, a total commitment aimed at the long term, a genuine capacity to take risks, and unique human qualities. If there is to be a single illustration of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), it is the example set by these men and women who act day in, day out for the social interest of their companies, and through them, of their entire professional ecosystem.

Aliath is keen to review several highlights of the awards ceremonies that acknowledged the 2012 most deserving entrepreneurs:

Highlight 1: LIPPI (, winner of the SME Let’s Get Moving award in the “Family Company” category

This 250-strong company, specialised in fence and enclosure solutions for nearly 50 years, is a match for any large corporation. Managed by the two grandsons of the founder, Julien and Frederic Lippi, this third generation family company sets a good example with the relocation of its production in France, its training programme on new technologies for all employees and the 30% of its turnover achieved abroad. Its assets? Managers who have developed a corporate culture of trust that encourages the internal initiatives of its employee, as well as a strong entrepreneurial state of mind. This is captured in the forward-looking definition of LIPPI’s business, “To Reinvent Freedom Areas”.

Highlight 2: Jean-Luc Petithuguenin, President of PAPREC (, Entrepreneur of the Year Award

The Entrepreneur of the Year Award bestowed on Jean-Luc Petithuguenin rewarded the development and success of his medium-sized company –2500 employees, specialised in waste recycling and reprocessing –but more importantly, it brought to light a very special man and manager. His uniqueness lays in his strong ambition “to become a French leader”, his noteworthy boldness –for over 20 years, he has consistently reinvested his profits to finance the growth of the company –and his values, which include first and foremost the strong promotion of diversity across the group. “I would find it unbearable to manage a company which only employs 35-year old men with post-graduate degrees.”

Highlight 3: Jean-Marc Gaucher, Chairman and CEO of REPETTO (, BFM 2012 Entrepreneur Award

What makes the Entrepreneur Award special is that it rewards an entrepreneur whose success has been particularly striking over the past twelve months. Repetto is remarkable in this case. Founded in 1947, the company was close to bankrupt when it was taken over by Jean-Marc Gaucher in 1999. Thirteen years later, its turnover has grown tenfold to reach €60 million, the company employs 300 people, and its achievements are spectacular –such as the recent opening of a new factory inDordogne.

A secret to share? Behind the man, a genuine self-taught business man, lies an outstanding entrepreneur who was able to reposition his company on a high-end segment backed by the world of ballet. He was familiar neither with ballet nor with its flagship product, ballet shoes, but regardless, he understood its codes –a passion, a dream –its strict requirements –rigour and a love for a job well done –and he applied them across the board. Today, his company exports toChinaand has just launched a clothing line.

Highlight 4: Nathalie Lebas-Vautier, Cofounder and CEO of EKYOG (, winner of the Women’s Award in the “Green Business” category

At the Women’s Awards, female entrepreneurs are rewarded and it is worth noting that there are many more of them in top management positions, running successful start-ups as well as large international corporations. With a passion for fashion and management, Nathalie Lebas-Vauthier dared to go off the beaten track and invented a new business model in the demanding world of fashion, with a view to offering products that are both eco-friendly and beautiful. A growth model based on a business model that promotes the human factor and a shared ambition.

Highlight 5: The APIA annual convention on the theme “Independent Directors and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in SMEs”

It was a shared concern and a strong asset of the different awards given out this year to entrepreneurs, andAPIAhit the right tone with the theme selected for its annual convention. CSR is undeniably a differentiating performance driver for companies. It was remarkably well illustrated by Olivier de Guerre, President of the investment management firm PhilTrust Active Investors. He highlighted the positive impact of social and environmental innovation on performance but also on corporate strategy. By fomenting greater employee support in favour of the corporate project, CSR creates a fantastic opportunity for the manager to establish a novel relationship with shareholders around innovative, extra-financial and medium-term goals. Meanwhile, in this new backdrop, independent directors find the necessary breadth and scope to exercise fully their role within the board.

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