Meet Sandrine Meunier, Chief People Officer at Aircall

Sandrine Meunier

Sandrine Meunier serves as Chief People Officer for Aircall, a fast-growing, agile and flexible cloud-based voice platform for modern businesses. Sandrine is unwavering in her passion for people as well as in championing best practices in managing rapid culture change and company growth.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am the Chief People Officer at Aircall, the agile cloud-based voice platform for modern businesses. It’s a great company, and it’s expanding at an unprecedented speed; so, it’s up to me to champion the best practices for managing rapid culture change and company growth. This starts with ensuring that we have a strong culture of trust, collaboration and inclusion, which is key to creating successful teams and outstanding results.

Over the last 20 years of my career, I have led HR and people teams for global businesses within retail, luxury, beauty and technology industries. Prior to joining Aircall, I was the Vice President of People for Ledger, a leader in security and infrastructure solutions for cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications. Before that, I was the Chief Human Resources Officer France at The Estée Lauder Companies and Vice President of Learning and Talents at Saint Laurent Couture, Kering Group.

In terms of leadership style, I try to act as an ally for leaders leading change. My impact is seen through the way I implement engagement strategies at all levels of an organization. I pride myself on the ability to work across all the various elements of my job, from Change Management to Talent Acquisition, Leadership Development to Organizational Design, and Diversity and Inclusion to Employee Engagement Strategies.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I have always selected my roles based on the culture that companies have had and the challenges that they have offered me. Planning your career too precisely does not allow you to seize opportunities and to consider career paths that are slightly outside of your comfort zone – where I believe you can do some of your best work.

Furthermore, I don’t believe in linear careers, but in patterns. The pattern that has defined my career has been the consistent conduct of change management to allow businesses to operate at scale.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

As an HR leader, the partnership with your CEO is key. You have to define your priorities, strategies and HT vision first, and then align with your CEO. This alignment is key to success; it will allow you to build consistent programs and challenge other leaders within the business on company culture.

Ethic and value alignment is therefore the most important deciding factor for me when it comes to choosing where to work. And sometimes you do have to make that difficult choice to leave but fundamentally, this decision will always fall in line with your beliefs.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Designing and creating the Aircall Unique Employee Experience has been something I am very proud of – not only because of the speed of its conception and implementation, but also because it has been welcomed internally, by our teams. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of many talented people, we have managed to develop and implement all of our policies in under 2 years, across 7 countries.

This project has been a collaborative one, driven together by employees and senior managers alike; we identified 3 value propositions based on the desire to make your experience at Aircall a time you’ll remember forever. We have thus pinpointed what makes us, us and what we aspire to be. It’s demanding but unique, and it has allowed us to recruit the best talent and keep our team engaged.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Ultimately, I think I have been courageous. Although perhaps not entirely in the word’s traditional sense, I have always fought for my beliefs, I have spoken up, I have taken risks and I have remained open and transparent with both senior and junior colleagues; And I think people respect that. Through bravery, I’ve maintained consistency in the way that I have come across personally, and that stands you in good stead as a leader in any department, not just HR.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Listen and dare to share your feedback and ideas, and develop your communication skills as best you can; in my eyes, these are key success drivers.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

Being a woman in the technology industry means belonging to a minority. As a result, there are undoubtedly barriers: for some women, it’s the feeling of not being heard as much as the rest of the room; for others, it’s that maternity leave is a choice that can have a huge impact on your career. These fears are constant and derive from true experiences that we have felt and heard.

The truth is that the industry is waking up to DE&I topics only now, which is a great opportunity for us. And if we really want to make demonstrable progress, we must do more. That starts with educating our leaders and VCs on the challenges that we face as women, so that they become aware of their biases and learn to understand the hurdles that we need to overcome to be in a position to perform. We must welcome an open dialogue and raise awareness of the core topics and challenges that women face at work every day.

As a female leader in tech, dare to be yourself, and you will pave the way and inspire others.

What do you think companies can do to support the careers of women working in technology?

Fundamentally, it’s about building the right culture that allows women to feel that they not only have a voice within their company but that their voice is being heard, valued and elevated.

To achieve this, business leaders must educate all employees – from the top down – on the importance of an inclusive culture that champions community and belonging. This starts by enrolling managers into training programs that address the problem of unconscious bias in the world of work, as well as reevaluating recruitment and onboarding processes.

This can be further supported by the development of internal initiatives like the Employee Resources Group (ERG) program at Aircall. We encourage our employees to create peer groups within teams, so that they can educate one another on their own experiences and how to resolve any issues that they might face.

Leaders must also look to actively advocate equity and equality of opportunity through practices, systems and processes that hold employees accountable for the progress that is being made. By setting clear KPIs and being transparent in the way that this information is communicated, leaders can quantify how well they are doing when it comes to addressing inequality within their business and assess whether they are going far enough to support minorities.

There are currently only 21 percent of women working in tech; if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

We are very proud of the gender balance that we foster here at Aircall, and we do our level best to create an environment in which women have the same chance to grow as men. In fact, Aircall is 50% women, but we need to do far more to reach that same level across the industry.

In my opinion, we need to promote to younger generations that anything is possible for women in tech, and that starts with education. We must inspire girls from when they are at school, share our stories, so that they can develop role models and visualize their future and that careers in tech are achievable for them. And ultimately, they will become their own role models, with time as they grow in confidence – this is my one wish for us, as a connected community.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Being French, I listen to a lot of podcasts by inspiring women over here, across the channel – one being Femmes Puissantes on France Inter, in which journalist Léa Salamé interviews writers, politicians, engineers… women who do incredible things everywhere!

It’s crucial that women invest in their personal development. The better you know yourself, the more confident you will be in being yourself.