Happy birthday, Sandrine !


A brief timeline of my life, followed by 50 lessons learned so far.

50 years ago  my parents brought me happily into this world.

47 years ago I had the first of 3 eye surgeries that saved my eyesight. Being one of the rare kids with eyeglasses (at the time) got me bullied as a child. But being able to see reinforced my love for books and learning, a love which I still harbour.

46 years ago my family relocated to the US for a while.  Upon returning to France, my school teacher said I should speak French only and my parents were not able to get me to speak English at home again… Thankfully times change and teachers encourage bilinguism nowadays !

38 years ago I went on a school trip abroad (to the UK) for the first time. That was the start of a long series of firsts : among first to being an English teacher at age 16 (supporting 10- to 12- years-olds in their discovery of UK), being the first au-pair in my family, being first in my Biz School to go study at Bath Uni as part of a brand new Erasmus exchange agreement… Did you guess that I love the UK ? I even worked there on my second expatriation 🙂

28 years ago I graduated from Amiens Business School with a specialization in HR.

23 years ago I got my first official title as Compensation & Benefits Manager. I’d been doing C&B for 5 years, but the function didn’t even have a name yet when I first started !

22 years ago I had my first international role and my first expatriation, to Rome. I eventually worked 3 times in Italy, living in Milan and beautiful Torino. I made some lifelong friends along the way 🙂

20 years ago following 9/11, while working in UK I lost my job for the first time. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise as it jolted me out of my comfort zone and onto a path to leadership and decision-making by pushing me to innovative organisations like Apple and Microsoft.

16 years ago I met Soufiane.

14 years ago I resigned from my job in Italy and moved to the UAE. Becoming VP of Performance & Reward at Majid Al Futtaim completely changed my life. First time moving, as a single woman, to the Arab world. My first Executive position with a truly global leadership role. First time managing a direct team of 13 very diverse people.

8 years ago I took the jump and set up my company. I was one of the earliest independent consultants in Total Rewards in the GCC (if not the first one to be established and serving the region, from the region). Being the first in my family and circle of friends to become an entrepreneur was a challenge, but everyone supported my dream.

4 years ago I received my first awards (Global C&B Leadership Award and Women Super Achiever Award).

And then a few months later Soufiane and I pronounced our vows 🙂

Last year the pandemic finally pushed me to start pivoting to a more hybrid approach to my business (face-to-face and virtual). I’d been talking about it a lot, but I finally started to deliver live online workshops. My first book is on its way. Even my blog is now incorporating video !

Last night Soufiane and I celebrated quietly, but deliciously – my friends know I have a sweet tooth !

This morning I woke up with a smile on my face, dreams in my head, and hope in my heart.

50 years in and I feel happy, fulfilled, and more than ever on a path of continued growth. Thank you all for gifting me your support. I am grateful every day for the opportunity to open paths and try new things, knowing that I have a network of supporters to encourage all my new ventures. And I look forward to continue being the “Aunty” to many of my younger friends and colleagues !

50 Lessons Learned So Far, On Work, And Life

  1. Everyone deserves respect.
  2. Always be learning.
  3. Be yourself.
  4. Let abundance drive your life. Share !
  5. Discipline and focus will help luck and opportunity find you.
  6. Always be open to something new. Expand your horizons.
  7. Stand up for your values.
  8. Defend your team.
  9. Grow the people around you.
  10. We can all improve. Everybody can.
  11. Come from a place of light (most days, anyway).
  12. Always look for the big picture.
  13. Most people are good.
  14. Be an optimist : “I’m a possibilities person”.
  15. Know when to put an end to a bad situation. You will immediately get a better life.
  16. Take notes. All the time !
  17. Believe in your capacity to adapt and go through tough times.
  18. Learn to say No.
  19. Being prepared and being consistent are true assets.
  20. Give your trust first. Most people will rise to the expectation.
  21. Be curious and integrate ideas from different fields.
  22. No job is ever worth your health.
  23. Smile… it makes everything easier.
  24. Take risks.
  25. Be positive. We have more control than we believe.
  26. If you’re not replaceable you’re not promotable.
  27. Network before you need your network.
  28. Your LinkedIn profile is your business card.
  29. Have an alternative in place to offer when turning down a request (“no we can’t do a Long-Term Incentive Plan but we can do a retention plan”)
  30. Ask questions until you understand.
  31. Manage expectations – don’t surprise your boss.
  32. Pay attention to detail.
  33. Update your resume every year. If nothing new… give it one more year, then leave if you are stuck (staying put = moving backwards)
  34. Establish your credibility early.
  35. Keep It Simple Stupid – don’t use jargon when speaking.
  36. Always explain “What’s In IT For Me” for the audience when trying to introduce change.
  37. Decide on your priorities, and accept the price to pay (For example, freedom brings uncertainty)
  38. Your best friends have great advice for you. Listen to them !
  39. Don’t get stuck on your first impression about someone.
  40. Sometimes, stepping away from a toxic relationship is the bravest thing you can do.
  41. Respect yourself. Truly.
  42. Manage your energy. High stamina and resilience are the foundations for all your successes.
  43. Use calendaring and batching to optimize your time at work… so that you can enjoy your time outside of it.
  44. Don’t be afraid to stand out.
  45. When things don’t work out… change what you’re doing. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein)
  46. Focus, and finish “The Thing” before you start something new, or you will never accomplish anything.
  47. Crisis brings opportunity, even if it’s hard to see it.
  48. We all make mistakes. It’s how you react that matters.
  49. One day or Day One. It’s your decision.
  50. Be the kind of person that you want to have in your life.

Thanks to Winnie Khong for her “Fifty” series which inspired me last year to also collect my own 50 pieces of advice, and to Brendon Burchard for his recent birthday post – I loved the timeline and had to create my own !

Sandrine's motto : Learn, help, share and smile
Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Happy Birthday Sandrine,

    Thanks for sharing those 50 wonderful insights and learnings.

    A wonderful perspective into your life.

    • Thanks a lot Frank ! even though we all need to go through our own experiences, sometimes we can learn or anticipate by getting feedback from those who have walkd the same path before us.That’s what I’m hoping to achieve here 🙂

  2. Betzi Miriyam Kuriakose says

    Happy Birthday… enjoyed the post. I could relate myself to some of the 50 lessons…thank you so much

  3. Gopi Krishna says

    Very well articulated

  4. FABRICE BOHN says

    Nice life statement. Full of wisdom indeed.
    Happy birthday from a former Sup de Co Amiens.

  5. Truly Amazing to learn about your life ! Wishing you more delightful and beautiful years ahead . Thank you so much for guiding us with your wide and extensive knowledgeable compensation ! Stay Awesome 👏🏻 stay blessed 😇

    Your silent admirer

  6. Happy Birthday…., your post always have good learning contents and it increase our knowledge bank about the subject, thanks for your time you have spend writing different post and enlightening us.

    Thanks a lot


  7. Happy Birthday. Great post. Thank you

Speak Your Mind