GIVING MEANING TO HUMAN RESOURCES

Pauline Lestarpé

Being creative by nature, I first decided to study marketing after my baccalaureate. I wanted to work in the world of packaging (cosmetics sector). I have always loved beauty products. Being able to create, draw, design, attracted me.

I didn’t like the business school I chose at the time – I felt like I didn’t belong. I was young, and I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly yet. The only thing I knew at the time was that I really wanted to evolve in a multicultural environment. My father is ex-military, and we spent a bit of time abroad; we’ve lived in Rome for 3 years and spent 2 years in Karachi (Pakistan). I have been immersed in other cultures and languages since I was 5 years old.

I chose to reorient my education and went on to study international trade, but I know that I only chose this field for the “international” word in the title. With six months to spare before resuming classes, I looked for a temporary job. I was 19. My curiosity led me to join a company as a Human Resources Assistant. I didn’t know anything about HR at the time, but I was willing to learn. My manager took me under her wing and made me discover the field. And I loved it! I had finally found my way.

During my studies, I focused on HR internships. I could go back to Rome and intern there for a while. After graduating with a BTS, I went to an international business school and obtain a Master’s degree through professionalization, with a major in HR. Basically, it meant that I could study and work at the same time, earning a salary. This seemed like a pretty interesting deal to me.

I then landed my first job at the headquarters of a large international company. I had the chance to go on secondment to the UK and the US for varying lengths of time and develop my language skills. I stayed there for 5 wonderful years during which I was in charge of HR. Then, other equally fulfilling experiences (and sometimes less so) followed in a wide variety of sectors: the railway industry, sports, retirement homes, etc. In 2013, my husband and I left the big city to go back to the roots – to the Basque Country.

My very last experience before joining SOPHiA GENETICS has been a turning point. We’re end of 2018, and I work in a company that’s doing badly. A big buyout was planned, my job was impacted, and I was about to be laid off. The business sector was a pretty glamourous one, but the reality behind the scenes was very much less so. For a year, I had been watching my job lose momentum and witnessing changes that frightened me. I preferred to choose to leave before someone cut my head off. I decided I had to remain the master of my destiny and my choices, and that I needed to contribute to something bigger than me, something that would make a lasting impact.

That’s when I heard about SOPHiA GENETICS. The fact that it was a growing company, always innovating and moving forward, really attracted me – and in the Basque Country! It seemed to have it all: a sector of activity that was unknown to me but that aroused my curiosity and fascination. A position where everything had to be built. I was starting from scratch. It was scary, but at the same time I could feel the adrenaline of the situation. I like to say that I am like a diesel engine: give me things and I am happier. I couldn’t get into a monotonous mindset. I decided it was time for me to contribute to something more impactful, more useful to society, especially since cancer is a disease we’re all confronted to at some point, directly or indirectly.

I jumped into the unknown and I am now a Senior Human Resources Business Partner at SOPHiA GENETICS, taking care of our French and Belgian workforce. To sum it up, my job is to deploy our HR policy, but it’s multi-faceted and I never get bored. No two days are alike. My primary interest is to contribute to providing the best possible service to employees and it’ s much more gratifying (and in in-line with my values) to work for a company that’s revolutionizing healthcare rather than selling boardshorts.

As an HR person, it is actually quite rare to be working in a growing company. Usually, a company is in need of us when they need to restructure and lay off people. At SOPHiA GENETICS, not only are we growing – fast – but the overall situation is really something else. Of course, the multicultural aspect is a very important one for me; I love to speak other languages and learn from people with different backgrounds, origins and culture. In the Basque Country, there are very few companies of the kind. But the most striking thing is the culture. I’m surrounded by people who truly love what they do and from whom I can learn every day. Our sector of activity is a complex but fascinating one, and the end mission is empowering. We’re all invited to give the most of ourselves, to surpass our own capabilities, to express our ideas and to be actors of our own development, all of this in a healthy give and take relationship with one another. That’s what SOPHiA GENETICS is about: we’re a team of heroes.