Meet Clemence Quint, social entrepreneur in conflict environments

Meet Clemence Quint, our latest Young Woman To Watch. Clemence is a 28-year old social entrepreneur committed to support societies affected by conflict through behavioural change communication. She founded last year the consulting company Magenta Consulting with her friend and former colleague Sarah-Jean Cunningham.

While in college, Clemence spent a year doing internships in Lebanon and Morocco. Upon graduating with a master in Conflict and Development studies, she returned to Beyrouth to volunteer with the NGO Save the Children. Few months later, Clemence landed a job in Paris with the French humanitarian NGO ACTED that intervenes in more than 30 countries. Supporting the field teams in a fast-paced environment, she developed a rigorous and solution-oriented mindset, learning to work across various thematic and geographic areas, and gaining a better understanding of donor requirements. While she learned a lot and enjoyed the work, she was eager to return to the field. Asked why she chose to work in conflict settings, Clemence says it was a mix of curiosity and thirst for adventure and challenge.

In October 2014, at only 25, Clemence left France for Afghanistan where she spent the following three years working on communication projects for the Afghan government, the United Nations, development agencies and various NGOs. Starting as a programme manager for Lapis, a strategic communication agency, she was gradually entrusted more responsibilities and made her way to the position of acting Country Director. In this capacity, she learned to lead people and to manage resources. It seemed only natural, when she left the company and Afghanistan, to use those skills to create a social business with a mission she strongly believes in. We chatted with Clemence about her field and what it is like to set up a company.

clemence

What’s your definition of a leader?
A positive and solution oriented mindset, curiosity and the ability to keep the big picture in mind are key to successful leadership. Leaders are constantly required to make judgment calls and own up to those. It requires strength and self-confidence but also a great ability to listen, recognize mistakes and take feedback onboard while not losing perspective. This balance is key to be able to provide vision to a team, guiding people while allowing them to grow as individuals.

What was your proudest moment?
Becoming an entrepreneur to set up an organization I strongly believe can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Putting myself at risk, accepting the idea to potentially fail but still wanting to give it my best because the challenge is worth it. Social and behavioural change communications (SBCC), the focus of Magenta Consulting, has an enormous potential to improve people’s lives and is often an afterthought of development programing. We don’t only implement programs but also shape their design and advocate for better practices in the industry by sharing our experiences shifting social norms on the ground in challenging and complex settings.

What do you enjoy most about your job/business?
Being able to provide strategic vision and driving the organizational growth is extremely exciting although it comes with responsibilities. We get to take part in high level discussions that shape development policies and contribute to best practices in the industry. In the countries we work in, we meet incredible people who truly make a difference every single day. The idea that we can make a real, long-lasting impact is what makes me get out of bed every morning.

What’s your advice to young women in leadership?
Don’t let people tell you that you are too assertive, too bossy – as a woman, even more so as a young woman, being confident in who you are and what you think is crucial to be able to be a successful leader (although that doesn’t mean dismissing constructive feedback). It is unfortunate, but it still takes more time for women to access leadership positions than for men – indeed a lot of young women are discouraged by the negative feedback they receive. Find yourself a good mentor, someone who is going to lift you up and help you to get a perspective on what is really important and what you should just let go. Stay focused on what you really want to achieve and channel all your energy toward that goal, don’t let yourself being distracted by petty fights.

What have you learned never to do?
Setting up a company and managing means learning something new every day. To remain focused and efficient, I have learned to not say yes to everything and prioritize what is really essential, to do it to the highest standard. I have also learned to not work 24/7 – I have often felt the need to work the extra hours to prove myself, but quickly learned that it is not sustainable. Maintaining strong ties to friends and family will help you maintain perspective on what is really important but will also make you a better leader.

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