Though she has stayed for long in the shades, Jeanne Zeze will never have been behind but rather besides her husband, Stanislas Zeze. After studying finance, she was, with him, behind the creation of Bloomfield, the first African rating agency.
By Dounia Ben Mohamed
“Young, I dreamed of being a woman with a certain impact in my community and I saw myself helping many children, especially little girls, to be happy and fulfilled,” confides Jeanne. I was convinced that I had the capacity to accomplish and to get everything I wanted”. At the age of 17, Jean Zeze read her first books on personal development and was enthusiastic about what the human being can achieve when he is aware of his potential and decided demonstrate it.
“Women have a capacity of resilience that allows them to demonstrate strength of character when circumstances so require.”
“I have a rather unusual academic and professional background. After my scientific higher school diploma, I first went into studies preparing for public accounting and I then branched to enter the Air Ivoire airline as an assistant to the sales manager. Subsequently, I had to go to Tunis for family reasons; I resumed studies to obtain a diploma in commercial and financial management that I enriched, on my return to Abidjan, with a diploma of financial engineer at the Houphouet-Boigny Polytechnic Institute. “
She then joins the prestigious English bank Standard Chartered Bank in the Department of Financial Markets. A universe deemed not very open to women but she stood out. “I went up the ladder to become the sales manager for financial markets”. But it’s rare to see women in strategic positions in the finance. We remember the shock wave created by the appointment of the first woman to head the New York Stock Exchange, the American temple of global finance. This sector is considered a world where only extremely ambitious people can succeed, who are not afraid to take risks that are often disproportionate and who are ready enough to achieve their goals no matter what. Which are not really characteristics that are naturally attributed to women. They are considered not being strong enough to withstand the pressure and demands of the world of finance. In reality, women have a resilience capacity that allows them to demonstrate great strength of character when circumstances so require. For my part, I stood out by my passion of the job, my skills and my strong personality which prevents me from letting others walk on the feet. “
“It’s exciting to be a forerunner …”
As a result, after ten years in the Standard, she feels mature enough and strong enough to set up her own consulting firm in Corporate Branding – corporate brand development – and Personal Branding – personal brand development – before taking over the management of Blueprint SA. Real estate subsidiary of Bloomfield Investment. An adventure at first a little bit crazy which she leads with conviction alongside her husband, Stanislas Zeze. “Bloomfield Investment was my husband’s dream when he was in the credit department of the African Development Bank and then in the West Africa and Central Credit division of Shell Oil Products Africa. I knew he had the capacity to achieve this ambitious project that everyone around him described as foolish. He likes repeating that I am the only person to have encouraged him. We thus created Bloomfield Investment in 2007, of which I am also a shareholder and administrator. There were a lot of obstacles at the beginning, but it’s exciting to be forerunners in this area and to help develop the financial market in the region. “
Women Entrepreneurs: Natural capacities for Leadership, Determination and Discipline
Through Bloomfield, who celebrated its tenth anniversary, and accompanies not only states, institutions, but also SMEs, Jeanne takes an expert look at women entrepreneurs. “They are sadly reputed to be risk averse, and there are few female-led SMEs to become SMIs. They often face financing difficulties as financial institutions are more inclined to lend to small and medium-sized enterprises run by men. Yet women are generally very determined, competent and disciplined. In addition, they have natural leadership qualities that allow them to manage their collaborators and pull the best out of them. “
The fact remains that, the financial actors rarely trust women. Whose fault is it? “I think it’s a world which aims to be very elitist that has long been perceived as a closed circle for men. But things have changed a lot, particularly in Ivory Coast, with many women at the head of major financial institutions. They became aware that no one will give them the status they deserve and that it is up to them to fight to reach for their goals. They do it very well and men end up accommodating to it. “
To gain visibility and credibility
This is the message that Jeanne Zézé shares today, out of experience. “Through my firm Reflet Consulting, I help women entrepreneurs to develop their potential. First of all at the level of their companies, helping them to stand out from the competitors by a solid positioning, to communicate in an “impacting” way to reach their target and to sublimate the customer experience to conquer and retain them. Then, on a personal level, I help them to reveal their specificity and to positively influence the perception of others towards them. They learn to communicate effectively and gain visibility and credibility that are favorable to the development of their business. “