Should you choose between career, cause and community? Discover how Criteo’s flexible working philosophy and supportive culture have helped Marielle to combine her job as Senior Manager Account Strategist Growth UK with her deep commitment to help children in Senegal.
You are part of a humanitarian project in Senegal. Can you tell us a bit more?
I joined the Vole Papillon project a year and a half ago, sponsoring a child to help grant her access to education, providing supplies, paying her yearly school fees, etc. While the project focuses on sponsoring, we volunteers decided to go over there once a year, so we can meet the children, their families, and get a peek at what they need to better support them in the future. I actually came back from Senegal a few weeks ago.
How did you come across this particular project?
A friend of my aunt started it and I saw it as an opportunity to help, support, and give back; I guess that was my main driver. Giving simple things that we, ourselves, take for granted can change someone else's life.
Many people look for a sense of purpose in their lives. Has this experience helped you find one?
Definitely! I feel grateful to have had the opportunity to see another reality. When you go over there, you find out that what they need is not always what you would think.
How do you manage to combine this commitment with your responsibilities as Senior Manager Account Strategist at Criteo?
It is where I choose to invest my free time, so I do not count my hours. For sure, the flexible working approach we have at Criteo makes it easier to commit to have such projects on the side. It allowed me to go and work from Senegal. Last year, I even stayed for two and a half weeks. I could then take more time to talk with them, organize activities, and also unwind, as it is a lot to take in. Besides, we also get two days off (Volunteer Days Off - VDO) to carry out humanitarian projects.
Does Criteo help you find a project if you do not have one already?
Yes, there is a list of different associations and projects you can join based on your location.
You just got back from your annual trip to Senegal. How was it?
Time and life do not go as fast when you are there. I came back in mid-January, a bit frustrated, to be honest, as I always feel it is not enough. We are not connected to them when we are back here, so you can only guess what their needs are, and you always discover new ones when you go there again. You’ll bring medicine and supplies, but you’ll find out the prior need is to have the school door fixed as many kids get injured because of it. They can't afford to have it repaired; inflation also impacts them! I remember talking with a girl who inherited a piece of land. She told me she enjoys cooking and would like a small kitchen to cook and sell local dishes to the villagers and tourists. In a way, they need a nudge to fuel the local economy. We all came back with many ideas and the will to do more. In one week, you still have an impact, but next time, I'll stay for two at least.
What has this experience brought you over the years?
There is a widespread belief in our western countries that we have a lot to teach developing regions. But we also have a lot to learn from them, especially on the human side. I am not saying one is better, only that they could nurture each other. Such an experience deeply recalibrates you, bringing you down to earth. It gives you some perspective, and you learn to feel grateful for what we often take for granted, such as electricity, water on-demand, a nice bed to sleep in, etc.
Anything you'd like to add before we conclude?
After our last trip, we volunteers want to have a bigger impact, so we are thinking about creating another association to complete Vole Papillon’s work. We would like to support them in developing their local economy; providing funds for them to refresh the school, the grocery shop, repair/build what they need, etc. So, stay tuned! Criteo is a big company but, after almost 9 years working there, I've seen our culture grow around values of solidarity and inclusion. Therefore, if any Criteo is looking to use their VDO, don’t hesitate to reach out. We'll be lucky to have you onboard!