Ever since I’ve known Veronica, she has been working with people. Developing them, training them, building teams with them, in the various roles she held. For the past 4 years, she has been the co-founder and executive facilitator at NeuroMindfulness® Institute, based in Paris.
She and I recently caught up in one of her visits to Bucharest to discuss her current plans and how has she grown in the past 9 years, since finishing the MBA.
Tell us a bit about your current role. What are you working on at the moment?
I had a career shift in 2017, moving from a European HR Director role to an entrepreneurial journey. Together with my life partner, Arnaud Complainville, we have created NeuroMindfulness® Institute having in mind one purpose: to inspire leaders to raise their level of consciousness and make a positive difference in the world. We deliver transformational leadership development programs based on latest Neuroscience research, ancient Mindfulness wisdom and Leadership practices.
The last 4 years were very gratifying and also a great time to build neuroplasticity :). We had to reinvent our self pretty much every year – the WHY stays the same, but the HOW is constantly evolving. In 2020 we launched an online certification, and we are very proud to have almost 200 leaders and coaches around the world trained to use our methodology and content. If before the pandemic we would reach 300-500 leaders per year, over the last 12 months, we have been part of the growth journey of over 5.000 business professionals.
Were you involved in the development of the business? How?
We have created the business from a deep desire to have a positive contribution to the world. When I met Arnaud, I was fascinated by his scientific background and his dedication to mindfulness practice for many years. Our plan was to start something together when we are 60, but things evolved in a different way and 40s became the new 60s :).
In 2017, we were both in a professional transition, our son was born and we took some time to reflect on what type of life we want for our family and how work can integrate into that. Until that moment, we did the other way around.
Our business is now 30% corporate programs, 30% online courses, 30% retreats and 10% executive coaching. It took 4 years and a pandemic to build clarity on the business model and to find the balance between how we can bring value and what we like to do.
Did you work recently or collaborate with your MBA colleagues? What did you do together?
I have quite a few former colleagues and friends who graduated MsM, lots of collaborations over time. The most recent one is the series of webinars Personal Transformation: The Neuroscience and Tools for Bouncing Forward that we have developed with Sandra Jitianu (Mental Fitness Romania) and Roxana Panturoiu (Juiceit).
What made you take the entrepreneurial path?
It was a combination of the right person, the right context and a clear mission of having a positive impact. Mindfulness brought so much to our personal and professional life, both me and Arnaud wanted to be door-openers for business leaders into this field.
Our approach is grounded, structured and scientific. The moment we knew for sure we are on the right path was after organizing the first NeuroMindfulness® Retreat in 2015. Witnessing such a deep transformation both within ourselves and participants was one of the most meaningful professional experiences.
What do you think is a must have for a manager/entrepreneur?
There are few qualities we believe are critical in the new context both for managers and entrepreneurs: resilience, obsessive learning, presence and compassion and among the key ones. Resilience is for us the ability to bounce forward, to reinvent yourself when needed, to turn each challenge or new context into an opportunity to grow individually or as a business.
Obsessive learning is the healthy habit of learning every day and having a clear strategy for staying up to date with all the amazing discoveries in your field. And presence is probably the one that is the most challenging to cultivate in a world where everyone is fighting for our attention.
Presence is the ability to be here and now, to connect deeply with your body, mind, soul and to be able to hold the space for others without saving or fixing them.
Compassion is now one of the topics on the agenda of a lot of large organizations like Google, Microsoft, Marriott. A more compassionate company culture and leadership are key to build a strong foundation for a sustainable business. It is still an untapped potential for many organizations, but the latest research from neuroscience helps us understand the benefits of compassion at the cognitive level, so we hope more and more leaders will walk the path.
What are your objectives for the future of the project?
Every summer, we take a month off for family time and a month for stepping back and reflecting on what is our focus for the next year.
For 2022, we believe there will be a deep need of human connection and of creating spaces for people to process what happened to them during the pandemic. Nobody is the same as a year ago.
Many of us experience a mix of excitement, energy, hope and grief, sadness, exhaustion. It is a good opportunity to step back and take full control of where we want our life to go. The way we support organizations and individuals in this journey is through 3-5 days retreats where they experience mindfulness, yoga, coaching, life sharing moments, neuroscience workshops, healthy food, digital detox and beautiful nature.
How do you think the EMBA impacted your professional and personal life? Is there anything you apply now?
I did my MBA about 10 years ago, at 32. Beyond knowledge, it gave me huge self-confidence to apply for jobs I could only dream of.
For example, when interviewed for my last role – Chief People Officer Europe Pizza Hut, having an MBA was on the top 3 selection criteria. At the personal level, I learned a lot of lessons, one of the most important was the lesson of time management; those 2 years I understood that it is more important to learn how to manage my energy than my time.
Do you have any advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Regarding MBA, I would recommend starting as soon as possible. It’s challenging to do it when you are young, but it is definite worth it. It was a turnaround point for my career and I would have never had the courage to apply for global/ regional roles without an MBA.
When it comes to personal development, I am obviously biased, but I strongly recommend to entrepreneurs to spend some time understanding how their brain works.
It is a fascinating field and there is so much to learn about how to improve your cognitive performance, resilience, wellbeing, connection – basically how to be a better human being. There are 2 important trends in the world – 1. technological advancement and 2. what makes us human/ how our brain works. Both are equally important regardless of what your business is about. NeuroMindfulness® Institute can help you and your organization on the second one, and as entrepreneurs we do our best to also stay up to date with technology in the field of adult development.
I think businesses that will succeed in the future will be those helping us to simplify our life, to make the most of each moment and to stay physically and mentally healthy. So, if you have an idea that can make the world a little bit better and you can turn it into a business, go for it!