At work with Anne Gradvohl

Efma feature

24 June 2019

Anne Gradvohl, Innovation Director at Groupe VYV, a French insurance group, has established herself as the type of leader that is always supportive. Responsible for pushing transformative innovation into her company, she thrives on new challenges. She speaks to Boris Plantier to explain more.


Please tell me a little about your background.

I graduated in 1990 from a European Business School during which I spent one year in France, one year in the UK and one year in Germany. It was a wonderful experience. After that, I spent 15 years in a marketing consulting firm. In 2013, I joined Intériale, a ‘mutuelle Insurer’ as the company’s innovation director. It was the early stage of innovation concerns for insurers. I had a total freedom to create my framework and I loved it! One year ago, I joined Groupe Vyv, the first French mutualist Group. Here I perform in four main fields as the head of innovation: insurance; services; care; and housing.

What does your workplace look like?

I work in an open space – I like to be in the middle of the activity and feel the energy of my team. I don’t want a separate office. I want them to be able to ask me a question whenever they want, and vice-versa. I need to create an energy flow in our team.

Could you describe your usual working day?

I arrive at the office around 8am. I usually have a peaceful hour to answer important emails or read strategic files. And then the ballet of meetings begins. I work a lot with other entities in my group. My job is to facilitate and create innovation tools and infrastructures for the purpose of the entire Group and the strategic projects, so I meet a lot of external innovators: startups; incubators; accelerators etc. They feed the Group innovators’ deal flow. I can guide them to the perfect direction or company which will be interested by the project and it keeps me up to date with the latest technologies.

What is your favorite food?

I love Asian food. I travel a lot to Asia, but when I’m in Paris I also love cooking Asian. I go to Belleville, a Parisian district to buy Asian ingredients. I love the vibes there, it’s like a hive, full of people searching like me for the best ingredients that will form their meals.

What do you do when you need a break from work?

I recently experienced Saint Jacques de Compostelle road. Along with friends, I walked 88 km in four days and it was a magic break. I was able to connect again with nature, with my thoughts. I came back full of energy!

How do you build a successful team?

I speak a lot with my team. I believe in collaborative intelligence. We create the framework of strategic projects together and then everyone has their own responsibilities. But the foundations are always built together, and they are stronger as a result. I am available for my team every time they need me; I am always supportive.

There is a saying that we learn more from failure than success. Do you agree?

I try to challenge our team processes and goals regularly to maintain and reinforce agility. And I believe that understanding failure is very important, it gives keys to improve.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to succeed in financial services?

Financial services are essential. Our big companies are challenged by newcomers and startups, and this is good news because it drives us towards innovation and transformation.

And this is my job: pushing transformative innovation into our company. I really believe that innovation is valuable when it transforms organizations. I am not interested in innovation that just drives image or buzz.

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Keywords : Workforce management

Geography : France