A Story of an Outfitter Fitting In

In the past 5 years, my life has taken me through a crazy ride. I’ve held 5 jobs, worked in 14 countries, lived in 3. Yeah … this doesn’t quite add up, doesn’t it? It got me questioning if I would ever fit somewhere and stop feeling the urge of just passing by on my way to a life that was waiting for me God knows where.

Today, I work for Duval Union Consulting in Dubai, and I’m happy to say this is officially the first time in my life I am not looking for another job or studying weekend activities in my potential search for a new country to move to.

My name is Maëlle, and when I joined Duval Union Consulting 4 months ago, trust me, I fully grasped how blessed I was.

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Five years back, I realized my true generation X potential and joined Rocket Internet, a global Start up Incubator in Berlin, as international project and development manager. At that time, it was as sexy as it got for me. Over the course of a bit more than a year, I worked in 11 different countries and met numerous overly ambitious prodigies in entrepreneurship and digital. My colleagues became my friends and my family. My office became my home … I mean literally my home – having breakfast, shower, pre-party, post-party, beach volley (you name it!) at the office.

The work environment was tough, competitive, and stealthy. We were under a lot of pressure, and a lot of us were psychologically and physically burning out. I, for one, started to neglect what really mattered, only to work that extra hour every day (aka hour #21).

I forgot why I came here in the first place, and I became someone I wasn’t sure to admire anymore. And so, one Tuesday morning, I handed over my resignation.

Here I was, sitting in the park on a Tuesday evening, surrounded by my friends, wondering what I wanted to do with my life.

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Naturally, as a 20-something digital entrepreneur in Berlin, I became a freelancer. How original, right? I quickly realized this life was too comfy for me. I was a young woman, making a great pay, and living on a 300 euros rent. Where was the thrill?

So, when I was offered a job in Digital Transformation for a leading charity in the UK, I packed my bags and flew off.

Things started to get real. My colleagues and I were tasked to drive the entire transformation of the company in order to meet the needs of our supporters and customers in better ways. The team was young and, after understanding the call for a change, very receptive to new ways of working. Our ambitions were high, and there wasn’t a day I didn’t wake up with such a smile about my upcoming day at work! It was the most exciting and fulfilling challenge I had to take. The more days went by, the more the word “team” was taking all its sense. Together we were achieving so much more than we could have without each other. My colleagues were constantly raising the bar, challenging me to release even better versions of my work. The journey was epic!

Cheesy enough, I actually loved my work. I had found my calling; I wanted to help more companies transform to become better at serving their customers. And although I had found my way professionally, my heart wasn’t where my work lied, and it was getting harder and harder to live in a city where I couldn’t see myself building a future.

And so, there I was again, packing my bags and flying off to Dubai, a place where my friend recommended me for a position in a local luxury retail group.

Despite the fact that I joined the most heartwarming welcoming team (they truly are), I wasn’t fitting in. I quickly realized that the corporate environment wasn’t made for me. As a cherry on the cake, a month after I moved in I was told that a Belgian consulting firm had advised to decentralize our team into the different business units. But there was no room for me to fit in.

And so I questioned (again) what I wanted to do, where I could fit in and how …

My company and colleagues were supportive throughout this process and I was given the opportunity to meet with various stakeholders internally to understand what I wanted to do and where I could see myself within the group. In this search for the Graal (a job that wouldn’t feel like one), I had the opportunity to be introduced to “the consultants” that got my team reallocated – Duval Union Consulting.

Honestly, it was love at first sight. After only one lunch, I caught myself thinking they were a pretty good date 😉

Indeed, it really didn’t feel like I was interviewing but rather like I was getting to know a couple of new people. We listened to each others’ stories, origins, dreams and hopes for the future. We discussed our hobbies, the last books we read, the YouTube videos that kept us awake at night, … literally, a proper date talk! I felt like I had known them since forever. They even laughed at my jokes … when it usually takes a good month to start understanding my very French sense of humor.

It clicked.

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DUC 3 offices meeting at The Next Web in Amsterdam last May

There was a place out there for outfitters to thrive. A place where being different and thinking outside of the box is encouraged. They even have a word for it, T-shaped disruptors. How cool is that?!

It’s now been 4 months since I’ve joined DUC’s team in Dubai. Four months I kept being amazed by those T-shaped disruptors around me. Not one single individual is the same but we have this passion in common, and this is what most probably makes us so relevantly original and pertinent on the market.

I was very impressed by the team when I joined, not a day went by without one member of the team praising someone else’s work, or throwing a love note for the group on the team-Slack. It almost was too good to be true. But the more days went by, the more I became our biggest groupie myself. I was so busy admiring my peers’ work, and surprisingly enough they were too busy caring about my past and present achievements to show off. They helped me thrive from Day 1.

Four months to experience that brains alone don’t bring miracles. What matters is the culture behind the people. And at DUC, culture is top-of-mind all day, every day. Every person I have met is smart – no brainer – but every person I have met is also incredibly self-aware, humble, caring and eager to exchange knowledge.

We are one continent apart, and most of my colleagues have called me on my first week; not to talk about work, but simply to get to know me, ask me what I like to do in the weekends, which football team I was rooting for (… blank answer …), which kind of music I liked, how many siblings I had.

When I joined DUC, I had the feeling that I did more than just joining a company, I gained a family. A family that will stand by me in successes and failures, that will nurture my growth, and that will constantly help me be the best version of myself.

As a family, it stays constantly close to our heart to hear everyone’s voice and ensure we all have a major impact on the strategy and culture.

We don’t just work for DUC, WE ARE DUC.

And that makes us incomparably strong.

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I am Maëlle Basselot and I joined DUC Mena one month after the opening of our office in Dubai.

Helping companies transform for the future is what keeps me awake at night!

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About Duval Union Consulting

We are new-style management consultants focusing on transforming and growing organizations in a digital-first world with offices in Europe and the Middle East. New-style? Co-created business strategy, custom-made transformation trajectories and actual experienced business advisors are only some of our differentiators and why clients love to work with us. We design the future of your business together.

Click here to find out more on how we can help you make your company future proof