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Inspiring Women Series: Yari Foucaud

In celebration of International Women's Day, we're spotlighting some inspiring women who also just happen to be Mums of some of our fantastic Debate Mate Virtual students! Next up, we have a blogpost written by Yari Foucaud...

Hi, I'm Yari, a Product Owner working in digital and an ex-musical theatre artist,  a self-proclaimed ambassador for Debate Mate.

Originally from Venezuela, my two children Anaëlle (12) and Matisse (14) got involved in Debate Mate classes over three years ago when a dear friend and inspiring woman, COO of Simply Business, Bea Montoya, invited them along with her daughters to participate in one of Debate Mate's virtual courses. Bea had participated in a Corporate Debate Mate course where she was thoroughly impressed by their professionalism and the invaluable skills they taught. Her experience led her to believe that acquiring such skills at a young age would greatly benefit our children's lives.

Observing Debate Mate Virtual's courses, I could see my shy daughter becoming more and more confident, eloquent, thinking critically and on the spot, communicating more effectively when speaking out in front of others, taking for once her own space to express her thoughts.

Wow! I wish every girl on the planet could be empowered with these skills for life. Thanks Debate Mate! 

Reflecting on my past experiences, I wish I had possessed the valuable skills taught by Debate Mate when I entered the Oil & Gas industry, a male-dominated sector. It was challenging to feel confident when conveying messages to colleagues and clients. I vividly recall one incident where a male colleague who was supervising me during a training I was delivering, attempted to publicly humiliate me in front of clients. Although I managed to defend myself to the best of my abilities, the experience left me feeling terrible.

If only I had acquired the essential competencies taught by Debate Mate earlier in my life, I could have avoided such an embarrassing situation. Such inestimable skills are indispensable in the professional world.

It is also crucial to acknowledge the significance of role models for young girls. In the past, many societies raised girls with the help of elderly women who taught them the essential skills to become a woman. Unfortunately, in our modern societies, this practice has almost disappeared. Therefore, I strongly urge every adult woman to step up and become a role model or mentor for a young girl - to be the role model that they themselves needed when they were that little girl.

Unfortunately, in the early 2000s, the Oil & Gas industry was facing a crisis, and as a result, I was unable to find a job. However, the IT sector was booming, and I found myself unexpectedly returning to my original passion when I was recruited by CSC Peat Marwick in Paris to work as a Graph Talk AIA developer. This opportunity set me on a career path in the IT/Digital world. I then joined DNV in London.

After taking a break to look after my children, I found it difficult to return to work due to a loss of confidence. Negative comments from others who criticise women for taking time off work to care for their families didn't help. However, I took the courage to begin applying for jobs again, until the founder of Kinfo gave me the opportunity to work in her startup. Once I resumed working, my confidence immediately returned, and I realised that my skills had never diminished.

Two years later, in 2020, we were chosen by Google for Startups to be part of their Women Founder Program. This experience demonstrated to me that with confidence and hard work, it's possible to achieve one's dreams.

As women, we still have work to do in achieving gender equity and equality in the workplace. It is frustrating to still be seen as a diversity token when promoted, and I hope to see organisations making real efforts to eradicate gender biases and provide equal opportunities for everyone regardless of gender.

On International Women’s Day, my advice to young women is to have faith in themselves. 

This will give them the confidence to succeed, and if they combine this with optimism and positivity, they will thrive in whatever path they choose to pursue in life. So go ahead, dare to dream big and pursue your goals with unwavering determination!

Happy International Women's Day!