When a big company hires small

Agathe Boidin, President of Orchestra Prémaman USA Inc., at Orchestra’s first US store, in the King of Prussia Mall. CAMERON B. POLLACK / Staff Photographer

In Europe, Agathe Boidin held lots of C-suite titles at Orchestra Prémaman, the French-based retailer selling maternity, children’s and infant apparel in 600 stores worldwide. Lots of corporate infrastructure.

In the U.S., she’s an entrepreneur, charged with spreading the company’s European-styled children’s and infant apparel brand in the U.S. So far, there’s one store at the King of Prussia Mall, and her staff has gone from thousands to about 10. We talked about during our Executive Q&A interview published in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

In Europe, you had a whole human resources department to hire. Here, you’re it. How is hiring different?

Yes, because we are just building.  So what you need to have is people that are not afraid to put in place things, to create.  It’s different when you work in a company.  That’s what I said to my store manager.  I said, `You used to work for Pink.  I’m sure everything is set up, the procedure.  But, in Orchestra, we will have to build it.  You have the experience of a well-organized company.  You will have to help me build it and to adapt it.  Even if we have procedures back in France, we will have to adapt to this country.  It’s the same also for the Web.  You need to have people that like to build things, and to grow business.

I think it’s different when you hire people.  You can be in a position where you manage what is existing.  There are people that are good at that.  What I need is people who are able to put in place [and innovate and create.]

If you’re a young person and you want to become a CEO, what can you do to prepare yourself?

Wow, that’s a difficult question. I think if you want to become a CEO, I think you have to have different jobs.  What I really like with Orchestra, because it was a small company, I had to see all departments of the company.  Even if I didn’t work in logistics, since it was small I saw how we built the logistics, for example.

So, seek a variety of experiences?

To be a good chief executive, I think it’s really important that you know exactly how things are done in the field.

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