For me, the corporate culture is the identity of a company, it represents the values that dictate how we interact between colleagues, with partners and customers. As the corporate culture is a driving force in how a company does business, it has an impact on the strategy, on the work environment, giving all the employees a common approach. But what would be the impact and benefits of a corporate culture when an individual is going out of his or her comfort zone?

Linda, my colleague, and I participated in a female off-road 4×4 rally in the Moroccan desert, the Rallye Aicha des Gazelles, using only a compass, a navigational plotter and maps. All this, with no GPS and phone during the 9 days. Each morning, we were receiving a “Road Book” for the day’s course containing only the geographical coordinates, headings and distance of the day’s checkpoints and finish line. The objective of this rally was not to go the fastest, but to find a way to do the least kilometers. To add to the fun, every morning we had to wake up at 4 am to organize our car, define our day route, and after we had to participate to the morning briefing at 5 am, and the day race was starting at 6 am, yes almost as in the military!

Both amateur (like Linda and I) and professionals had to push their limits during this race, facing each other’s in an environment that is a far reach from our challenging daily life as a woman. We had to learn how to advance day by day trying not to damage the car or getting hurt. An amazing experience which allowed me to share and know better myself and my “Gazelle” and other women.

We truly believe that the fact we shared the same corporate culture as rally teammates was a real difference on how we lived the whole experience and how we reacted during this unique adventure. Our company culture guided our behaviors and helped us to respond to the unpredictable. It also gave us the liberty to propose or not new ideas and directed us while making decisions. What are the components of our company culture that make it great? The solution oriented mindset, the team spirit and trust in each other that makes you enthusiast to go to work every day. While the load of work may be important or difficult, our company culture is not provoking additional stress, on the contrary it alleviate the stress with a good couple of laughs during the day. Work hard and play harder is our credo! Our company culture sustains our eagerness, and that is this same drive that helped us throughout the different challenges we faced in the middle of the desert. The main elements we consider made a difference in our journey were:

  • Our culture of feedback

This helped us to change strategies when needed during the rally, acknowledging mistakes and avoiding to repeat them. Of course it was crucial in keeping a productive communication.

  • Our cultural diversity and versatility

Change is good. We did not resist it, we embraced it. We decided from the start to take both roles of driver and navigator during the rally. This was essential as we could put ourselves in the shoes of the other. Our cultural diversity is one of the best things about our company. We have this healthy respect for cultural differences and this was so helpful during our adventure with more than 300 women being all out of their comfort zones. Tolerance was key, in order not to just jump to a conclusion, asking ourselves if what was said or done was actually meant.

  • Our risk-taking mindset

In many occasions we went straight and stayed on course without avoiding difficult terrain. Even if we did not know what to expect, we still tried. We could see sometimes that on the map there were obstacles but still decided to have a closer look before making a final decision.

When we found ourselves stuck, we kept a positive attitude and we always believed there were a creative way around to almost any obstacle. We did not hope things will happen, we made things happen.

  • Our dynamism

A “nothing is impossible” attitude and high energy were vital to go through the 9 days of rally. We channeled our superhero energy every day. We embraced new challenges…. and trust me with sleeping only 4 hours per day, you need to find ways to keep your dynamism up if you do not want to abandon.

  • Our business resilience

We demonstrated courage and a capacity to resist to mental and physical chocks. Typically what we did was adopting the following approach: if you cannot run, walk, if you cannot walk, crawl and if you cannot crawl well…laugh about it. When our car, and other cars where stuck (yes it happened several times!!), well we had to shovel the sand out, and go out and try to push…!! We did accept what was happening and find new ways to continue to still be in the race.

  • And of course striving on doing more than expected

We really took ownership of our ideas and run with them. We literally rolled up our sleeves. We dreamed big and incorporated new ways of organizing ourselves during the rally by improving what we did at first, being at least +1% better, faster in doing things day by day.

To conclude, it is one thing to say you can do all of that, or dream to take part in such a voyage, another thing is to demonstrate you can actually do it, and you know what? Thanks to our mindset, resilience, ardor and passion we did it….and it was awesome!

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Catherine Rey Sales & Marketing Manager

Catherine joined LHC as Sales & Marketing Manager in December 2015. Her role involves developing and implementing the LHC’s Sales & Marketing plan and promote the Executive Education career development programmes around the globe.

Prior to LHC, she worked in the International Education industry for over 5 years both in Mexico and Switzerland, where she moved with her family in 2013. She represented in Latin America prestigious wine and spirit brands within the Hospitality industry for over 10 years. She worked closely with International Hotels, government institutions and corporate executives and multinationals and had to support them in the international implementation of their educational projects.

She is a graduate in International Business from the University of Blaise-Pascal in Clermont-Ferrand France and spent her last year of study in the University of Oklahoma Price College of Business USA. She followed several wine and spirit training both in France and Mexico. She lived in 5 different countries and enjoy multicultural environments where relationships, new ideas, innovation and original concepts are valued. She appreciates being challenged and strongly believe in enhancing the customer experience to growing the business.

While not at work, she enjoys spending time with her daughter and husband and go for long walks by the lake. She is passionate about wine and like to organize tastings of wines from different regions and countries for her family and friends.

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Linda Papasidero Consultant at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting

Prior to joining LHC in August 2009, she handled several project development portfolios in international cooperation and executive education for the city of Lausanne. She then joined EHL in the Academic Department where she coordinated communication and academic advice activities.

Her responsibilities at LHC include the quality maintenance of EHL certified schools through marketing and academic consulting support, development of learning centres around the world and delivery of executive education courses.

Linda holds a Master of Arts, International Relations, from the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Marketing Management from HEC Lausanne.

Though she grew up in Lausanne, Linda has Mediterranean blood as she is originally from Spain and Italy. Thanks to her cultural diversity and interest in languages, she speaks French, Italian, Spanish, English and basic German. She is currently learning Arabic.

After work and during weekends, she practices martial arts, snowboarding, roller skating and taking long walks in the forest. She also enjoys spending time with family and friends, especially around good food and extra-large servings of chocolate desserts!