After graduating from ICN Business School in France with a masters in management, Ms Gentes-Kruch went to Cameroon in Africa where she taught management and marketing at the University of Yaounde National Advanced School of Engineering. She joined Peugeot in 1978 as an IT project manager.
In her spare time, Ms Gentes-Kruch focuses on women’s networks, founding the Est’Elles Executives network in Nancy and the Réseau des Femmes de PSA Peugeot Citroën in Paris. She also enjoys theatre, cabaret and playing golf.
1. Who are your business influences?
General Charles de Gaulle is one of France’s major historic figures who has impressed me most as a leader who rallied the vast majority of French people to his vision. He taught me how to be resilient and to strive to become a successful person.
Another person who has had a tremendous impact on me is Anne Lauvergeon, former chief executive of Areva, the industrial company. She is a woman with fierce resilience and a strong vision who successfully imposed herself in the traditionally male-dominated nuclear power industry.
2. What do you enjoy most about your job?
Shaking up corporate habits by promoting creativity and behavioural changes! This is why I accepted my current assignment as head of Peugeot’s corporate university.
3. What is the best piece of advice given to you by a teacher?
Jump into action and dare. Take risks in your life.
4. What is your biggest lesson learnt?
Never try to change people.
5. What is the worst job you have ever had?
Looking back, the IT position that I originally held at Peugeot was a difficult moment. I found it hard to relate to my colleagues because I did not have the right insight into the technical issues.
6. What advice would you give to women in business?
Dare, dare and dare to be the woman you really are while working with men, not against them.
7. How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
In my view, you should always boast impeccable technical skills in a male-dominated industry like the car industry and develop a smart, targeted behaviour with an indispensable sense of humour. Above all, never tolerate the comments of male chauvinists!
8. If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I should have fought harder to obtain higher pay rises!
9. What is your favourite business book?
The Queen of the South by Arturo Perez-Reverte, a novel that describes the life of a woman confronted with a hostile environment.
10. What are your future plans?
I will be striving for work/life balance and I will continue being an advocate for a stronger presence of women on corporate boards – I will take advantage of the opportunities of having a seat on some of these boards!