Getting to know you: Jouve Group’s Pierre-Vincent Debatte

What do you currently do?
I’m currently President and CEO of the Jouve Group. It is always exciting to be the main man in a business but at Jouve it also feels like quite a responsibility and a challenge because our future is so dependent on key decisions I must take. This is because we are living in a period of massive changes both in terms of user behaviour and new economic models.
What is your inspiration in Business?
All the business units of the Jouve Group are in fast changing industries and markets and although it is putting a lot of pressure on our organisation, I tend to also look at it as a potential turning point in the long history of our company that could bring new opportunities and a reinvention of our traditional models.
In such an environment, the two things that inspire me the most are:
  • The breadth of skills and the goodwill of our people. With this potential and the right focus, there are very few limits to what we can attempt and achieve 
  • The pace of change in our traditional industries at all levels of the value chain. It is such a revolution that everything has to be questioned and put on the table to reassess our business. Every option can and should be analyzed and this is quite rejuvenating
Who do you admire?
In the world of technology, the person I admire the most is Steve Jobs. He is the only person I can think of with such a balanced mix of extraordinary talents in three areas that I think are absolutely vital in order to thrive in today’s markets: a wonderful sense of innovation, brilliant strategic marketing skills and the charisma to lead his organisation towards a faultless and disciplined execution of his plan with no compromise.
With Steve Jobs, there is no watering down of the initial vision. His strategy is such a far cry from the traditional cost-cutting exercises that one reads about daily in the financial press.
Looking back, are there things you would have done differently?
I have arrived at Jouve with extensive experience as CEO of various businesses across the world. I would say that people at Jouve should feel very happy that we met after I had gained some experience rather than when I was a 32-year-old rooky taking up my first management position in Australia.
It is when I look back at this period of my life that I think I should have done certain things a bit differently. At Jouve I have been pleased with the changes introduced since I started and we are moving along in the right direction. 
What defines your way of doing business?
After a variety of work experiences in several countries and different industries, I must say that I now live my business life from a position of humility concerning my personal skills and capabilities.
I believe that the most important thing I should bring to the company is a culture that enables the collective intelligence to express itself to its fullest extent. I think that nobody on their own can come up with the answers to our strategic challenges.
I do not believe in individual heroism so much as in great people sharing a strong ideal and working together and in full trust to achieve it.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
In technology today, there are many bright people starting new businesses from scratch dreaming of building the next blockbuster, and I have a lot of respect for these people whom I think are the salt of our economy. I meet with some of them regularly to share ideas and explore new things and I do enjoy these meetings.
They are like a breath of fresh air! However, I usually suggest that they make the effort to rethink their last “bright idea and innovative new product” in strategic terms and more often than not, on this basis, I would kindly advise them  not to waste their energy and time on things that are exciting to them intellectually but will never pick-up commercially.
As tough as my advice may sound, I must say that I am often amazed by how much smart people waste their good time because of their excessive focus on technique while developing concepts that obviously have no future if you analyse things coldly from a strategic point of view.