Introducing Dr. Laura Perret, our newest partner in Switzerland
VALPEO is delighted to introduce Dr. Laura Perret, who brings with her an impressive record of accomplishments in technical expertise, strategic coaching experience, and a passionate commitment to sustainable leadership. We sat down with Laura to know more about her professional journey, her insights on industry trends, and her vision for her role within VALPEO.
Laura, could you share with us the milestones in your journey that led you to becoming a partner at VALPEO?
“My academic journey began in computer science, and later I obtained a Ph.D. This provided me with an interesting lens through which I approach and solve complex problems. I still apply this knowledge in various contexts, and it remains instrumental in shaping my perspective on different situations in both my work life and personal life. This is what led me towards managing IT projects in schools, which allowed me to combine my technical expertise with the passion shaping the minds of young learners. I have spent more than 18 years as an expert in the development of education policies aimed at equipping people with essential skills for the future. I’ve crafted strategies to advance skills in multiple industries, collaborating with entities like the Swiss Ministry of Education, the Swiss parliament, professional associations and trade unions.”
“True sustainability integrates environmental, economic and social aspects. It’s crucial for leaders to understand that this isn’t just a cost centre, but a source of innovation and opportunity as well as a social responsibility for the future generations.”
– Laura Perret
“In 2015, I expanded my professional repertoire to include coaching, initially working with individual clients before moving on to companies and public organizations. It was through this coaching practice that I met Fabiaan [Van Vrekhem, Chairman of VALPEO], a very inspiring person. My encounter with VALPEO’s methodology was a turning point; it provided a framework that connected my diverse experiences. It closed the gap between my past experiences and my current understanding, offering valuable insights into aspects of my professional journey and related contexts. This revelation led me to become an accredited user and believer of the VALPEO approach, and ultimately a partner of VALPEO.”
What will your primary role be at VALPEO and what are the goals you aspire to achieve initially?
“My focus will be on developing the Swiss market, raising awareness about our philosophy, particularly through building leadership advisory services, amongst others the executive search, assessment, coaching and organizational development to start with. Furthermore, I‘m also leading the development of our sustainability business line. Our goal is to achieve sustainability certification that resonates with our core values, truly “walking the talk” of sustainability, and leading a transformative understanding of people and organizations.”
Sustainability seems integral to your mission. How do you approach it meaningfully, and how can VALPEO help leaders in this area?
“True sustainability integrates environmental, economic and social aspects. It’s crucial for leaders to understand that this isn’t just a cost centre, but a source of innovation and opportunity as well as a social responsibility for the future generations. We guide leaders to become aware of their role within the ecosystem and to embark on a journey that aligns their company around sustainable purpose. VALPEO’s suite of products helps to integrate sustainability into the strategy, ensuring that leaders are prepared to think and act sustainably at higher levels of operation.“
“Therefore, there is a shift in the needed soft skills today: anticipation, questioning, imagination and provocation. This ensures innovation and growth. We need to anticipate the problem, ask more questions instead of providing answers, imagine the future and provoke the change we would like to see in the world. The future literacy demands curiosity, creativity, collaboration and courage. This is not an individual approach but is inspired by collective intelligence.”
Considering your extensive background in technology and AI, how does this shape your perspective on current industry trends and leadership?
“The most thrilling aspect of our industry today is the non-linear nature of future evolution. We must listen to system weak signals and imagine various future scenarios. Leadership and advisory services must therefore foster anticipation, questioning, and imagination to provoke innovative thinking and solutions. Moreover, we tend to think of the future as a linear evolution of the present; but it’s actually a multitude of potential paths that we can navigate through foresight and creativity. We’re living in an era where soft skills like collaboration and creativity are becoming as crucial as technical skills.”
“If you are able to see and listen to the weak signals in the system that are already there, you’ll be able to imagine several scenarios in the future. These signals are the trends that will define our industry’s future. A fun fact: most people think AI is new but in 1998, I already worked with AI, developing a multi-agent system for automatic generation of school programs. Later as a researcher, I developed a system for automatically generating abstracts of medical articles. Of course, the power and potential of generative AI have become spectacular.”
We know you as someone who is constantly seeking new knowledge for continuous learning. How do you see your growth path evolving at VALPEO?
“In my new role, I look forward to leading, with my Swiss partner José Veloso, our expansion first into French-speaking market, then into the German-speaking market and shaping the future of our offerings. Furthermore, on a personal level, I’m eager to engage in new client projects and learning opportunities that will allow me to grow alongside the company. There’s a lot to learn from VALPEO colleagues and collective intelligence. Adapting to the dynamic international context of VALPEO, I will act within our specific Swiss context, harmoniously aligned with the core values and goals of our organization. The whole VALPEO organization is moving and evolving and I’m happy to contribute to that growth and bring the perspective of Switzerland into the mix.”
“The most thrilling aspect of our industry today is the non-linear nature of future evolution. We must listen to system weak signals and imagine various future scenarios.”
– Laura Perret
What role do you believe transformative leadership plays in shaping successful organizations and how will you apply this?
You can’t find a sufficient answer to the challenges you face if you don’t understand the complexity of the context in which you operate. It will be exceedingly difficult to motivate, inspire or recruit the right people. Let alone being able to contribute to the society. Therefore, I believe it starts with the internal transformation. A transformative leader must start with self-reflection in order to think, feel and act in a way that is adapted to the context. This enables him or her to create alliances and support accurate transformation of the company in its ecosystem with all the stakeholders. That’s what I intend to do, nurturing my development at VALPEO. My aim is to align myself with the core of the VALPEO philosophy and to bring my own specific contribution to it.”
Finding the balance between work and personal life is challenging. How do you manage this?
“That is a continuous challenge, especially as a parent of young children aged 10 and 12. My life is rich and full, I’m involved in a lot of networks and collaborating initiatives. I see lifelong learning as crucial element to keep me energized and regenerated. Although, my goal is to find a more harmonious balance, which will likely be my next stage of personal development. As for now, I focus on contributing positively to my environment, which in turn energizes me.”
What advice would you offer to professionals aiming for success in roles similar to yours?
“Stay curious and open to lifelong learning. Network extensively. Networking is invaluable for growth and understanding different perspectives, building new relationships and making a contribution. Additionally, select an activity that makes sense and inspires you with fantastic people around you.”
And how do you see your future?
“As for the future, I envision myself supporting organizations and individuals through transformative processes, connecting different networks and contexts to create unforeseen opportunities and foster social progress.”
Laura Perret joins VALPEO with a vision to lead and inspire. Her unique ability and commitment to sustainable practices promises to be a catalyst for positive change, driving our mission forward and setting a new standard for leadership in the industry.