I had the pleasure of chatting with Myriam, Head of Accounting, Tax & Cash Management at Wakam for two years now! Passionate about her job and full of life, she told me with a lot of humour and humility: how you go from a literary prep school to accounting, her career path and why she decided to join us. Her credo: «alone we go faster, but together we go further»!

Hello, can you introduce yourself ?

My name is Myriam Marc’hadé, I am 50 years old, and I have been working for Wakam for 2 years. I have a rather original background in my job because I have a literary background. I then went to Sciences Po in Grenoble where I specialized in Economics and Finance.  13 years ago I fell into the cauldron of insurance accounting which I love. It was a real turning point in my career!

But how do you go from literature to accounting?

(Laughs) To be quite honest, it’s a bit of reason, and a lot of chance that led me there. I told myself that it was going to be difficult to live from my art! More seriously, as I am very attached to my freedom, I wanted to be in a job that recruits, hence the financial departments.

Even if I arrived by reason and by chance to the functions which are mine, I exert my job today with much interest and enthusiasm.

What did you do before joining Wakam?

I was for 6 years Accounts Manager for BTP Prévoyance.

Then, I worked for almost 7 years at Generali as Social Accounts Manager for Generali France and then as Portfolio Manager for transformation projects, mainly in accounting. Being able to combine the requirements of a very regulatory job with a project dimension within a position is very enriching and mind-opening!

Why did you decide to join Wakam?  

I joined Wakam for two reasons.

The first one is that I wanted to work in Paris! It’s important to say this because there are many companies that choose to go to the periphery of Paris. At Wakam, we are lucky to have amazing offices in the heart of Paris (Sentier). I am extremely sensitive to my work environment and I think it’s great to work in our beautiful building.

The second reason is that I wanted to be in a company where the decision-making process is fast. It was an essential requirement because it determines the work rhythm. In fact, this is what allows you to have an impact on your job and therefore to feel the added value that you can bring. And that is really, really, REALLY (really?) nice!

You are «Head of Accounting, Tax & Cash Management» at Wakam but what exactly does that mean? 

In a nutshell, my primary mission is to guarantee the production of the accounts of all the Group’s entities, which must be «signed off» each year by an external auditor. I am also in charge of reinsurance accounting, another specific and technical aspect of our sector that is very interesting. And finally, I am also responsible for taxation, a demanding subject in terms of monitoring, which makes it exciting.

I am also responsible for operational cash management. Obviously and fortunately, I am surrounded by a great team, without which nothing would be possible! We are constantly working on continuous improvement, which adds a transformation/project dimension to our daily work.

If you had to explain your job in one sentence?

Guarantee the proper application of regulations and be a business partner to other Wakamees.

Isn’t it confusing to come from a big group where there are a lot of processes to Wakam where you had to start from scratch and to put everything in place?

Oh, but that’s exactly why I came! To take the best of my previous experiences and adapt them to the DNA of Wakam. It’s very rewarding to see the evolution of your work according to what you’ve put in place. But it requires having a solid and flexible structure at the same time, which is interesting.

If you had to describe the culture at Wakam, what would you say?

The first thing that comes to mind in connection with what was said before is «the culture of efficiency». Things are moving fast and all Wakamees are committed to making things happen. The «Free To Impact» which is a bit like our mantra, is not at all a communication argument. We live it every day!

Then, the flexibility or rather a real open-mindedness about the working conditions, the schedules, the place. It’s very appreciable! We are really in phase or even ahead of phase with the societal evolutions we are experiencing.

And finally, tolerance. At Wakam, everyone is free to come as he or she is. This is not a rule, it’s a fact!

You mentioned the word «team» several times. I have the feeling that it is something very important for you. Can you tell me more about it?

(Without the slightest hesitation) Oh yes, completely! I always tell them: «alone we go faster, but together we go further» and I am convinced of it.


What we do is really a collective effort. My priority when I arrived was to write a roadmap with a target organization chart and to create my team. It took a long time and it’s not over yet; we’re still recruiting! But today I am very proud of the group we form and happy to work with them.

In this collective, autonomy and solidarity coexist.

One, two, three teamwork!

What do you think about the insurance sector?

I think it’s an incredible industry with a terrible image. And it’s a shame because it’s a very interesting sector. It’s never very sexy when you say you work in insurance. But I think it’s an exciting industry!

Insurance is something that protects us from life’s accidents. It is essential that it exists. Above all, we reinforce this dimension by becoming a mission-driven company in March 2021.

Furthermore, I think that insurance is a very rich observatory of society. By seeing the evolution of insurance products, we can measure societal changes. There is a sociological dimension to insurance that is quite fascinating. The products distributed by Wakam totally reflect this.

What a typical week looks like at Wakam?

No typical week! I divide my time between my team, even if they say I don’t have enough time for them*, meetings and transformation projects. I also must respond to some emergencies. Time flies!

*If you put this in, you’ll see that they’ll be grumbling (so they’ve been grumbling?!)

What are you working on at the moment?

At Wakam, we are always looking to optimize our organization and our way of working. For example, reinsurance accounting and cash management have recently been placed under my responsibility. So we are working hard on this new organization.

And of course, we are always working on improving our accounting processes to be even more efficient, for today and tomorrow, in conjunction with the other offices, Data, IT, Transformation, etc.

Finally, December is the month when the financial staff prepares the year-end accounts. We are very busy at the moment!

Something you are super proud of that you did at Wakam?

A transformation project called «Comptacabana».

It allowed us to move from an annual closing to quarterly closings. I went to see the Transformation Office last year and we set up this project. We had to mobilize more than 20 people from different Offices (IT, Data, MOA, Technical Management, Reinsurance, etc.) who all responded!

Thanks to this project, we have reviewed and boosted our accounting and financial processes. It was a great experience to see this mobilization throughout the company. We were all focused on the same objective and the success of this project.

Another project is the transfer of reinsurance accounting to the Accounting Department. In concrete terms, today it is the accounting department that is responsible for drawing up the accounts for the reinsurers. This was a very good project carried out in 2021 because this type of project shows that the back office has a role to play in the relationship with our business partners.

The copacabana beach of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil
What the «Comptacabana» looks like (or not!)

If you could add one thing to the offices?

We are lucky to have beautiful offices, so I won’t add anything! 

If you could change jobs, what would you be? 

It’s a secret! I know what I would do and I really hope to do it one day! But it’s so far away from what I’m doing now… I’d rather keep it to myself (laughs)!

If you could switch places with someone for a day?

At Wakam, I would love to switch places with the Claim Office. I know that sometimes they go out in the field to do appraisals, it sounds exciting! I would also like to go with Denis (Chief Mission Officer) and Timothée (Head of Inclusive Insurance chez Wakam) to see everything that goes on around the Mission and our commitments.

What advice would you give to Myriam when she was 25?

To be less impressionable!

A little routine in the morning to start the day when you work from home?

I always come to the office! To be quite honest I don’t really like working from home, so I don’t do it. My routine when I arrive is of course to have a little coffee!

If you are a coffee lover, you can relate!

Your favourite restaurant next to the offices?

We have so many choices! But recently I tried Spoon and I loved it!

Any last words?

Being in line with your professional environment changes everything.

Interview conducted in December 2021.

 

Emilien Matte

Brand Content & Social Media Lead