design / created by By the WWW...

April 2021

Interview with Marianne Abib-Pech

Marianne Abib-Pech

A career in a nutshell
On her blog Marianne introduces herself as a catalyst of business, ideas and people. splitting her life between Paris, London and Hong-Kong. She defines herself as a pure product of Corporate America, having spent most of her career in Finance, working for Arthur Andersen, Motorola and others General Electric. In the span of 10 years she rose from analyst  to Global CFO of the business unit of one of the Big Oil companies (Shell). Recently Marianne decided to start a new chapter in her career and to join the entrepreneurship movement as she calls it. She wanted to fully embrace the concept of  a “portfolio life”.

In addition of using her finance skillset  by advising oil and gas deals, and sitting on several boards  – Marianne launched Leaders-  a leadership consulting business and is a regular  columnist for Global Corporate Venturing, the Independent, and the Huffington Post. Being in the Netherlands for some presentations and the promotion of her first book DIVAZ had to opportunity to meet with her.

The wandering gene
Marianne has lived and worked 80% of her life abroad. “Even if I was born and raised in France,  I never actually worked there. Being, partly jewish I think I carry what I like to call the ‘’wandering gene”. I have always  loved to travel  and I believe I was only 11 when I travelled alone for the first time on a student exchange program”. It was no wonder that she would study abroad. “I went to study abroad, in the United Kingdom , and…well  never came back”. It is obvious that having the wandering gene took Marianne all over the world. but having a dual cultural background also helped her in her career as allowing her to fully embrace difference, and put different lenses to problem-solving.

The corner office
Marianne is the former CFO of Shell Aviation and also had some succesful jobs previous to that. On the question how she planned her career or what strategies she applied she is very clear. “I don’t really believe in career planning! I believe in one’s ability to know their strenghts and be open to seize whatever comes their way. Personally I am  an “option-person”, always looking to create several possibilities to choose from”.

On the question what her drive was when she was younger to be ambitious, she answers that she always wanted the “corner office”, play with numbers and be in a decision-making mode. It was a young girl’s vision but somehow it did sum up to what a CFO does. How did she make it happen? “With hindsights,  I would boil it down to four  concepts. Know who you are and what you want. Believe in yourself and somewhat in your luck., and as a woman do not try to compete but differentiate”.

The writing gene
The life story of Marianne’s career is not over yet… She left the corporate world to become an entrepreneur and in the last 18 months set up two companies, but more importantly wrote and published a book about Leadership. “When I was a child, my grand-mother always told me that I should work with words not with numbers- it might have taken me a long time to get there… but she might have been right all the way” she recalls. The Financial Times Guide to Leadership- How to lead effectively and get results is actually her second book. She first wrote a book about women in leadership positions, their journey, their feelings and their advice. “I was drawn to the subject a couple of years after getting my CFO role at Shell- I was wondering what I needed to get to the next level, knowing I also wanted to do others things- I looked for a book both inspirational and action prompting… but I could not find anything I liked.. so decided to write it myself.!” She admits she got quite a bit of push back from publishers  and when the Leadership book with the FT came up, decided to act “strategically”. “I thought  securing a prestigious publisher like the FT first was  very aligned from a branding perspective with the previous part of my career and would cater well for smooth transition into a new… me!”

Leadership of the future
Marianne wrote in one of her columns: “This is the challenge I want to pose to the 5th edition of the Peter Drucker Forum, let’s hear it from the BRIC, the next eleven, the women, the twenty something, and the African (they are the paradigm shift) and let’s debate colloboration and leadership tomorrow…”  She believes that far from being in crisis the world is in a complete state of transformation. “We are witnessing the birth of a new world connected, fast paced, uncertain and highly volatile.  I think this new world is calling for a stronger value set, a stronger sense of purpose and a supreme ability to build long lasting strategy. It will require identifying, nurturing and developing a new type of leaders, leaders truly in tune with their humanity. This is what Leaders- my leadership consulting business – is aiming to do for any organization willing to have forward looking strategy about human capital. It is the start of a new chapter”.

More information about Marianne Abib Pech:


Interview: Fatma Kaya