[PROFILE] Athéna Montuoro (Grande École 2013) - To be, to live, to take action
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’ve just turned 30, and I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 20, I love the freedom and adventure. I started out by setting up an art-café gallery with my sister while I was a student, afterwards I went to live in India and opened creperies. This project was not a success, and when I finished my studies at the age of 22, I had a bit of a crisis - the kind some people have at 50. I had a big think about what I wanted to do and which direction I wanted my life to go in. I followed my passion and got into lingerie, creating the Badines brand, which I managed for five years.
Just as I started to think about what I was going to do afterwards, I got the opportunity to take over managing the family hotel in Anjou. It was a huge learning curve and very intense, but something clicked and I heard another voice that had been calling me for some time: that of ecology. Entrepreneurship is good. Running a business to be part of a better world is even better. I felt carried along by an extra energy. So I bounced back again, with a new sense of accomplishment, because I realised that we can no longer carry on destroying things, consuming, throwing things away, destroying, consuming, throwing things away, and doing all of this while becoming more and more unhappy and alone ...
What do you mean by that?
I find there are two big needs in society today for which too few solutions exist: on the one hand there is a search for meaning, and on the other a search for harmony with our environment. We want to take back control of our time and our jobs. Sometimes we want to leave everything behind, and start all over again, but without knowing exactly where to start, and how to do something tangible for the planet.
I now organise retreats, training programmes and transformational events, which help people to live more in harmony with themselves, and with the environmental challenges that await us. The events are called "Etre, Vivre, Agir" (To be, to live, to take action) and the aim is to prompt people to leap into action and to unleash individual and collective potential.
What do you remember about your time at IÉSEG?
I loved studying at IÉSEG. I was on the Lille campus, and I met some amazing people both on campus and during my time in India and the United States. Now, after all these fresh starts, I think what the School did in particular was give me the "frame of mind" to allow me to have the overall vision to start a business.
What is your greatest achievement?
Launching my lingerie brand (a field that was completely unknown to me), setting up everything from start to finish and breathing life into it for five years was a source of real pride for me, even though I’ve moved on since then. It taught me to be unafraid of jumping into the void. When you are on the right track, motivated and hardworking, I believe that the right opportunities, people and information come to you.
Do you have any words of advice for our new intake?
It's not easy being a student in 2020, but I would encourage them to be as open as possible to everything the School, and life, has to offer. Don't be afraid to step outside the box, listen to what makes sense to you. It is the journey that is important, not the destination!
Step this way if you want to follow Athéna on her new adventure: