Our guest: Patrick Coltel
For this first edition of “Into the confidence of…”, Julie MUNOZ, ITD Communications Manager, is honored to invite Patrick Coltel, a telecom industry veteran.
Patrick started his telco journey at France Telecom (now known as Orange). When he met Jerome Perret, he was the head of the Supply Chain for Globtel in Slovakia (Now Orange Slovensko). Then, they worked together at Dutchtone (later known as Orange Netherlands), where Patrick was the CTO before becoming the Vice President of Operations at LDCOM in France for a few years. In 2004, Patrick returned to France Telecom as Field Service Manager and Intervention Director.
In 2010, he chose a radical change and embarked on a new adventure: founding IT-Development with Jerome. A liberating and unprecedented experience for Patrick, which gave him a taste for entrepreneurship. It will lead him, ten years later, to the ownership of the bookstore “La Droguerie” in Saint-Malo (France) and to create a new company, “My Book Box.” And to devote himself entirely to his passion: the world of books.
An incredible profile that we are curious to interview. Follow us!
In 2010, you left the world of mobile network operators to start a new business venture with Jerome Perret. Together, you created IT-Development. What do you remember from this collaboration and adventure?
Patrick Coltel: “This is probably the most exciting adventure of my career! In life, we do not often get opportunities like this… or when we do, we don’t see them. I feel lucky to have met the ideal partner to launch this project with. Naturally, we are used to getting close to people who are like us. In this case, it was different. With Jerome, we have always been complimentary, and I am not just talking about our age gap! [laughs] He is an operational guy, who is used to entrepreneurship. I am a manager who comes from the biggest companies in the sector. This difference was our strength. It was even in our personality, and it impacted our approach to solving problems. Even though we sometimes confronted each other, we always said it. We were always able to convince each other, if necessary. Finally, we made the right decisions together. It’s a better way to work! This way, we developed an original product. No management software like this existed at this time. We were convinced that it would respond to a real need of telecom players, and ten years later, we saw the result.”
After more than 20 years in the telecom industry, you have decided to turn the page and get closer to your passion: literature. How did you come to this decision?
Patrick Coltel: “This desire has always existed. Since I was a teenager, I dreamed of owning a bookstore. But I am a wise person. I did not want to be driven by passion. And more than that, I needed to be accompanied in this project. So, I felt so lucky that my wife has the same passion and the same desire. So, we embraced the opportunity as soon as it came up.”
Do you still keep an eye on telecoms?
P.C.: “Even if books are my passion, it is impossible to forget my decades in the telecom industry. I no longer have any business in the sector, but I still follow the news with a distant eye. I notice that in twelve years, a few things have changed in terms of process management. The technologies are evolving, but the way actors manage their processes remains the same.”
What attracts you most to entrepreneurship?
P.C.: “At Orange, I spent a lot of time dealing with internal politics. I rarely touched on the concrete implementation of our work. Thanks to entrepreneurship, I am my own boss. I produce, and I see the result quickly. Also, I wanted to be creative. Being at the origin of a project and doing what you want is very satisfying. I like to discover new fields, whether it be: telecoms, music, books, publishing, etc., and entrepreneurship offers me that.”
What were the main difficulties you encountered during your career?
P.C.: “The relationship with my managers was a real challenge! Sometimes, it was so difficult that I imagined a training course on this subject. This is one of the reasons why I left companies during my career.”
How did you overcome these difficulties?
P.C.: “My advice: don’t hesitate to leave companies as soon as the opportunity appears! I am also convinced that people should be trained in managing the relationship with their hierarchical superiors. In a company, crises can occur simply because the manager does not know how to manage his teams. During my career, I have had a very temperamental boss. He was interested in everything and therefore had an opinion on everything. That created tension. I learned a lot about dealing with that situation. When it was my turn to take on this role, I made sure that I did not manage everyone the same way. I tried to adapt to each personality. Some people needed support, others wanted autonomy. In my opinion, to be a good manager, you must learn to adapt. That is how you make people grow. The keys: support, identify the strengths to improve skills, and then identify the weaknesses to bring help. This is what I learned and tried to put into practice.”
What is your best professional memory?
P.C.: “Once again, this happened in my entrepreneurial years. Jerome and I won a contract with the French operator Free Mobile at the beginning of the IT-Development journey. It was a powerful moment! We were a start-up. Free was also a newcomer and we knew that they had a reputation for internalizing solutions. So, when we signed, it was a real victory.”
Will you finally retire one day?
P.C.: “What is real retirement? I don’t know… [laughs] So, if we are talking about going walking in the mountains, forget it!”
Interesting, let’s switch now. Ask me a question!
Patrick Coltel: “Well Julie, how is it working with Jerome?”
Julie Munoz: “Good question! I have been working with Jerome for one year, and I could say that he has the soul of a businessman but he keeps human values. As a manager and company leader, he knows how to challenge his teams to improve their skills. In summary, I would say that you share the same management keys. Perhaps, you are not so different! 😉”