Etienne, 29, CEO/music label owner/DJ/producer

etienne gimenez

When I hear about slashies (people who do multiple jobs, resulting in many many slash bars in their job titles), I always think of an actress/model/singer/stylist/what have you, and it now seems a bit déjà vu. However, you sometimes run into people who seem to do it all, and they’re doing it well. Enters Etienne, that I met through his music blog ten (!) years ago and who’s probably been responsible for my first club nights ever. There’s more to life than music though, so here he is.

What’s your job exactly? I’d say I have several jobs.

First of all, I’m the CEO of a pharmaceutical company that specializes in children’s products. We have about forty employees. It’s a family business that I run with my brother, and we inherited it under pretty specific circumstances. We’ve both been part of the company for a few years though! We also have a holding company and a medical representant company.

Me and my brother have recently founded a company for our two music labels, Requiem Pour Un Twister and Croque Macadam, that are specialized in rock music and vinyls. Music’s something we’ve been passionate about since we were kids and we know we won’t make a lot of money with that, so if we just cover our costs it’s already great.

On top of that, I have a modest DJ/electronic music producer career. Some say it’s not a job but I disagree: I’m paid to do it, I play abroad, I invest a lot of energy in it and most importantly I think I’m fairly good at it.

How is it working with your brother? Are you his boss? Technically in the pharmaceutical company yes, since I’m the president of the board. And we agree on most things like strategy. It’s not just with him but with everyone that we decide on things, even though I’ll have the last word. But he is the president of two other companies in the group, including one that requires a lot of attention and in which I don’t really take part. This division has been decided with our mother according to our personalities, the positions we held before and our abilities.

What did you study? Did you do internships? I studied geography with a minor in environmental studies for my Master 1 then I completely changed and did a Master 2 in sanitary safety. I interned in sustainable development, specializing in carbon footprint and I did a work/studies alternance in reputation watch.

What did you want to be when you were a kid? That has always been a problem, I’m very curious and I find everything interesting. Even after uni, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I wanted to be archaeologist, volcanologist (I was fascinated by Haroun Tazieff as a kid), then geologist, geotechnician and geophysicist. I started geology studies but I had to change and do geography because I wasn’t so great at maths.

If you could, would you do anything differently? Yes and no, for starters my current job is linked to my family’s history. I could of course have gone against that but I unconsciously knew I’d end up here. The only thing is that I got there earlier than expected. My only regret is that my job prevents me from studying, at least for now. I really wanted to work three or four years and then do an MBA. And I’d like to add something: when you’re in school they tell you that you learn every day at work, that’s not really true. I do learn things but for intellectual stimulation, there’s nothing like school and university, and I miss that! I try to compensate by undergoing training and trying to absorb as much culture as possible, but it’s not the same.

Is there someone whose career you admire? I have respect for self made men and visionary entrepreneurs who will have an amazing idea, develop it and success from it. In that aspect I really admire my father (who tripled our company’s turnover in 5 years) and my great-grandfather whose life is crazy and who founded the company I now manage.

Do you have goals for later? I want to further our family business whilst keeping the values we’ve always had.

Do you get along with your coworkers? I really do with most of them, but hierarchy and my young age prevent me from making real friends within the company. Thankfully my music related activities make my social life more interesting!

What’s your schedule? 9 to 6 Monday to Friday. No more, no less, it might not seem like a lot for a CEO but there are reasons for that:

  • after a while you’re not productive anymore. I don’t see the point in staying in the office if it’s to do crappy work, so if I’m literally falling over I’m going to take a nap;
  • I saw my father ruining his health by working too much and smoking like a chimney, I know I don’t want this;
  • if I need to work more than that it’s surely that I need to delegate more (knowing how to delegate is a big part of my job) or that I need to hire someone;
  • my social life and my music related activities are at least as important as my primary job. I find that I don’t have enough with a day to do everything I’d like to do. I usually make music at night and on the weekend, does it count as working nights and weekends?

In France (I think that’s less the case in the US), working long hours and overtime is seen as a good thing, but for me it’s the opposite: you should be able to work efficiently and to be productive during your allotted time.

What do you wear to work? Let’s say I dress normally, never in a suit because I don’t have any and I don’t like them. I should probably have one for some meetings where the image you project is important but I feel like I’m in fancy dress when I try one. I do wear a tie sometimes but more because I like it, same for shirts. No trainers except for Vans sometimes. The only thing that’s non negotiable: being clean. And I try to be stylish but that has nothing to do with work.

Do you have side projects? My next one is to create an electronic music label with a friend.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve done at a job? I don’t know if it’s crazy but we have workers and I’ve spent the day doing what one does, doing the same tasks at the same speed. The aim was to see for myself the work conditions.

Who should I speak to next? Antoine from Trax Magazine.