LOGISTICS IS ALL ABOUT STRATEGIC PLANNING, OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE AND OPTIMIZATION; FINDING THE RIGHT STEPS TO FOLLOW IN A DYNAMIC WORLD AND ADAPTING THE COURSE WHEN NEEDED.

Françoise always knew she wanted to work in the private sector with an eye for global interactions. As an undergraduate, she studied International business and marketing at McGill, and later pursued a Master’s Degree in management, mathematics, and statistics at HEC. Upon graduating, she joined L’Oréal as a product manager, soon moving to Mexico City as the company’s Mexico brand director. She devoted her career to building the brands of reputable companies such as Louis Vuitton and Palacio de Hierro, and creating the needed foundations for the expansion of others such as Walmart and Tesla. After initiating a career as an Angel Investor, she was presented with the idea for a startup seeking to disrupt the world of logistics she had spent her life building. It was an instant fit and, after a handful of conversations, Françoise joined the company as a cofounder and co-CEO, bringing with her years of expertise and an appreciation for global logistics.

Logistics is all about strategic planning, operational excellence and optimization; finding the right steps to follow in a dynamic world and adapting the course when needed. If all works smoothly, a product will be delivered efficiently to hundreds of customers, putting together complex supply chains that turn ideas into reality. If, on the contrary, supply chain operations are neglected, companies will leave millions of dollars on the table. Thus, to fully understand the complexity, one must become ingrained in them and visualize the many steps that could soon be plagued by mistakes. 

Such, at least, is the sentiment one gets from talking to Françoise and hearing her story. One of a deep passion for global trade and a resilient approach to overcoming its challenges. To her, it’s not just about studying logistics from afar, but of going deep into operators’ everyday life and understanding the pain points, finding the opportunity to simplify their work and decisions with improved tools. It is about gaining clarity across broad cultural, legal, economic and geographic contexts. 

At times, the parallels were unintended. Even before she was born, both her parents decided they would spend their lives seeing the world that lay outside their native Canada. Soon after Françoise’s birth in Quebec, her family moved to Caracas, Venezuela, only to later relocate to Brussels, Bogotá, Ottawa, and London, where she finished her French High school Baccalaureate in Economics. With every change of scenery, she became more exposed to the expansive nature of international markets and naturally came to understand what was required to operate in different regions.

Amidst constant change, a sudden certainty emerged. From a young age, Françoise knew she wanted to devote her life to growing organizations across markets. The certainty was such that, one Halloween, when she was only ten, Françoise went as far as dressing up as a business woman with a name tag, suit and briefcase included. When time came for university, it was only natural that she would major in international business as she returned to Canada to study at McGill. At the time, Françoise became deeply appreciative of theory trying to gain the necessary tools to understand grounded complex realities. Graduating from her undergrad at 20, she immediately enrolled in a Master’s Degree at HEC—also in Montreal—to further her knowledge in statistics, mathematics, and management.

Yet upon graduating, she would be exposed to the challenges of the real world. As a recent addition to the workforce, Françoise joined the product team at L’Oréal where she was pushed out of her comfort zone. The organization deeply believed that sales could not be boosted unless product managers like Françoise understood the market beyond the theoretical numbers at quarterly reports. So she was put on the road, traveling across Canada to understand the market, making her accountable for sales with aggressive goals. Françoise, an introvert by nature, was forced to interact with hundreds of customers and, in the process, grow out of her own shell to get the results she was so motivated to achieve.

At this time, another opportunity arose for Françoise to grow. It required to move, once more, and, in so doing, return to Latin America; a region she had called home while growing up. L’Oréal was seeking a brand director for Mexico and, in what had now become a maxim, she decided to truly immerse herself into the market, moving to Mexico City and starting a new life. But now, it wasn’t the sudden shifts of her childhood, changing the country every couple of years. Instead, Françoise was ready to bring order with her as she arrived in Latin America and began a professional career there.

Thus, Mexico became her home and, in a way, the place where all past lessons merged into one. Françoise maintained her deep appreciation for learning by studying the country’s dynamics thoroughly to truly understand the market. But, as a deep commitment and profound belief in its efficacy, she decided to involve herself with as many steps of the process as she could, be it understanding product, production, design, operations, sales, marketing or strategic planning and people – immersed in understanding how they made decisions.

It was at this time that Françoise’s perspective would take a global turn, seeking to understand more complex forms of supply chains impacting the lives of millions. After L’Oréal, she went on to hold key positions in Louis Vuitton, Walmart, and Palacio de Hierro. And, in so doing, she developed an appreciation for markets beyond Mexico. When working for Louis Vuitton, she helped expand the company’s presence in Brazil and South Africa—taking multiple flights to each since, as she had discovered, it was imperative to see the markets herself to make the right decisions. With Walmart she interacted with suppliers across the world in Italy, the UK, China, Vietnam (to name a few). And in Palacio de Hierro, she maintained close contact with international brands trying to establish a presence in Latin America. With every new experience, she was faced with a complex supply chain that needed, desperately, to become more efficient and incorporated to local realities.

Once Françoise had established herself in supply chain management, she received an offer to lead the expansion of an up and coming startup interested in making the next generation of electric  vehicles: Tesla Motors, founded by Elon Musk. The company wanted to enter the Latin American market in a matter of months, giving her a small time frame to explain the realities of Mexico, the country’s complex system of regulation and build an efficient productive operation in the region. But, with her past experience, Françoise was able to identify what moved the needle for the company quickly and focus on this to build faster. She would travel back and forth between the company’s Bay Area headquarters and Mexico City to push forward with expansion. At the time, her home became a de facto facility for Tesla engineers, using her patio to adjust all the necessary details for the company’s electric vehicles. It was just as fast paced as her past positions, with an air of entrepreneurship and innovation often absent from traditional companies. Given her propensity to create all that was needed and achieve the harshest deadlines, Françoise gained a nickname that follows her to this day: Chief Make it Happen Officer.

Once she finished her time with Tesla, Françoise decided the best way to contribute to supply chain optimization was to look for those companies with the same entrepreneurial spirit to break established patterns to achieve great results. She became an angel investor, putting capital into companies that were making an impact across the world. It was precisely in a meeting for similar investors that she first heard two entrepreneurs seeking to disrupt the world of logistics by using cutting edge Artificial Intelligence tools. Those were Diego and Austin with the earliest demo of Auba.

From the get go, Françoise saw the potential in their product. Across her years working in optimizing supply chains and managing international brands, she had never found a tool with as much understanding of users and seamless deployment as what Auba had shown. Impressed, she put together an impromptu meeting with a dozen other investors and potential clients to see if the perspective was widely held. After the pitch, everyone wanted to get a part of the company and Françoise confirmed what her experience was telling her, that this solution was profoundly disruptive and necessary for today’s large enterprise leaders who need to scale their businesses.

After a handful of conversations, she was asked to formally join as a co-founder at Auba, bringing with her all her past experience to a new challenge: transforming the industry she had once operated in and had been so deeply immersed within. But such is needed to truly achieve change. Logistics, again, is an art of balance. Not just of the many points in a supply chain, but of understanding its inner workings in order to push it for the better. That is the key purpose of Auba and, in a way, of Françoise’s life: to create a new generation of supply chain solutions out of experience and understanding.