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Q&A with Julie Murat

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Julie Murat, Co-founder & COO @ Bridge for Billions

How would you describe your career path in a few words?

My career path has been driven by a desire to align my work with my values and make a positive impact on the world. Growing up in a loving and financially stable family in Paris, I was fortunate enough to have access to education and cultural opportunities. However, I also became aware at a young age that not everyone has access to the same resources.

I have always been passionate about social justice and economic empowerment, and as a teenager, I informed myself about the issues surrounding capitalism and its winners and losers. This led me to the realization that access to education, opportunities, and resources are crucial for creating a more equitable society.

One of the key turning points in my journey came when I read "A World Without Poverty" by Muhammad Yunus, the Bangladeshi economist and Nobel Peace laureate who created the concept of microcredit. This book showed me that by providing small loans to individuals, we can give them the opportunity to start their own businesses and lift themselves out of poverty.

With this in mind, I decided to study business, with the goal of using my business knowledge for good. After completing my studies, I began my career at Fairtrade International, an NGO based in Germany that works to ensure fair prices for farmers in the global south. While I was passionate about the mission of the organization, I found that working within a large NGO with a hierarchical structure did not allow for the level of innovation and agility that I desired.

In 2015, I met Pablo Santaeufemia, Jaime Mateo and Jessica Kou (now my cofounders) who shared my vision of creating entrepreneurship programs that were inclusive and diverse, and could empower people around the world to start their own businesses. Together, we founded Bridge for Billions, an organization that supports purpose-driven entrepreneurs who want to not only make a profit but also make a positive impact on their communities.

Today, I am committed to continuing to work towards economic empowerment and equality of opportunities, and to making a difference through my work.

What was your most challenging experience and has it changed your mindset?

One of the biggest challenges that social entrepreneurs face is the risk of burnout. When you are deeply passionate about a cause and have strong beliefs about how the world should be, it can be easy to become consumed by your work and neglect your own well-being. Additionally, the work of a social entrepreneur can often feel never-ending and overwhelming, making it difficult to find a balance.

I have personally experienced this challenge and have taken steps to overcome it by learning more about the topic, working with coaches, and discussing it with other social entrepreneurs. I have also trained myself in coaching to help others increase their awareness and hopefully avoid this problem.

Another challenge that I have encountered as a social entrepreneur is leadership. At Bridge for Billions, we have grown from four co-founders to a team of almost 50 people today. This has presented a leadership challenge as we work to ensure that our team members at all levels have the self-confidence, tools, support, and awareness to lead others. To me, leadership is about setting a vision that inspires others to work towards and understanding the needs of the team. It's a continuous process of learning and improvement.

When you get surprised by an unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

As entrepreneurs, uncertainty is an inherent part of our daily lives. We must navigate a constantly changing and complex world, often making decisions with limited information. Questions such as whether we will be able to win the trust of a customer or retain a team member are constant challenges. Furthermore, as humans, we all have our own aspirations and fears, which can add to the uncertainty of the interactions with internal and external partners.

To manage this uncertainty, I have learned to take a step back and analyze the situation before making any decisions. When faced with unexpected challenges or problems, I strive to understand the root cause in order to make an informed decision. This involves asking "why" repeatedly until I reach a more consistent understanding. This approach helps me to understand the mindset and behavior of those involved, which can be key to understanding the situation and making the best decision.

Based on your experience, what's the key success factor for a female leader/manager?

In my opinion, the key to success as a leader, regardless of gender, is focusing on one's strengths. Over the past year, I have learned that it is essential to understand what your strengths are and how to use them to your advantage. Additionally, it is important to collaborate with others to compensate for areas where you may not have as much strength.

For example, some of my strengths include enthusiasm, common sense, pragmatism, a drive for self-improvement, decisiveness, and the ability to build relationships. I try to capitalize on these strengths in my work and make the most of them. However, I am also aware of my weaknesses, such as a lack of critical thinking and a tendency to be less efficient.

To overcome these weaknesses, I make an effort to surround myself with people who have complementary strengths. For example, I may work with someone who is very analytical and critical to compensate for my lack of critical thinking. Similarly, I may work with someone who is highly efficient to compensate for my tendency to be less efficient. By leveraging the strengths of those around me, we can find the best possible solution or outcome.

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