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XXIV - 2016

by SCMP

XXIV 24

Henri Giscard d’Estaing gave up politics and became a president

The son of former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing loves travelling and discovering many countries and cultures

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 November, 2016, 9:16am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2016, 9:02am

Henri Giscard d’Estaing could have engaged in French politics. However, he chose to dedicate his career to the private sector, and the president of Club Med has no regrets.

“Politics is a very respectable field. When I was 20, I was very involved in politics. I was even the youngest elected person in France [as a Conseiller Général], but I was already having thoughts of a job in the private sector. I was convinced that I should not live off politics. And in politics, it is difficult to grow in the shade of a large oak.”

That large oak was his father, former French president Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, who served from 1974 to 1981. The young Henri was surrounded by some of the most influential and ambitious people in society, yet, he chose to walk a different path altogether. He quickly found his calling in a role where he could orchestrate the perfect time-out for people on holidays. “It was the idea of being able to put myself in the service of products and brands of the company that guided me to choose this path.”

Giscard d’Estaing craved for vastness of the world, which was given to him at Club Med. “I am fortunate to have a fascinating job in an exciting company, [which] is present all over of the world with nearly 70 resorts. I am required to travel regularly for meetings within our resorts and in our offices. Therefore it’s all about having a good balance of organisation by building stimulating work schedules and free time to walk around and enjoy the spa between two plans.”

I was convinced that I should not live off politics
Henri Giscard d’Estaing

The company proved to be the perfect partner for Giscard d’Estaing. The hospitality brand is best known for its family-friendly designs and orientation. And family is key to Giscard d’Estaing. “I try to find the right balance between the time that I allocate to my professional duties and the time I spend with my family. These two components are compatible even though my family is also travelling a lot. I regularly try to spend a family vacation at our resorts, not for work but simply to let go.”

The spirit of adventure overtakes Giscard d’Estaing at every turn, whether at home or at one of his company’s resorts. “I enjoy going on long walks. When I am visiting a resort, I insist on discovering every nook and you must know that our resorts are rather big.”

Being in the countryside around the family country house in France is a time Giscard d’Estaing always looks forward to. He attributes this to his love of nature and his sensitivity towards sustainable development challenges, which is another facet he brings to work. “As part of my duties, I give great importance to the fact that our resorts meet environmental and ecological standards. I obviously love travelling; I need this openness to the world. With my job, I get to discover many countries and cultures.”