On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, the Department of International Business Administration and the Office of the President invited Beatrice Cointreau, former President and CEO of Champagne Gosset and Cognac Frapin, to speak to an audience of AUP students, faculty and staff on the subject of woman entrepreneurs and mentoring woman leaders in the business world. Cointreau has over 25 years of experience as a CEO in the wine and spirits industry and has served on the boards of over ten companies, including the Renaud-Cointreau Group.
After an introduction from AUP’s President Celeste M. Schenck, in which Schenck also discussed Cointreau’s recent efforts to mentor students, Cointreau discussed the difficulties she initially experienced as a woman in a male-dominated business environment. “I was invited to the party, but not invited to dance,” she said, highlighting her exclusion from certain decision-making processes within the company. Despite these barriers, her view was always that it was possible to have it all. “But one step at a time,” she clarified, highlighting that she initially prioritized her career before starting a family later in life. “It’s very important to set your goals,” she continued. “And they are going to change over time. You are not the same at 20, 30 or 40.”
Cointreau advised students to be constantly trying new things and to challenge themselves in ways that worked for them – not in ways that others imposed on them. “The thing you have to do throughout your professional journey is think outside of the box,” she concluded.
Following the talk, President Schenck conducted a Q&A in which she asked what advice Cointreau would offer budding entrepreneurs in the audience. “My first advice is: be ready to work,” said Cointreau. “Also: design your mission. We’re not all meant to be CEOs, because it's very lonely at the top.” The event concluded with further questions from the audience, which continued in a post-event discussion over wine and cheese.
Watch the full video of the event below.