Born in Strasbourg, to a family of industrialists, Valérie Bisch knew at a very young age that she would one day lead her own company, “as my father did”. As for which specific industry, the answer would reveal itself early on in school: “In Year 10, I participated in an internship at the Hilton in Strasbourg. It was inside this beautiful hotel that I realised what my future vocation would be”. With the baccalaureate in hand, Valérie entered the prestigious EHL (Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne) at just 18 years of age. Graduating by age 21, she achieved her first professional milestone when she rose to the rank of manager at the Champs-Elysées McDonald’s. One year later, she joined the Hilton in Paris on Avenue de Suffren, where she was responsible for both banquet coordination and outside sales. Curious about everything, she was on a mission to keep learning, keep moving, familiarize herself with different companies, and rub elbows with other groups.
VALÉRIE BISCH: HER EARLY CAREER
The year is 1999: Four Seasons Hotel George V was about to reopen its doors following an ambitious renovation effort. Valérie Bisch submitted her candidacy and was then hired at the luxury establishment in an outside sales capacity in addition to taking the lead for the English market. In 2002, the Hotel de Crillon came across Valérie’s profile, which they saw as the right fit for a sales and marketing director position. She accepted the challenge. Soon after starting at Crillon, the responsibility of recruiting a sales manager fell on her shoulders. It was while looking at the fifteen CVs submitted the she realised: “Not one of these profiles is what I’m after”. So, she became convinced: “There is certainly room for improvement in the field of recruitment and human resources”.
THE LAUNCH OF TOVALEA
From 2004 to 2008, Valérie stepped away from the hotel business to play the role of “young mother of two”. It was during this time away that she began laying the foundation for her concept of the ideal recruitment firm. Her vision was that of an enterprise that would mould itself to be the antithesis of the chilly, sanitized, dehumanized and unaccountable headhunting agency. She would call it Tovalea, officially formed in 2008 with its first office opening its doors in 2012 at rue Bosquet, close to the École Militaire. In 2017, a second, more spacious location was opened at rue José-Maria de Heredia, near the UNESCO building. Tovalea’s general priority was the same then as it is now: “To welcome candidates in a friendly manner, offering a boutique-like experience”.
At Tovalea Executive Search, it’s not our style to summon—we agree on a date and we come together.
For Valérie Bisch, recruitment in the 21st-century means “being even more attentive to the choices we make, because it is unthinkable and even impossible to consider putting our candidates in the hands of exploitative recruiters”. As for the candidates themselves, “the profiles that really inspire us and grip our attention are the authentic ones. Because it is difficult to place or integrate people who mask themselves in artifice”.
Her definition of the word resource: “Every person we encounter draws from one or even several important resources—it is up to us to discover them.”
Her definition of the word human: “People are indispensable in our line of work, and yet the human dimension is often the most neglected.”