Back to the testimonies
Salime Nassur, Fondateur et dirigeant de Maars
Salime Nassur

Founder and director of Maars and former marketing director at Google

The importance of behavioural skills

The years of study are crucial, not only for acquiring the hard skills such as marketing, law and human resources that are essential in your first jobs, but also and above all for developing the soft skills.
In an ever-changing world where technical skills can quickly become obsolete, the ability to interact effectively with others, to practise active listening and to demonstrate resilience and curiosity is essential.

I often tell students never to stop learning. Just because you've left the EM or other institutes doesn't mean you should stop learning. Learning is an ongoing process. It's crucial not to become obsolete.

These years of study also teach group work. Collaboration is fundamental and is very well integrated into the school. Group work teaches you not only to produce together, but above all to manage individuality. Whether you're working in a large group or in your own company, you'll always be confronted with individuals. Being in constant contact with others and understanding how to work with them is a real structuring factor in your studies.

Discovering the Internet

During my studies, the idea of setting up my own business was taking shape. That's how Normanet, the first web design agency in Normandy, came into being, some 30 years ago.

Discovering the Internet in 1995 was a revelation; I was fascinated by the infinite possibilities offered by this new world.

It's hard for anyone listening to us to imagine a world without the Internet. But back then, the Internet didn't exist when I started my studies. Discovering the Internet during my studies made me realise that the field of possibilities was unimaginable. In fact, my final dissertation was devoted to how the Internet was going to change the way we work. Almost 30 years earlier, even before setting up my own company, I had made contact with an ISP in Caen. 

After meeting them at a trade fair, I proposed an exchange of departments: teaching them marketing in exchange for their Internet training programme. This mutually beneficial collaboration led to the creation of my first company before I left the EM. I continued this activity for two or three years while working at Orange, first as a marketing assistant, then as marketing manager. The sale of my company almost coincided with my departure from Orange, at the height of the Internet bubble, when I was director of the Wanadoo Pro business unit.

Starting from scratch

In the early 2000s, my marketing manager, who had lived in Greece, suggested that we start a consultancy business in Athens through his contacts. So we started an Internet and telecommunications consultancy business, while enjoying the pleasant climate. During an order for pastries, which revealed our greed, the mediocre quality of one pastry led us, despite our lack of knowledge in this field, to open a pastry shop, motivated solely by our appreciation of cakes. Aware from the outset that I didn't want to be involved in anything long-term, I sold the business to return to France and start my family.

Back in tech

After getting married and having children, I returned to the technology sector, my speciality. Despite a foray into the world of pastry-making, my return to France was marked by the interest of recruiters, mainly because of my skills in technology, despite the reluctance of some to recognise the versatility of my experience. This situation illustrates the lack of recognition of cross-disciplinary skills in industry, although this is beginning to change. On my return, Alcatel Lucent made me an offer. 

Considered the flagship of French industry and a pioneer in several technologies, Alcatel offered me a job as marketing director. However, the merger with Lucent created a cultural rupture, revealing a lack of alignment of values that prompted me to leave the company. 
I was starting a new company when I got the call from Google.

The Google experience

My experience at Google, a company renowned for its agility despite its size, was rewarding. I held the position of Marketing Director for Southern Europe, and then extended my responsibilities to EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa). This experience gave me a perspective on intercultural differences and the effectiveness of remote working. 

Finally, I was asked to focus on France, one of Google's key markets, while retaining cross-functional responsibilities and initiating global projects. 

As head of operations for Europe, Africa, the Middle East and France, I also led global initiatives, including the launch of a global account-based marketing Programme. My role extended to the US and Asia, where I acted as Google's evangelist, a position that allowed me to showcase future innovations to a variety of clients. My work with many companies to facilitate their digital transition included organising learning expeditions. These have brought executives from all over the world to Silicon Valley to learn about technological advances and understand the importance of adapting business models and mindsets to technological progress.

From well-being at work to the Maars Project

Between 2013 and 2014, I initiated a vast pan-European study demonstrating the correlation between individual well-being, team harmony and increased productivity, a deep conviction that has guided me in my actions. This study revealed that increased well-being in the workplace could lead to a 30% increase in productivity. On the strength of this finding, I went on to do more research into the influence of a positive state of mind and the methods that can be used to strengthen this disposition, both individually and collectively. In 2015, I came up with a project. 

When I left Google in 2020, I set up this project called Maars, inspired by my discussions with psychologists and my reading. Maars is based on five pillars of commitment that are essential to the effectiveness of a team and an organisation: mission, autonomy, action, relationships and health. The mission lies at the heart of our quest for meaning, which is fundamental for both the individual and the company. 

The alignment of personal values with the company's mission is decisive for the day-to-day motivation of employees. This observation leads naturally to the first pillar of Maars: autonomy, aimed at giving everyone the means to achieve their autonomy. 

Maars is not just a set of pillars, but a global concept, based on the conviction that collective well-being is essential to personal fulfilment. Two books have emerged from this reflection.

The first, entitled 'Bestitude', explores the synergy between being the best you can be and having a positive attitude, even in the face of adversity. The second, aimed at my children and by extension at all students, offers "10 tips to activate your life", a pragmatic guide to navigating working life where, unlike academic paths, nothing is predetermined. This book is the fruit of my experience and the lessons I have learned along the way, a testament to the conviction that anything is possible if you give yourself the means.

Today, we live in a world where anything is possible. I invite all students and others to develop projects. We live in wonderful times.


Back to the testimonies