There were a few warm-up sessions needed before Patrick Bataillard, a financial expert with a penchant for motor sports, was able to turn the corner towards a company with a strong entrepreneurial culture.
At the end of his studies, he had clocked up two different specialities, finance and business creation, as well as a very good track record in motor cycle racing. He joined the EY racing team: « Auditing for EY was like having another diploma ». Two years as a VIE (International Volonteers for Entreprises), in the Abidjan office polished his practical training by adding a rich human experience. « I was a long way from the head office, so I had to learn to make do, and that is a great exercise when you're still wet behind the ears, as I was! »
Back in France, Patrick Bataillard had his first test runs in a company, as financial controller for CCMC, an I.T. group which was soon to become CCMX, later purchased by Cegid. He participated in the restructuring plan… « In difficult times like those there are great opportunities for inexperienced youngsters: getting things moving becomes more important than having technical competency! »
I have a lot of esteem for those company people, salaried or entrepreneurs, who, despite everything which might obstruct what they do, collectively exercise their freedom to undertake projects, construct, innovate, move their teams forward, whilst at the same time being accountable to their hierarchy or their shareholders.
He headed to Paris in 1994: in the holding company of CCMX, then in the shareholder bank Altus Finances, he organised the reporting from subsidiaries and affiliates. But the bank was sucked into the turbulent wind tunnel of the Crédit Lyonnais bad bank. « That period taught me to enjoy restructuring and team work. And I became certain that my future was anywhere but in bureaucratic organisations! »
AT&T France recruited him in 1996, at a time when the company was tackling a difficult chicane, as a result of some strategic dithering. In his small team, Patrick Bataillard led the turnaround confidently, until AT&T decided to throw in the towel. « It was really hard to live through, and to explain to people, when you exhaust yourself trying to restructure, and then someone turns up from Texas to scrap it all. »
Then he discovered that Norbert Dentressangle, a company created in 1979, wanted to rev up its financial management team. « The transport profession didn't have a very good image. But I discovered there was a real project, a company which had real entrepreneur genes, with a healthy set of principles for delegation, empowerment, respect for the brand, and shared loyalty... »
Then he realised that to set the company apart in that sector, it had to excel in management. He set up shared service centres, with great success. « It was a bit of a breach for the group. They trusted me … yet I was the only one who thought that it would work! »
He was appointed Financial Director in 2001, and took part in major moves: the 2007 EPO on a British competitor, crisis management in 2009, thirty or so acquisitions, the buyout of a big American player in 2014… « I am proud that the finance “family” was able to evolve, to help the group to move from € 500 million to 5 billion in sales. »
In order for the company, which had become the European N°1 in supply-chain solutions (transport, logistics, Air/Sea), to double in size, he stepped hard on the pedal of transformations, whilst making sure that there was good team involvement in the projects. « My teacher used to say: if everyone whistled on their way to work, the world would be a better place! »
Patrick Bataillard never really left the control panels and the tarmac: his passion for speed and driving is still the same. And if his Ducati 998 just stays in the garage far too often, you can still meet its owner in a single seater on the Magny-cours or the Castelet race tracks.
EM Lyon: Programme Grande Ecole 1986 / Msc in Management Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC Date de parution : 01/06/15