Entrepreneurs Forever 2015 | Version française

Sandrine Gleize

General Manager of Caliceo

She develops one of the biggest groups of balneotherapy in France.

It's not easy for Sandrine Gleize to talk about herself, as an ex Champion swimmer who has progressively drifted away from the pool, without ever leaving the aquatic world, or her modest approach to winning.

Her young years were scented with the chlorinated odour of training sessions, essential to performance. Her good results opened the doors to UFRAPS (Faculty of Sports) for her. « I didn't want to be a P.E. teacher so I targeted Sport and Leisure Management, which at the time was a new field with rather uncertain job prospects! »
She added to her training a certificate as a Life Guard, and dived into the world of work. She went from seasonal work, a luxury spa in Courchevel, a tourist residence in the south of France, to a one-year stay in Martinique, where she was in charge of organising holiday programmes. « I really enjoyed managing both people and projects. »

You have to deserve freedom. Being free consists of exposing yourself, exploring, making proposals, trying new experiences, anticipating the future. It also implies allowing yourself the right to make mistakes and allowing others to do the same.

After four years of satisfying her travel bug, Sandrine Gleize refused a job offer from the Hôtel Martinez in Cannes, in favour of a first long-term contract as the Pool Manager in a Sports and Recreational swimming pool near Lyon. She set up her team, developed aquatic activities, implemented a Quality system including Iso 9001 certification, a rare practice in this field … and started a family.

In 2008, when she was acting as interim between two managers, she started thinking about moving into the big pool of general management. « I met a friend from my village, a professional cyclist who was enrolled on the PGM programme at EMLYON. And I knew it was for me! »
She didn't miss any of the PGM programme, relying on the help of her husband to run the family, swimming with jubilation from finances to management. « I was fascinated by the entrepreneurs in my class; I wanted to experience the same feeling whilst being an employee. »

For her memoir, she discovered ‘’aqualudism’’ and the field of balneotherapy, where new companies like Caliceo were beginning to appear. « I thought that this was the opportunity to add value to the first part of my career. »

Caliceo was founded in 1997 by a family of entrepreneurs from the west of France, owners of hotels and thermal baths built by their ancestor. Wishing to diversity, they opened the first centres in Dax, then in Toulouse. Their success lead the founders to aim for a more democratic access to balneotherapy, through centres located on the outskirts of big towns.

Sandrine Gleize jumped in, sent an unsolicited application and found herself with an offer to restructure the Lyon centre which had been opened a year earlier. « The previous manager had left in 48 hours, leaving nothing in the computer, and everything had to be started again from scratch. »

She paddled around for a few days then struck out with strong strokes towards participative management, with customers at the heart of the process. « Team spirit, cohesion, straight talking, a job well done, respect for others … are not just words to me.  »
Four years later, the Lyon centre, with a staff of 22, has a turnover of € 4 million, and is comfortably cost effective: and that performance is applauded by the shareholders.

Those same shareholders, after giving up the hotel branch, created for Sandrine Gleize the job of General & Development Manager for the whole group, which today has seven centres. « It's a little like going from Pro D2 to the Top 14 in rugby! I suggested a project in which I stay close to operations, with structuring projects on Quality, service procedures and managerial practices, in order to make Caliceo a real reference. »

EM Lyon: PGM 2010
Translation : Carole Bausor, ILTC
Date de parution : 01/06/15