Irina and Muriel talk “turning points” in international business

Business chat with Irina Tsukerman Muriel Devillers

Editorial | Women’s Roundtable Month–

March 27, 2021 

This month, Republic Underground has hosted a series of women’s roundtables that reflect upon the lives and successes of inspiring women all over the world. In this chat, Irina Tsukerman spoke in-depth with Muriel Devillers about her career as an international businesswoman.

“Hello, welcome to Republic Underground. This month, March, we are featuring a series of interviews and conversations with successful and inspiring women in honor of Women’s History Month in the United States. Today, I’m very pleased to have with us Muriel Devillers, who is an international entrepreneur and a business leader.”

“How are you?” asked Irina Tsukerman.  

“Hello, Irina, how are you? It is good to meet with you today,” said Devillers.  

“It’s very good to see you again. I wanted to start, before we get into the really heavy-duty discussion about business and international travel, I wanted to ask you about your personal background. Where you were born, where you did you grow up, and who were your role models growing up?” asked Tsukerman. 

Devillers then dove in to telling the story of her life, and how she, as a single parent and a woman raised in many nations developed her career.

“Okay, so I was born in Paris, France, but I was raised in several countries. In France, the U.S, and Switzerland. My father was an entrepreneur. And, I’m not that young anymore, so let’s go back in time. 

She studied law and political science, and started in public relations for Nestle and Revlon.

“But I was not really happen, let’s say. One morning, we always had coffee at the coffee corner, and I met a very well-known journalist.” 

She was invited to meet with the journalist and learn more about this career field. 

“So, I started to learn about journalism, which is, in fact, the other side of public relations. 

Back then, I had boiling blood. I was in a radio station where you had to apply the rules “as it was” because at that time you had to work the way that the government wanted. That journalist said to me ‘okay, you’re not happy. I can see it, but guess, we have pirate radio now, would you like to start some?’ So, I said “yes” and I jumped. 

She started four pirate radio programs which later developed into free radio programs.

 

Devillers then described her life in the radio industry that continued until she met someone. After her marriage, she continued to pursue her career on a freelance basis. 

“So, I worked for that, and I was so happy. I was myself, I could do whatever I wanted. It was really fantastic. So, I was working in Paris for radios, but then I was called once in Chicago to help a radio station. Then, in Orange County to help set up a group, which is still existing, it was “Israel Today.” It went on and on and on until I found a man of my life. I went to the Netherlands. I had three kids. Let’s say I went on working as a freelancer by that time.” 

She said that she had three children and a dog. 

“Then, I got divorced. It was not a good man or the right one. I went back to Paris. In Paris, I wanted to launch a company. The French people told me that I was too old and that I had my kids so it was not possible. 

I got an offer to move to Luxembourg. I moved there. I took some lessons because they offered me a job as the director of a fiduciary so I had to catch up with my law lessons and so on. I went on like that until the crisis in 2008.”

The turning point in Devillers’ career was the financial crisis of 2008. She called this her “turning point” and mentions how she took her kids to San Diego because she wanted to set up a company there, which she did. 

“”That was the turning point for me. The first turning point was, I took my kids, and we moved to San Diego. Because I wanted to set up a company over there. I did. Of course, it was the financial crisis. The idea of my company was good, but a bit too early for the market. My kids didn’t want to stay in the U.S., so I took everybody back to Luxembourg, where I started my own company once more.”

In this return journey to Europe, Devillers became a business mentor.

In this return journey to Europe, Devillers became a business mentor.

“That’s incredible. Actually, I wanted to go back because there were so many great things. You were growing up between France, the United States, and Switzerland. What was that experience like? You ended up going into law. Was that something you wanted to do? How did you decide to move into that area which you later found was something you were not interested in? What vision did you have growing up and how did this international experience inform it? asked Tsukerman, turning the conversation more toward Devillers background.

Devillers credits much of her inspiration to her father.

“It was very important to me. My parents were really movers. My father was working for an international company, namely Kodak, so he was moving a lot. So, I saw him moving, working, and moving again. So, I saw him really working. moving, and working again and really stepping up, and so he gave it to me.”

Devillers commented then on her diverse experiences in international travel and relocation and noted the importance of learning from the local surroundings and the people in them when moving between foreign places.

“You are there, very humble, and you need to learn from the others. So, by moving, by traveling, you learn a lot. So, as I say now, I’m not anymore French. I am global. My passport says I am French, but I am not.”

At this point the conversation turned to more in-depth topics regarding international business. Keep checking back for more updates on our Women’s Roundtable Month and discussion notes from Irina and Muriel’s international business chat.