In our series featuring people who have changed career in France, ex-car industry executive, Simona D’Isanto, explains why her focus changed following the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015.
I started my career in the automotive industry, working at Ducati in Italy, where I grew up.
Then, in 2009 when I was 36, I moved to France and began working as an executive for an electronic parts supplier alongside companies such as Volvo, Chrysler and Ferrari.
It was a high-level position and I would often be travelling – over the years, I worked in Holland, northern Europe and the UK.
My time was never my own and the work was incredibly demanding.
I was successful, but after a few years I began to wonder whether the job was right for me.
I did not feel as fulfilled as I wanted to be, but I was not sure how to make a change.
‘I felt lucky’
I lived in Paris, and the night of November 13, 2015, is one I will always remember.
I was not directly affected by the attacks, but I had a near-miss that left me questioning everything.
The attacks happened in a few different areas in Paris – and by coincidence I had passed through all of these areas shortly before everything happened.
I felt lucky that I had not been caught up in the attacks, but it was an important moment for me too – the near-miss forced me to think more about my life and what I was doing with it.
I wanted to find fulfilment and also a way to help others.
‘I worked hard to retrain’
I decided to train as a psycho-practitioner and enrolled to train as a psychologist with ACP-France.
Over the next five years, I studied hard, learning multiple methods to help clients with trauma.
I travelled to the UK to learn Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) with Tania A Price, one of the masters, and I am licensed in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) with the American board of NLP.
I also have a rare diploma in IET (combining EFT, NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis), and studied sophrology, which is very popular in France.
After quitting my executive role, I used savings to fund my studies and took several part-time jobs to support myself.
After two years, in 2017, I was sufficiently qualified to open a small practice alongside my studies.
Covid made new business global
By March 2020, I had been running a thriving practice for two years, but everything changed when lockdown happened.
Unable to commit to seeing clients face to face, I took most of my work online.
This move enabled me to reach people beyond Paris.
I now have clients in Canada, Australia and Singapore.
I do still see a few clients in person in Paris, but the majority of my work is done online.
The world has changed dramatically since I had my epiphany in 2015 and the work I do seems more important than ever.
People’s problems and worries have changed too: when I started, people were anxious about their personal life and careers.
Now so many people are worried about things happening in the wider world.
From profits to people
My last job came with a lot of stress – I had to manage huge contracts with a number of different companies.
My time was not my own. I could not make my own decisions about my workload and focus.
Working for myself, I have so many different hats to wear to run a business – it can be stressful.
But I love the fact that I have full freedom over my decisions.
I only take on clients I feel I can really help, and I listen to what I want and need too.
Before, I was working in an industry where the focus was always money, power, profit and career.
Now my work is all about people and wellbeing, and I am so much happier as a result.