Throughout her life, Elaine Rémy has been guided by faith. Faith in herself, in others and in the Creator. With her natural curiosity, optimism and her love to connect with people, Elaine’s purpose is to empower others. She enables professionals to discover, deepen and develop their strengths so that they can be as best as they possibly can in intercultural settings.
Born and raised in England to Jamaican parents, Elaine is the fifth child of six siblings. When she was a child, Elaine wanted to be like her older sister who was studying to become a primary school teacher and, at the time, lived in the French city of Marseille. The letters she received from Marseille, as well as the colourful stories her sister shared about different habits and lifestyles of the locals, opened up Elaine’s imagination to new cultures. As a young adult, Elaine went on to study French and Spanish at the University of Bradford in England. This led her to a study abroad semester in Belfort, a city in the north-eastern part of France. What started off as one semester abroad transformed into a few years’ living and working in Paris, Strasbourg and in the surrounding region after finishing her degree. The next three-and-a half-year stop on Elaine’s itinerary was the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, where she held different office positions and pursued her studies to gain skills as an executive assistant. Elaine’s journey then took her back to England to work as an executive assistant. That stint, however, lasted less than a year, as she was strongly drawn back to France – this time to the Paris region, working as the executive assistant to the Director of the former radio station Tropiques FM. Still based in the Paris region, the itch to be her own boss and to be free prompted Elaine to take the plunge to become an independent English trainer, thus also fulfilling her childhood desire to be like her sister who is now a specialist teacher for students with specific learning difficulties (SpLD). Realising that people not only need to have English language skills, but also the sufficient confidence to successfully operate in business settings, Elaine decided to launch Confid’English (combining the words “confidence” and “English”) and English with Ease. On top of that, during the last two years, Elaine has been focusing on intensively developing herself, having completed several programmes on intercultural management with WorldWork and personal leadership with the John Maxwell Team. This new expertise has enabled Elaine to recently launch her latest platform, Devel’UPing YOU, offering personal assessments, training and coaching to professionals who work internationally and cross-culturally.
Emerald Jaaz is honoured to speak with Elaine Rémy, a beautiful soul and a passionate networker, who is based in the Essonne area, near Paris. Having succeeded in aligning her professional activity with her true personal essence, Elaine is fully living out her purpose – and, naturally, thoroughly enjoying it!
“When someone does you wrong, I’ve learnt that you have to be on a “higher level”. The notion of love as a weapon of mass destruction has worked for me more than once!”
– Elaine Rémy
Emerald Jaaz: Elaine, what do you enjoy the most about your current lifestyle?
Elaine Rémy: I enjoy the freedom to organise my time as I choose to. My time is so precious! I also value that I do what I love: personal growth, for others and for myself. It makes me feel light and alive. I also enjoy attending international events as this enables me to meet new and interesting people and build relationships across the globe. This freedom allows me to fit in regular travel, nourishing my adventurous and creative side. I have many projects on the go!
Emerald Jaaz: What does your current professional activity consist of?
Elaine Rémy: I guide international professionals to (re)discover their strengths and to (re)gain confidence in their business roles. The tagline of my latest brand, Devel’UPing YOU, is “Your International Breakthrough”. YOU is an acronym which stands for Yourself, Others and Us. I provide professionals the necessary tools to navigate in their international context with ease. In today’s globalised world, it is very rare that business interactions stay only on the regional or national levels. To succeed professionally, it is becoming more and more fundamental to have the skills to work with people of various cultures. Since each culture has its particularities, the differences must be understood and behaviours appropriately adapted in order to find common ground. I also help professionals on a personal level to become better leaders. Knowing how to operate in the international context and being able to lead teams effectively and with confidence are, in my view, factors of success and satisfaction. It is very rewarding for me to positively contribute to others’ fulfilment.
Emerald Jaaz: What made you choose to live the life you do today?
Elaine Rémy: From an early age, I have always been interested in discovering different cultures and helping others. I am also very curious and quite adventurous by nature. When I was a child, I wanted to be like just my older sister, who was studying to become a teacher. At one stage, she was working in Marseille, in the south of France. She would send me letters recounting how life was there: for instance, the colourful clothes hanging from the windows drying in the sun or the different eating habits of the French people. Sometimes she would send chocolate bar wrappings like the ones I was used to in England. All of that sparked my imagination as an eight year old! That reinforced my desire to be like her. When I was 12 years old, my sister invited some of her French friends to her wedding and I fell in love with one of them! All I could say in French at that time was “Salut, ça va?” (Hello, how are you?), so we definitely did have a “deep” conversation! I then went on to study French and Spanish at university. I have been living in France for about half of my life now. Just like my teacher sister, I also help people to develop themselves. So I did end up becoming like her in many ways! On top of that, I am a very independent person. Following my various experiences working for someone, I decided to be my own boss so that I could manage my time on my own terms. I have found my calling and I am living out my purpose.
Emerald Jaaz: What are your main interests and passions; and what causes are close to your heart?
Elaine Rémy: I have many interests! On top of my passions that I have transformed into my professional activity, I also love to sing. As an example of the genre I particularly like, here is a link to the song “Ta Création” that I recently recorded with Xavier Cairon. I am also a very sporty person and am interested in nutrition. Generally, I focus on living a healthy lifestyle. I suffer from an inflammatory disease called endometriosis. Endometriosis causes excruciating pain and is one of the main causes of infertility in women. A mixture of alternative medicine and nutrition has helped to relieve the pain and to get the inflammation down. I also regularly have sessions of Iyashi Dôme. The Iyashi Dôme is an individual Japanese sauna with infrared heat that – unlike the traditional Finnish sauna – makes you sweat from the inside for deep cleansing and detoxification. Also, a social enterprise project that is very close to my heart and that I am currently preparing is to go to Jamaica, the country of my ancestors, to help women and girls suffering from endometriosis. There is a common everyday word in Jamaican patois, “Irie”, which means something like “everything’s fine”. Recently, when I was lying in bed, I asked God to guide me regarding this social project. What then came to me is quite amazing: I gradually saw the word “Eyeri” which looks very much like the commonly used Jamaican “Irie”. Out of “Eyeri” I made “Ease Your Endometriosis by Reducing Inflammation”. I am now trying to join the various dots in order to go to Jamaica and put this project into action to help local women and girls.
Emerald Jaaz: What do you like most about Essonne, the place where you currently live in?
Elaine Rémy: I live in a very nice place, just outside of the big city of Paris. It is very peaceful with lots of greenery, a river and woods. It reminds me of where I grew up in England. After years of moving from one place to another, today I feel settled and happy living where I do in Essonne.
Emerald Jaaz: What is the source of your inspiration and motivation?
Elaine Rémy: My amazing Mother inspires me. She has very strong faith in God and is extremely strong-willed. I really admire my Mother for dealing with cancer with such a positive attitude. Even at this stage where the cancer is terminal, I’ve never heard my Mother say a negative word about her condition. She was actually released from a palliative care center as the staff there said she didn’t need to be there… She was too joyful! Addicted to life! My Mother is definitely one of my biggest sources of inspiration.
Emerald Jaaz: Please give us an example of one of your typical days.
Elaine Rémy: I start most of my days with something spiritual. I either listen to the podcast “Un Miracle Chaque Jour” (Daily Miracle) on my smartphone, or I pray, meditate or read scripture. After that, I go downstairs and drink warm lemon water while I prepare a fruit salad to eat later during the day. At the moment, I work mainly from home and very often use the practical Zoom application for virtual meetings. Depending on my mood, I have lunch or not. My afternoons are either dedicated to keeping fit and healthy or seeing clients. On the days when I work out, I usually do some form of cardio training and have sessions of Iyashi Dôme (Japanese sauna) – both of which do wonders for me. I prepare dinner from scratch. Before I go to bed, I read and plan my work for the next day.
Emerald Jaaz: Please give us an example of one of your ideal weekends.
Elaine Rémy: On Saturday mornings I like to have a lie in and sometimes prepare a real English brunch as a treat. I buy most of the ingredients from Marks & Spencer. My ritual is to clean the house in the afternoon whilst listening to inspirational live teleconferences from the John Maxwell Team faculty and then do the food shopping. I love trying out new recipes from a gluten- and lactose-free dessert recipe book, which the SOS Médecin doctors in Meaux gave me as a gift. On Sunday mornings, I enjoy walking to church. The 25-minute walk there is very relaxing and picturesque. I savour the beauty of the nature, the ancient architecture and the charm of the old town. After the service, I enjoy meeting friends in the area for lunch, after which we all go for a walk in the forest with their dogs or heading out to Paris to spend the afternoon at a museum or exhibition with a friend. In the evening, I like to watch a film and then I plan my week ahead.
Emerald Jaaz: Among the places you have visited, which one moved you the most?
Elaine Rémy: Jamaica left an incredible impression on me. The only time I’ve been there so far was when I was 25 years old. It moved me to the point that I cried as soon as the plane landed. It felt like a missing piece of the puzzle to my life. I visited my many relatives. The conditions of life are very poor there. As I connected to the land of my ancestors, I was moved beyond words. I would wake up very early to see the breath-taking sunrise from the mountains. In Jamaica I had the very best coffee I have ever had in my life! My aunt would pick the coffee beans from the garden and dry them outside her house in the sun. I need to go back! I plan to return when the time is right so that I could contribute to the community by helping Jamaican women and girls who suffer from endometriosis.
Emerald Jaaz: Which place do you like to return to regularly and why?
Elaine Rémy: I love to return to Montperreux to visit some close friends. Montperreux is a charming village in the Doubs, just on the border with Switzerland. My friends live in a lovely house with a beautiful view of the lake. They have an adorable little boy and, altogether, we like to go for walks in the forest or we sometimes cross the border to visit Switzerland. We simply enjoy spending quality time together in such a lovely place.
Emerald Jaaz: Which place would you like to visit that you haven’t yet visited?
Elaine Rémy: I would love to visit China and to see my brother who lives there. The other destination on my list is Israel, for its spiritual side. My trip to Israel is already planned for later in the year. I can’t wait!
Emerald Jaaz: Please share with us a couple of your favourite places to hang out, to eat, to mingle, to reflect or simply to watch the world go by.
Elaine Rémy: I have one favourite restaurant in Paris. It is an Italian restaurant called Pizzebio, situated in the centre at Chatelet. Everything is organic and the pizzas are gluten-free, not to mention totally delicious! I also love the friendly and cosy atmosphere. I also enjoy wandering around Montmartre.
Emerald Jaaz: Any recent cultural tips?
Elaine Rémy: In today’s inter-connected world, I recommend that you become more aware of how you function in international contexts. I believe that self-awareness is a fundamental competence that is essential for good interpersonal relationships. As relationship-building becomes even more complex when you add culture to the mix, I think that is very important for international professionals to develop their personal and cultural intelligence.
Emerald Jaaz: What motivates you to achieve your goals and to get out of bed in the morning?
Elaine Rémy: My inner drive and my calling are my motivators. Saying yes to this inner drive gets me out of bed in the morning. It is the hope that things will get better and that I will continue fulfilling my purpose. I am a very tenacious person. I can’t give up and I am very resilient. When I experience a setback, I get back up and do all I can to find a solution. My strong faith guides me.
Emerald Jaaz: What are you most grateful for?
Elaine Rémy: I am most grateful for my faith. The faith that I have allows me to connect to the Creator of the Universe. I see it as a human-spiritual partnership, where each side does their part, like a team. As a human, I am limited; whereas the Creator is unlimited. I tap into that and it helps me on my journey. Thanks to my faith, I always feel a presence. I never feel lonely.
Emerald Jaaz: What values are key to you?
Elaine Rémy: Honesty: being truthful to yourself and to others is fundamental for me. Hospitality is also a value for me. I cherish generosity and sharing: being able to give of yourself, show your vulnerability, sacrifice yourself, since I believe that it is not always about you. Of course, faithfulness is a guiding value for me. Another important value for me is confidentiality, which is linked to trust, and refers to the respect for intimacy. From a professional perspective, I believe in “working smart” rather than “working hard”. We need to work for the right reasons, with the right people and at the right place!
Emerald Jaaz: Please share with us an important lesson you learnt in life.
Elaine Rémy: I learnt that love is a weapon of mass destruction. Love breaks down barriers. Once I was at a church service and the focus was on doing good to your enemies and to the people who have hurt you. I said to myself that I would challenge that. At one stage, there was a person in my sphere who had hurt me pretty badly. One day, I had an opportunity to meet a need that this person couldn’t meet. The outcome was that it broke down barriers. From then on, when anybody tries to hurt me, I do something that destroys the negativity. I have witnessed numerous times that a real transformation in the other person can happen. It is so strong that, in their hostility, they even tend to feel embarrassed by such an act of love. When someone does you wrong, I’ve learnt that you have to be on a “higher level”. The notion of love as a weapon of mass destruction has worked for me more than once!
Thank you wholeheartedly, Elaine, for sharing your powerful story with us and for giving us an insight into your generous soul!