“I returned to Chad to be useful in my country”

Head of Permanent Control for Societe Generale Chad, Falmata Tchelou Adam has lived on two continents. Profile of a woman committed to changing mentalities.

Determined to succeed from a very young age

After spending her childhood in Chad, at 10 years old she left her native country for France. “There was an unstable political climate following a coup”, she says. “My father entrusted us, my brother and I, to my aunt so we could receive a good education”. Although it was hard living so far from her family, she quickly fit in and worked relentlessly to succeed at school. After she obtained her law degree, this hard worker joined a French administration legal department and then a legal firm specialising in immigration law. In 2014, though, she decided to return to Chad. “I wanted to be closer to my parents and try to be useful to my country”. 

First woman on Societe Generale Chad’s Management Committee

Whilst some friends kept reminding her that at 32 years old it was time she got married and became a mother, she preferred to look for work. And that’s how she ended up at Societe Generale Chad as Compliance Officer. This fighter rapidly climbed the corporate ladder and, two years later, was appointed Head of Permanent Control, the job she has today. “My role is to improve the Bank’s various processes and control every type of risk”, she explains.

In 2016, at a time when the Group was seeking to reduce gender inequality, Falmata became the first woman to be a member of Societe Generale Chad’s Management Committee. “It was an honour, but also very stressful”, she reminisces. “During our first meeting, I was closely scrutinised, but the men were very welcoming and some of them congratulated me. Despite my fears, I succeeded in showing my male colleagues that I was just as competent as them. We rapidly enjoyed a relationship of equals”.

Changing mentalities

In her conservative country where few women are in positions of authority, getting to the very top of the hierarchy is an exploit. But the new generation, like Falmata, is seeking to change this. “With my other colleagues in senior positions, we want to show our sisters, our female friends, our daughters that it is possible to have both a great career and a successful home life”.

Many women, after studying or working abroad, return to their native country to improve its development and change mentalities. “In Chad, women are raised to be good wives: many stay at home with their mother whilst their brothers go to school”, laments Falmata. “That’s why I’m out there getting involved, through the “Dakouna Espoir” charity association that helps street children in N’Djamena, the capital, to help them find a path back to school or get training”.

Shooting for the moon

With the other volunteers, this woman in her thirties reaches out to many orphans, destitute youths, to organise fun workshops. “I thus, in early January, met Meloum, a young girl who dreams of becoming a lawyer”, she confides. “I decided to help her achieve this dream by assisting her with her homework and encouraging her each time we meet up. I want to show all young girls, whatever their situation, that you need to be ambitious. My father always told me that girls had to work harder than boys to achieve the same: he always encouraged me to shoot for the moon!” Keep fighting and aim high: a message Falmata is now seeking to pass on to every little girl in Chad.