Etienne Deffarges: I Am Living Proof Of The American Dream
An Interview With Vicky Colas
“Perseverance is also a key requirement for any immigrant to America, because of the very lengthy and somewhat bureaucratic process to reach citizen status. There are dozens of hurdles to overcome. None of them is unsurmountable or even very challenging, but when added on top of each other they create a marathon of sorts — fourteen years in my case from first landing to citizenship, including three mandatory years abroad.”
Is the American Dream still alive? If you speak to many of the immigrants we spoke to, who came to this country with nothing but grit, resilience, and a dream, they will tell you that it certainly is still alive.
As a part of our series about immigrant success stories, I had the pleasure of interviewing Etienne Deffarges, Co-Founder and Operating Partner, Chicago Pacific Founders, a private equity firm focusing on health care delivery providers. Etienne is a serial entrepreneur who participated in several IPOs and exits — most recently Accumen, a health care laboratory excellence company, in January 2019. He is the author of “Untangling the USA: The Cost of Complexity and What Can Be Done About It,” published in July 2018 by Routledge, Taylor & Francis, and writes frequent articles in the areas of health care, energy & the environment, and government policies. He serves on the boards of Alain Ducasse Enterprises (ADE), Atrio Health, Clever Leaves, Sight MD, the Harvard Business School Alumni Angels, and is a board advisor at AEye. He is also a member of the Executive Council at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Between 2004 and 2014, Etienne was part of the founding management team, EVP then Vice-Chairman of R1 RCM, a health care IT company, which was launched with $17M of committed capital and became cash-flow positive after $4M deployed. He took the company public in May 2010, at a $1.2B valuation. He also established the company as an industry shaper and health care partner with the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Before, Etienne was Global Managing Partner of the Utilities Practice, and member of the Executive Committee and Global Management Council at Accenture. He participated in the company’s IPO on the NYSE in 2001, at a $14B valuation. He was the first Market Maker at Accenture, negotiating several billion $ deals successfully. He also founded Accenture’s Energy Advisory Board, chaired by Secretary George Shultz, and was a member of the Aspen Institute. Prior, Etienne was Senior Partner and Global Practice Leader, Energy, Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals with Booz Allen Hamilton, and member of the firm’s Executive Committee. He counseled CEO clients around the world, and many governments such as Japan’s, in strategic areas like energy policy and the environment.
A U.S. citizen since 1993, Etienne holds a MBA from the Harvard Business School, where he graduated as a Baker Scholar; a MS in civil engineering from UC Berkeley, where he was a French Government Fellow; and BS/MS degrees from ISAE/Sup ‘Aero in aeronautical engineering. He is a private pilot, and fluent in five languages, having lived in Continental Europe, Scandinavia and South America as well as in the U.S.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
My father was a professor who worked for the French foreign service and when I was growing up, we lived in very different countries, Brazil, Denmark, Spain, and Brazil again. During my childhood, my father drove us everywhere — literally. My parents took their four children all the way to the northernmost reaches of Europe, hundreds of miles North of the Polar Circle. And then, through the Amazonian forest in Brazil and all the way South to Argentina.
The one thing most of these countries have in common is wide open spaces: The Argentinean Patagonia is larger than Wyoming, but this wind-swept territory between the Andes and the Atlantic is only habited by 400,000 people — and, it must be added, 4 million sheep and 40 million penguins! Similarly, at the other end of the planet, Sweden, Finland and Norway have more reindeers than people in their forests, mountains and tundras North of the Polar Circle. Spain’s interior has vast empty areas, with extreme temperature variations: How many people know that Dr. Zhivago, with all its harsh winter scenes, was filmed in Soria in Castile and Leon? And that The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and other “Spaghetti Westerns” were filmed in Almeria and Granada in Andalucia?
Mountains or seashores, hot or cold weathers, I grew to love large geographic expanses with relatively few people, principally when associated with beautiful landscapes like in Southern Patagonia and Northern Norway. I dreamed of tall mountains falling into the ocean, meadows full of flowers and fjords. At the very least I wanted to live in a scenic part of the planet. From a practical standpoint, this meant that even though I had to study in Paris for my undergraduate engineering degree, I was certain that I would never aspire to live in such a mega city. But I also wanted to have a rewarding professional career, and at that time France was a very centralized country, with good careers difficult to find outside the capital.
Was there a particular trigger point that made you emigrate to the US? Can you tell us the story?
When I was a child, in the mid to late sixties, my father would often regal us at the family dinner table with descriptions of America’s might: He would talk endlessly about the industrial capitals of the world, Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh; but also about smaller, but still powerful cities, like Erie, Pennsylvania, the “locomotive factory for the world,” Akron, Ohio, the “tire capital of the world,” or even Flint in Michigan, where “so many great General Motors cars are made.” Like all children of World War II my father had a fascination (and gratitude) for U.S. industrial power. After all, American industrial production had saved the world from both German Nazism and Japanese militaristic imperialism. In doing so it created unheard of prosperity for all Americans, industrialists and workers alike, the envy of the world. Despite the very generous and effective Marshall Plan, it is hard for most Americans to fathom the enormous differences in standards of living that prevailed between the U.S. and Europe then. When my parents got married in 1956, both of them worked as professors. Yet, the only mode of transportation they could afford was a 125cc motorcycle. In the US, they would have had a large automobile, if not two…
After my first year of college, an American high school friend of mine invited me to spend the summer with him in the U.S. His family lived in Washington DC (wow, the Fourth of July fireworks!) and had a summer home in Sarasota, Florida — not too far from Orlando, so we got to visit Disney World. After that, we embarked in a tour of the country with a monthly pass for unlimited travel on Greyhound buses. Having very little money, those buses were also our home. When we wanted to spend a second day in Houston to see the local NASA center, we spent the night safely in a couple of buses going to and from Dallas and taking a shower at the terminal. Ditto for San Antonio and the Alamo, Los Angeles and Hollywood. Then we arrived in beautiful San Francisco (the ocean, the bay, mountains and those 22 hills!), where we found a $1 a night youth hostel that even we could afford. I do not remember if it was due to the fact that I could sleep in a real bed for a few nights, but I fell in love with the city and its Northern California surroundings. Beautiful, pristine nature was also close at hand, with the rugged Pacific coastline; giant redwood forests; magnificent state parks; and the Sierra Nevada among many other geographical wonders.
A few years later I became a freshly minted French National Aeronautical Engineer, with a government fellowship to study for a MS in America. I was admitted at three universities, but it was clear from the beginning that where I wanted to go was the University of California at Berkeley. There, what I had experienced a few years before got confirmed, in spades. I enjoyed the Bay Area, but also hang gliding over the Pacific, motorcycling through Yosemite and skiing near lake Tahoe. Everything became clear to me: I wanted to emigrate to America, and I would live in the Bay Area. As I mentioned to my parents, “it is like Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, with an amazing geographical setting, incredible vistas, but also a strong economy and great potential careers!”
Can you tell us the story of how you came to the USA? What was that experience like?
The American Dream is made of hard work, perseverance and ingenuity, “90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” My personal story, from landing in the Bay Area with a suitcase, a university admission and the $300 per month stipend from my fellowship, to the fulfillment of a rich personal and professional life, illustrates this well.
So, here I was, aged 22, with lots of enthusiasm and a strong gallic accent, studying at the University of California in its beautiful Berkeley campus. My experience there was wonderful, but upon asking immigration authorities if I could stay in California after completion of my studies — I had already several job offers, all conditional on a working visa — I was told in no uncertain terms: “No, because your studies were financed by a foreign government, you cannot stay.” Never mind, I went to work for Schlumberger, a company doing oil & gas field works, and after three years in Argentina, Brazil, Peru and Venezuela, I got admitted to the Harvard Business School (HBS). Field work pays, principally in tough conditions like Patagonia and the Amazon jungle, and when asked how I would finance my MBA, I just replied, “cash.”
Now 26, I was in Boston for a couple of years. And this time, upon graduation there would be no visa problem, since I had financed my own studies. Now the hard work would start. I embarked on a management consulting career with Booz Allen Hamilton, and a temporary H1 working visa. Since this was the mid-eighties, before Silicon Valley became the dominant force it is today, I had to explain, and re-explain to my prospective employers (and friends as well) that no, I did not want to live in Paris, New York, Boston, Chicago or Los Angeles. It had to be San Francisco! My geographic focus probably doubled the number of job interviews I had to go through…but perseverance always pays.
I bought my first house, a beautiful little Victorian on top of a hill, and was really enjoying life in San Francisco. I also got to know the local airlines very well since consultants fly a lot — although then I could leave my home in the city half an hour before take-off! Different times…There were a few professional scares along the way, since Booz Allen had an “up-or-out” system of promotions (or firings) every 2–3 years, with my precious visa on the balance. But somehow, I managed to climb the ladder, got promoted to partner after six years, and with the partnership came my sponsorship for a green card. And then full citizenship two years later, at an impressive ceremony in a large hotel in downtown San Francisco, minting 1,400 new U.S. citizens. Now I could stay forever! My, this journey from Berkeley and a temporary student’s visa to citizenship had lasted fourteen years…
Professionally, things continued to work well: Senior partner, and then global practice leader, member of the firm’s leadership committee, managing almost a quarter of the business. I had definitely exceeded my expectations when I had joined fourteen years earlier. But there was better to come. I was recruited by Andersen Consulting, essentially to do the same thing but on a much larger scale. Things moved fast: Separation from the accounting branch Arthur Andersen, creation of Accenture (“Accent on the Future”) and in 2001 we enjoyed our $13 billion IPO, which was then the largest one to have taken place on the New York Stock Exchange. I was a global managing partner, the company’s first global market maker, and member of the global management council and executive committee. This move to technology — a natural thing to do in the San Francisco Bay Area — had worked very well for me. I was getting outside recognition, having attended the World Economic Forum at Davos a couple of times, and being a regular member of the Aspen Institute Energy Forum. At Accenture, I also founded the Energy Advisory Board, chaired by my mentor George Shultz. With a couple of dozen energy company CEOs and economists — including one Nobel Prize — we went on to develop paths to ween the U.S. out of its foreign oil dependency.
One thing was missing in my career, though: Entrepreneurship and the creation of a new company. The opportunity duly came in 2004, and I became part of the founding management team, EVP then Vice-Chairman of R1-RCM, a healthcare IT company serving hospitals that was started with my Accenture Group CEO and financed by a HBS classmate of mine. I had waited until I was 46 to be an entrepreneur. By that time, I had the right experience and backing to succeed. Sometimes it pays off to be patient! Think about it: To launch a company while maximizing its probability of success, you need to have a vision of a business area of significance that is broken and needs a new solution; a good product or service to address this “burning house;” a deep knowledge of the technology you will create and use; a clear idea of who your first potential clients are going to be; a thorough operational understanding of what it will take to achieve early revenues and profitable growth; a mastery of finance to assess how much funding you will need for your start-up; and the experience and network to secure financing quickly so that you can concentrate on running the company and growing the business, as opposed to spend all your time fundraising. Uncle! That is a lot to do, and for many people it takes time and experience to master all these skills, which are fundamental requirements for a successful entrepreneur. Blessed with the required skills, willingness to burn the midnight oil and the required dose of good fortune, we went in six years from the proverbial “blank sheet of paper” to our $1.2 billion Wall Street IPO. A unicorn, before the term became a household one…Being on the NYSE trading floor representing the company during its public trading debut was the crowning moment of my career. My parents were proud of me, and my father never tired of saying, “the American Dream? It is my son!”
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped make the move more manageable? Can you share a story?
There were many…When I think of the beginning of this journey, though, I would have to be especially grateful to my Berkeley roommate Steve Marks. Steve was studying for his JD and PhD in economics at UC Berkeley when I applied to be a roommate in the apartment he shared with another PhD student. With my barely intelligible English, I was a project! Yet, he not only chose me as roommate but took on to educate me on all things American…a long list! It started with sports, with him taking me to my first baseball and football games. I remember the Oakland A’s and their charismatic manager Billy Martin, not to mention their young ace Rickey Henderson, who kept stealing bases. Then we went to the beautiful stadium on top of the Berkeley Campus to see Cal beat Stanford in “the game.” I really did not understand much about American football — it took watching a lot of the 49ers and reading Michael Lewis’s The Blind Side for me to achieve this — but who would not support a team called the “Golden Bears?” Steve also helped with my English, provided me with introductions to many friends, explained current U.S. trends in university education, politics and the economy, and we shared memorable trips all over Northern California, including backpacking in State Parks (real bears!) and skiing ones. Forty years after, Steve remains a very close friend, and we share many a good laugh talking about our Berkeley adventures.
So how are things going today?
I am comfortably retired from full-time work, getting to spend more time with my wife and six children. I sit on half a dozen boards, for and nor-for-profit, and try to share what I learned in my professional journey with younger entrepreneurs and business executives. I was blessed with generous mentorship throughout my career, and it is a blessing to be able to give some of it back.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
My company has helped countless community hospitals get to a better footing financially. Most people, even here, ignore that 90% of U.S. hospitals are not-for-profit. There are academic (one per major university), faith-based and municipal hospitals. Think of UC San Francisco, Ascension Health and San Francisco General. And, colloquially speaking, what do the profs, nuns and city civil servants have in common? They get taken to the cleaners by health insurance companies, most of them very much for profit, through reimbursements denied for claims, for example. My company helped “level the playing field.” We used to say, “this is not Switzerland, we are not neutral: Our mission is to help hospitals recover at least part of these insurance company denials.” In doing so, we saved several hospitals in distressed communities from having to close their doors. This good fight continues today, since many U.S. hospitals are financially challenged, the Covid pandemic having brought new challenges to them.
On the education front, for the last ten years I have taken a very active role in helping students from my French Alma Matter gain access to prestigious U.S. universities, such as UC Berkeley, Caltech, Stanford, Univ. of Michigan, MIT and Penn for graduate studies. It is natural that I give others what was given to me, and it is fun too. I enjoy going back to campuses, talking to engineering deans about the quality of my Alma Matter, and helping students prepare compelling admission applications — that process has not got easier and simpler over the last forty years, far to the contrary.
You have first-hand experience with the US immigration system. If you had the power, which three things would you suggest to improve the system?
I do not believe that when you are in the tree house, you should pull up the ladder. One of my fundamental credos is that immigration, of all kinds, is good for any country, let alone the U.S. When I help French students get into American universities, it is also in the hope that many of these talented young people will like it here and decide to stay. This leads me to the first of the three things I would suggest to improve the current U.S. immigration system:
- Our universities continue to be the best in the world and a magnet to students worldwide. Our economic supremacy is clearly challenged (by China and the EU); our political system is not envied anymore, and our infrastructure is behind that of most developed countries. Yet, when it comes to higher education, we remain absolutely unchallenged. So why don’t we take more advantage of this and facilitate the immigration of foreign students who decide to stay here? Look at Silicon Valley — anchoring our current technology leadership — and think of all the immigrants that made it what it is today. In practical terms, we should lift the current ceilings on temporary working visas, such as H-1s, by enough to accommodate most of these talented students who want to build their careers here. I would also like two other immigration priorities to become reality:
- Let the Dreamers stay. This sad and cruel saga has lasted long enough. How can we deny permission to stay to those who came here as infants and children, and who have never known another country? We need to grant permanent visas to all the Dreamers — just like we do for the spouses of Americans — and create medium-term paths (5–7 years?) for them to achieve citizenship.
- Beyond the special case of the Dreamers, we should aim as a society to lower significantly the number of undocumented migrants living in the U.S. today. That number has been estimated to be between ten and fourteen million. For all practical purposes, we should make all efforts to assimilate legally such a large population. There should be short-term paths to legal stays, and then long-term paths to citizenships, 10–12 years. This is obviously a tall order, given the raw political feelings this arouses in at least a third of our population. Nevertheless, a solution has to be found: How can we justify as an advanced nation having over 4% of our population in legal limbo? In addition, most of these undocumented migrants contribute a lot to our economy and society, paying taxes through their work and enabling huge areas of our economy — agriculture among others — to work smoothly.
Can you share “5 keys to achieving the American dream” that others can learn from you? Please share a story or example for each.
Everyone has her / his own formula. For me, hard work, perseverance, some ingenuity, the ability to make friends, and respect for both the American culture and my own roots are the “5 keys” that helped me achieve the American dream.
- Hard work is a component of the American dream that is probably shared by pretty much all immigrants to our country. In my case, it was epitomized by one characteristic of many successful business careers: The higher levels of authority and responsibility you reach, the harder you work. When I started as a lowly associate at Booz Allen Hamilton, I had this naive idea that, “I will kill myself to reach partner, and then things will be easier.” Not so. I worked longer hours as a partner than as an associate; longer hours as a senior partner than as a partner; and longer hours still when I became a global managing partner. Obviously, when I started a new company, with ambitious objectives and a team of eight — as opposed to thousands at Accenture — there were even more things to cram in my eighty hours work week. Much has been written about this already, but to the extent that the professional class is the new “dominant” one in America, the key difference between its behavior compared to that of the ruling classes of past centuries (e.g., the Clergy, Military or Nobility) is that it puts longer hours at work than pretty much anybody else. I also learned through my experiences at American universities and seeing my children in U.S. high schools and undergraduate programs that this virtue of “putting the hours” is inoculated at a very young age. In France, we had to pass national exams, such as the “Baccalaureat” to enter university, and then competitive examinations to gain access to the best institutions. I remember working pretty hard, but also watch a few of my more brilliant classmates keep leisurely schedules and then ace the exams. In U.S. schools, to be summa cum laude you can’t just ace the exams: There are papers and projects that take time, team exercises that require long hours, etc.
- Perseverance is also a key requirement for any immigrant to America, because of the very lengthy and somewhat bureaucratic process to reach citizen status. There are dozens of hurdles to overcome. None of them is unsurmountable or even very challenging, but when added on top of each other they create a marathon of sorts — fourteen years in my case from first landing to citizenship, including three mandatory years abroad.
- Some ingenuity: This is why immigration makes countries richer. Most immigrants who arrive in a new country have very little in hand and very much to prove. You instinctively know that to earn your place, you have to do at least some things better than the locals. I shared that hunger to succeed, in great part to show my new friends and colleagues that I did belong here. What did I have that could help me do some things better? I discovered that I was good at convincing people about the value of my ideas, which is a good skill to have in consulting. Even my gallic accent could be turned into an asset: After just one conversation, most people remembered me! We were taught ad nauseam at business school about the imperatives of differentiation for successful businesses. Well, immigrants are differentiated, by definition…
- The ability to make friends is a key asset everywhere, for obvious reasons. Having said that, it is even more important for immigrants, who for the most part land without any network — unless they have relatives already established in their new country. That was not the case for me, and my ability to develop long lasting friendships one by one, starting with my Berkeley roommate Steve, helped me a lot in discovering and understanding America. A corollary aspect of the ability to make friends is having an easy going and friendly manner at first approach. Being guarded in front of any stranger is a very human trait, and immigrants have to address this by showing a positive and reassuring presence to anyone they meet for the first time. This ability is also invaluable in America, principally in business where relationships are often built fairly quickly, unlike in most Asian and European countries where more time is required to build trust.
- Respect for both the American culture and my immigrant roots. I often highlight my own immigrant experience with a “tip,” or cultural advice to my fellow immigrants: “Embrace the great American culture but stay true to your roots. In a country built with diversity, your own immigrant roots will help you create special bonds. “ What do I mean by that? That immigrants need to become fluent as soon as possible with American culture, because otherwise they will always be somewhat “outside.” For example, in sports, like most people from Europe or South America (and now Africa and Asia as well), I was raised following soccer, enthusiastically. But now I also enjoy the quintessential U.S. sports that are American football, baseball and basketball. I follow actively our exciting politics with great interest and dedication. In a country where most business discussions start with casual chats on a number of social topics, it is fundamental to be engaged in typical American social and leisure activities. But this is also a country that embraces diversity with a unique fervor, since this is how it was built. Staying true to one’s roots will bring much welcome attention and differentiation. Here is a personal example to illustrate this important point: At my company, our first hospital system client was one founded by a couple of catholic nun orders. Most of the hospitals we served had boards with a nun as Chair, and many of these nuns enjoyed speaking French. It is always good for business to enjoy good relationships with one’s clients, and I was able to develop a productive rapport with several senior nuns. They also shared interesting stories with me after long debrief meetings, such as: “You know, Etienne, our order (originally St Vincent of Paul) goes all the way back to the War of Independence. When Lafayette set sail to help in the fight against the English, there were nuns of St Vincent of Paul in his ships! This is how catholic healthcare started originally in America…” (…and now employs well over a million people.)
We know that the US needs improvement. But are there 3 things that make you optimistic about the US’s future?
Yes. As mentioned above, we have the best universities in the planet. They provide an ongoing stream of talent to myriad innovative companies. Thanks to our many centers of academic, entrepreneurial, finance and industrial convergence, starting with but not limited to Silicon Valley, we lead the world in innovation and technological advances. The U.S. is opening many paths to the future, which means we have to be optimistic about our country’s own future. We also are more united as a society than the polarization of our political system would suggest. On most of the key issues we face, Covid, the economy, healthcare, inequality, improving our political system, climate change, and immigration, Americans are united around a set of ideas and policies, with polls repeatedly supporting a 60% to over 70% consensus on the direction the country should follow. When this happens, even an imperfect democracy and its body politic will eventually coalesce in that direction — think on how gay marriage evolved in a few years from being legal only in a handful of states to becoming the law of the land. Let’s now look at these three things in more detail:
- Our universities: The facts are clear; our universities continue to be the envy of the world. Foreign students from all over the world flock to them; a disproportionate number of Nobel Prizes have rewarded professors — Americans and immigrants alike — doing research at U.S. universities; their multi-billion $ endowments guarantee that they can continue to attract the best minds and offer them world-class facilities; and connections with business and industry ensure that practical applications are never far away. Just to mention one survey, the well-known Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities was topped in 2020 by Harvard and Stanford, and included 30 U.S. universities among the top 50, as well as 41 among the top 100.
- We lead the world in innovation and technological advances. Artificial intelligence; batteries; cloud-based data; computers; data mining; enterprise software; fintech; medical research; robotics; semiconductors, you name it, U.S. companies, giant ones to start-ups, are defining what state-of-the-art technology is in their field. With its far-reaching government research programs and successful academic, entrepreneurial, finance and industry partnerships, America has given the world nuclear energy, solar panels, microchips, the personal computer, the internet and social media among many other innovations. American technology companies continue to dominate worldwide, and with their immense collective resources are likely to help shape our future in many ways.
- We are more united as a society than the polarization of our political system would suggest. Recent polls have shown that Americans view Covid, the economy, healthcare, inequality, improving our political system, climate change, and immigration as their top priorities to be addressed by new policies. And poll results show strong consensus about these new policies, far more than the frequent political deadlocks we suffer from would indicate. On Covid and the economy, a recent Morning Consult poll found that 77% of Americans supported President Biden’s $1.9 trillion relief plan — even though that plan barely scrapped by in the U.S. Senate, with a 50–49 vote.
When it comes to healthcare, top of mind for all in the Covid age, 63% of Americans favor new policies to achieve universal coverage (through either a “Medicare for All” system or a mix of government and private programs), versus only 30% who want the system to stay as it is today, according to a recent poll by the Pew Research Center.
On inequality, a Hill-Harris poll shows that two-thirds of Americans support a wealth tax on billionaires in an effort to close the wealth gap in our country. Increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour is very popular as well, polling at 60% or better.
We also want to improve our political system, with easier voting and better popular representation: 65% of Americans support early or absentee ballot voting without an excuse (Pew Research Center) and 61% support abolishing the Electoral College (Gallup).
Climate change also shows a strong consensus: According to the Pew Research Center, 68% of Americans want to protect water quality, 67% air quality, and 62% animals and their natural habitat. Two-thirds of U.S. adults say the Federal Government is doing too little to reduce the effects of global climate change, with 63% also saying that stricter environmental regulations are worth the cost.
And when it comes to immigration, the topic of this interview, polls are also clear: A recent Gallup poll showed that only 28% of Americans want immigration to decrease, versus 70% who want it to stay at the present level (36%) or increase (34%).
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I have a lot of respect for politicians who try to make the world a better place. It is hard to reach the higher echelons of government, and even harder to use these positions to improve the lives of most Americans. I would love to have lunch with former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, a fellow immigrant who has reached the highest U.S. office attainable to those not born Americans. I have read her latest book, Fascism: A Warning, which is very prescient. The International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8, and Secretary Albright deserves all the recognition she gets.
What is the best way our readers can further follow your work online?
LinkedIn: etienne-deffarges-012a33ba, and my website:
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!
About The Interviewer: Vicky Colas, Chef Vicky, is an award-winning chef in the Caribbean food arena. In 2012, Chef Vicky was awarded a silver medal for Caribbean Chef of The Year at the Taste of the Islands completion hosted by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association. She was called to represent her country and be a part of the Culinary Team Haiti as a Culinary Chef Ambassador competing with 10 other Caribbean nations. The team was also awarded a silver medal for the Caribbean Team of the Year and received an Award for “Best Team for Taste of the Islands”. A published nutrition researcher, her study was selected in 2013 in the International Journal of Child Nutrition. Her recipe and interview have been featured in Essence Magazine online, Island Origin, and most recently the cookbook Toques in Black: A Celebration of 101 Black Chefs in America. In 2019, she was nominated in the “40 under 40” class of Legacy Magazine as one of South Florida’s “Black Leaders of Today and Tomorrow”.
Most recently, Chef Vicky was selected as one of twenty women candidates awarded for the 2019 James Beard Foundation Women Entrepreneurial Leadership (WEL) fellowship and is also part of a selective group of talented Chefs in the James Beard Foundation local food advocacy training programs. She is a wife, a proud mother of 3 boys, a business, and a food influencer in her community. Chef Vicky has been featured in her local news stations such as WSVN CH 7, Deco Drive, WPLG Local 10 News, 6 on the mix CH 6 and Good Morning Miramar.
Vicky is also a subject matter expert in the Hospitality, Culinary Arts, Restaurant Management, and Public Health (Dietetics and Nutrition) arena. She is a graduate of Florida International University (FIU) and Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts.
Chef | Nutritionist | Entrepreneur | Consultant
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