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GOD turned Dores' dismissal into an opportunity

ô zong-tî blessing ! Nǐ hǎo (你好) testimony of goodness! May the LORD lift up your head and bless your house. May his blessing extend to your children's children. Let it be said of your house, "Here are queens born. Here Sephora has sisters, Deborah has daughters, Junias has sons and Apphia has friends." Surely the beloved Dores is one of them. She is brilliant, discreet and committed to the Gospel. On a daily basis, she takes on challenges and contributes to the expansion of the Kingdom.

" For I know the plans and thoughts that I have for you,’ says the Lord, ‘plans for peace and well-being and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." ___ ( Jeremiah 29:11,AMP)

** Good morning Dores, could you introduce yourself?

Shalom, Simone-Christelle. My first name is Dores. I am a daughter of GOD, wife and mother of a 6 year old girl called Chloe. I was born and raised in Cameroon. I currently live in Nice, in the South of France. On a daily basis, I am a civil engineer and project manager in the building sector (construction and renovation). My local church is Imagin, I am a member of Messages de Vie France, and currently responsible for Europe of the NGO Père des orphelins (Father of Orphans) based in Ivory Coast.

** Civil engineering has the reputation of being a very male environment (laughs). Is this true?

(Laughter) I'm used to being asked this question. I started my studies in civil engineering in Cameroon, at the Yaoundé Polytechnic School. I was the only woman in my class. I arrived in France in 2005, preparing a double master's degree in civil engineering. It was far from parity, but there were enough of us not to have the impression of being in a male environment. During the MBA Management course, there were as many women as men. However, my colleagues are practically all men.

** How did you meet the LORD?

I was born into a Christian family. I was always aware that GOD exists, but I didn't have a real relationship with Him. Rain or shine, on Sunday mornings we went to church. My mother gave us pocket money or recreation money as we say in Cameroon after the service. Whoever missed the service or arrived late got nothing. She taught at our school. Before leaving the house, she gave each one a sum to put in the tithes and offerings basket. From her seat as a choir member or elder (the equivalent of a deacon or leader in other denominations) she would check to see if we had come forward to deposit the tithes and offerings. If we were sitting at the back of the room it meant we were late, so no pocket money. I went to worship every Sunday, avoided sinning, gave tithes and offerings.

** I can't help but smile as I listen to you. I'll let you continue.

In prep school, a classmate once told me that going to church did not make me a Christian because I did not have a real relationship with GOD. He was my partner. He often invited me to youth gatherings organised by Campus and GBEEC (Groupe Biblique des Elèves et Etudiants du Cameroun), a daughter association of IFES (International Fellowship of Evangelical Students). As I followed the teachings, I realised that he was right. One day, I answered the call to salvation. I joined the youth group at my school. Those were my best years. Being in fraternal communion with students and graduates of your school is extraordinary. We did almost everything together: meditating, studying, revising (before exams) and evangelising. We were surrounded by former graduates who regularly exhorted and advised us. You could tell that they lived what they preached. They were not preachers, but their advice carried weight. They were real mentors.

** Glory to GOD! One of my uncles works for IFES and GBEEC. I will pass on this testimony to him. If we talk a little about your career, how did you become a project manager?

I was recruited by the company where I was doing my end-of-study internship. I always wanted to be a project manager. On the advice of my supervisor, I started as a junior works engineer. My first project was a laboratory building. That site lasted four years. Four years during which I learned to constantly adapt. There are things you can't anticipate. The technical solutions presented in the design phase will always be adjusted, re-evaluated and sometimes modified in the implementation phase.

Then, while waiting for a new site, I worked on design office missions: planning, costing, price study. Then I switched to a restoration and elevation project for a historic building. I was the work's supervisor. At the same time, I was preparing my MBA in evening classes, financed by my employer over two years. In addition to technical skills, I had to understand the roles, concerns and constraints of the various people involved in a project. And in general, to understand how a company works. I had courses in finance, business strategy and many other subjects. Indirectly, I took advantage of this to develop my project. After my MBA, I was promoted to project manager, working on design and implementation projects.

My husband lost his job in the Paris region and moved to the south where he found a job. We decided to give ourselves a year before I joined him. Either he found a job in the Paris region, or after his trial period, I asked for a transfer to join him. In the meantime, I went to the South as often as possible: weekends, holidays, etc. I was working in a large group, and I was very happy with my work. I was working in a large group, known both in France and internationally. I liked my job, but in the South there was no job available for my profile. A new position was being discussed but it did not meet my expectations. I had to look elsewhere.

By GOD mercy, I was recruited in another group, as well known as the first one. However, the corporate culture was totally different. Really totally different. I left a group organized in autonomous sub-groups, where decisions are taken collaboratively, for a group with highly formalized procedures and organized in centers of expertise. The two models are equally effective, but the transition may be rough. I struggled at first, but the LORD helped me. For three years, I worked in Nice and Marseille. I joined the team of a wonderful project manager. He was a mentor and a coach. I learned a lot from him. I worked on different phases and projects that were completely different from what I had known before.

** Including my internships, to date I have worked in more than seven companies (Cameroon & France). Indeed, transitions (company culture and leadership style) can be tough. Today you are self-employed. How did it go?

Summer 2019, while everything seems to be going well, I am summoned to the regional management. I fly out the following week expecting to receive a promotion. To my great surprise, my employer announces his intention to dismiss me for "Serious misconduct". I had two weeks to prepare for the preliminary interview (legal procedure in France). Quite frankly, at that time, I did not see this as an opportunity. I kept calm in front of my interviewers, but inside I was distraught. From the airport, I called my manager to ask if there was anything I could be held responsible for. I thought maybe I had made a mistake and no one had dared to say it to my face. To my surprise he didn't know that a dismissal procedure was underway. He was angry when he heard the news. How could anyone consider dismissing a member of his team without his agreement, without warning him and especially in the middle of a project.

Surprisingly, the week before a pastor told me that I would be fired. He told me to lean on the LORD and keep calm. I fasted and prayed all week; not to hear GOD but to reverse this prophecy. But as soon as I walked through the lobby of the regional office, I knew I was in for some bad news. Back home I kept asking GOD. "Why do you allow this to happen to me? Why now? What will I become? How will I take care of my daughter? What should I do now?" In the midst of my questioning, the idea of a self-business came to my mind. It was GOD's answer. I had plans for entrepreneurship but it was for longer-term projects in Cameroon. Setting up my own business had never been an option until then.

I started to think about what types of missions could offer. I sometimes worked with design offices. I knew the missions they were offering, and which were the ones that large companies were outsourcing. By taking stock of my skills, I realized that I too could offer them. I could decline in mission the positions that I had occupied: project manager, planning, estimation, preliminary studies, execution, etc. I said to the LORD, "Ok DADDY for the self-business but, how would I get clients? I'm not a saleswoman. I don't know how to convince." His response was immediate, "I'll handle the sales." At that moment I had peace in my heart, the inner testimony confirming that I had nothing to worry about.

In my defense, I had a solid record, clearly demonstrating that I had not committed any professional misconduct. My file was so good that I could have lodged a complaint against my employer. The staff representatives kept telling me that I could get ten times more than my redundancy pay. Because in the facts, there was nothing to reproach me. On the contrary, my work was always appreciated. After investigation the real reason was economic. The subsidiary to which I was seconded had just lost some major contracts. Some people felt that they had to lay off as quickly as possible to save money. Dismissal for economic reasons is highly regulated in France. To be able to resort to it, the employer must respect a procedure and a certain number of conditions. This was not the case with my employer... I was just the first one on the list, the one they thought 'this will be easy and quick'. I was the youngest project manager on secondment and, above all, the last one to join the branch.

Que j'aime ce témoignage! HalleluYah!

I could have left without giving my notice. But out of professional conscience and in recognition of my manager (the one who trained me), I stayed on until the last day. In any case, the position I held could not be replaced any time soon and the team was already understaffed. I would have put the team in trouble if I had left the same day. You don't become a project manager in one day and you don't take over a project overnight.

During this period my employer wanted to reverse his decision and made me a job offer. But I refused. My time with the company was over and GOD had other plans for me. I took a leap of faith and told the LORD, that I was not afraid to miss out. I paid school fees for six children in a public school in Cameroon. I started my own business as soon as I left. I did not have to prospect for clients. No sooner had I left my employer than I already had clients and job offers. My manager recommended me to his address book. If GOD had not asked me to start my own business I would have joined another group. Today I manage my time more freely, I earn much more than before, and despite my busy schedule I am a worker at Messages de Vie France.

**Wow, thank you LORD for this testimony. Your advice to those who want to start projects or who have just lost their job?

  • Let GOD lead you and discern what season you are in. Something may be an oasis in one season of your life and be a house of Potiphar the next. When the end of something comes, move on.

  • Train yourself and look after your professional relationships. People may like you, but if you are not competent they will not give you interesting assignments. I didn't become a project manager because my managers liked me. But I gained time because I had good relationships with good managers. I have visibility until 2024. I am still training. Not long ago I took a course in risk management.

  • Don't neglect your relationship (marriage) for the sake of your professional career, but also don't use it as an excuse not to serve the LORD. Seek balance.

** A few words about Message de Vie and Père des Orphelins ?

Messages de Vie (Messages of Life) is an inter-church ministry working to spread the gospel throughout the nations. Père des Orphelins (Father of Orphans) is the branch of the ministry that supports widows and cares for orphans.

** What is the last book you read ?

12 Gates of Influence to Transform a Nation, by Pastor Mohammed Sanogo.

Thank you Dores. Thank you for your availability and your commitment. There are many lessons to be learned from your testimony. We remember that before being "entrepreneurs", we will sometimes have to learn from "intrapreneurs": the "others" of Luke 16:12. Then we must learn to say "No" to the proposals of men in order to seize the blessings of GOD. No experience is in vain and as the Apostle Paul "we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28). May the LORD equip you further, may He grant you to train many and complete His work in you.

** ô zong-tî = Good morning in Dschang (Cameroon)

** Nǐ hǎo (你好) = Good morning in Chinese


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