Sylvie Lemoine currently holds the position of Deputy Director General at Cefic, following a career journey that has taken her from being a chemical engineer with a PhD and little confidence to taking on a pivotal role within a leading trade association. Her path has been marked by continuous learning, growth, overcoming doubts, and seizing new opportunities, all fuelled by the inspiration and trust from people she met along the way. Sylvie balances her professional achievements with a fulfilling personal life full of family time, diving (where she serves as an instructor and president of her diving club), sports, travel, and social outings.

Sylvie Lemoine
Deputy Director General, Cefic

Sylvie’s Story: Discovering My Passion for Associations

What inspired me was the international and multi-cultural dimension of the association work and the way I could live my European values. Working for an association gave me the opportunity to work for an entire sector, being their voice, their advocate, and trying to change the negative image of the chemical industry – because I firmly believe that chemistry is wonderful.

I love the broad range of interactions: with members, colleagues, policymakers, NGOs, and many more, which both challenge and inspire me. If you are driven by a broad sense of trying to help society progress, if you are not afraid of complexity, if you are open to various points of view I can only encourage you to give working for associations a chance!

Sylvie’s Approach: How to #InspireInclusion through Our Work and Actions

I am pushing for a D&I programme that includes studying a depth where we can improve, developing a D&I policy, and applying reverse mentoring. Jim Fitterling, the CEO of a Dow – company I worked for – inspired me a lot. I believe in authenticity in leadership and I think he has it (his public coming out as gay after having survived cancer has been very emotional and inspiring to me). The stories I have learned from people around me give me the will to bring my support to try to make things change. But I am clear I don’t want a job or an opportunity just because I am a woman!

Sylvie’s Perspective: On the Importance of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Associations

Respect for people is one of my top values. If you respect people, regardless of their origin or personal choices, DEI is obvious. The problem is rather the structure of organizations, sometimes the lack of flexibility, and the fears from men who are higher in the hierarchy of losing jobs or opportunities. Beyond DEI, I think psychological safety (speaking up freely) is vital in an organization.

Sylvie’s Initiatives: Actions and Inspirations for Fellow Association Leaders

Honestly, I still see a lot of work ahead. We need to oOvercome the belief that « we don’t have a problem ». DEI is not just about addressing an existing problem; it is about making sure there won’t be any in the future.