Vinciane has more than 10 years of experience advising companies and trade associations in the area of food and consumer goods, in Brussels-based public affairs consultancies. Vinciane successfully led numerous advocacy campaigns on behalf of clients, demonstrating her expertise in co-decision and comitology lobbying, awareness-raising campaigns, crisis communications and association management. Her area of expertise mainly is food, ranging from agricultural production to marketing and consumption. Public health and environment are also areas where she has developed an in-depth knowledge.

Vinciane graduated in European Affairs at the Institute of Political Sciences of Lille in France.

Vinciane Patelou
Director of ENSA, the European Plant-based Foods Association

Why do you invest your time & efforts in association work?

I started working for ENSA in 2008, in my very first consultancy job and immediately connected on a personal level with the mission of the association to raise awareness about the benefits of plant-based foods.

What feels great in a trade association like ENSA is when companies which are competitors on the market put their individual interests asides to achieve something greater for all. And in the case of ENSA, not only making a difference for the plant-based sector, but also for the health of people and the planet.

What are the top three success factors of impactful association work?

Not loosing sight of what you are trying to achieve. The day to day management of an association can be extremely time-consuming, you may get the feeling that you are running behind the various members’ or stakeholders’ requests.

Having a clear strategic plan. Always questioning whether this specific action actually serves one of the strategic objectives helps keeping the focus, reprioritising actions and delivering results at the end of the day.

What should we #ChooseToChallenge when it comes to association work?

Choose to challenge your perspective: in trade associations, there is a very reassuring effect of talking to like-minded companies, but you can only make an impact on the outside world if you put yourself in the shoes of the people on the other side.

How is the association sector dealing with diversity and inclusion? Has it changed?

I have to say that in the food sector, we have a pretty good gender balance overall and in food trade associations as well. I think that this may be the reason why there is even less tolerance today for benevolent sexism, if I compare this to when I started my career. My advice: have faith in your expertise!