[Portrait] Who is Lionel Paillet, the new Monsieur Nest in Europe?
After twelve years at Apple, notably alongside Pascal Cagni, the 40-year-old has embarked on the booming world of connected objects to orchestrate the marketing of Nest, the third largest takeover of Google for 3.2 billion euros last January. Portrait of the General Manager Europe of Nest Labs, the discreet Lionel Paillet.
His recent story is that of a man who takes the plunge: in February, he left the multinational Apple, for a start-up of a few dozen people still unknown to the general European public. “It was difficult to leave Apple… But in fact, I didn’t leave Apple, I joined Nest. It’s the way I live it ”.
You never really leave Apple completely
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Lionel Paillet joined the firm at the apple in 2000, when the European headquarters were still in France, in Les Ulis. He is then part of European management. Under the responsibility of Pascal Cagni then John Brandon, he first took charge of the business development for the media and the press, then takes care of the broadcast and animation programs for points of sale in Europe and India.
I really enjoyed working in India
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What has his time at Apple changed in him? “I’m probably even more picky about details than I was before” confides this amateur tennis player, born in Paris in 1967.
At Apple, there are people who have marked me: Pascal Cagni, John Brendon …
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“He is a very human person, very approachable, a leader who listens, who is interested in the culture of others. He is one of those people who are gifted at forging constructive relationships with people thousands of kilometers away, ”explains Pascal Cagni. He remembers: “Lionel is a sponge capable of absorbing advice from people he respects, he loves. For example, he always dreaded reviews (oral presentations, editor’s note) we did and I remember challenging him on that when we went to Romania, Bulgaria. I loved his ability to listen in order to learn ”.
Sonos, its first connected object
Now in charge of the management of Nest Labs in Europe, Lionel Paillet admits that he was not initially attracted by the product, but more by the project leaders. “These are the people I met that made me want to go to Nest,” he explains. The founders of the start-up, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, are two Apple alumni, alongside Steve Jobs. Here is Lionel Paillet propelled into the world of connected home automation. “He took a real gamble by going to Nest. I think he still has some under his feet, I had moreover pushed him out of the Apple cocoon (…). He was going to waste his time if he had not taken on a new challenge head-on, ”estimates Pascal Cagni, who moreover recommended him to the board from Nest Labs.
In mid-September, in front of a partner of journalists on the occasion of the launch in France of the brand’s thermostats and smoke detectors, the boss of Nest Europe launches: “Welcome to the Nest house. With us, we don’t believe in the idea of a connected home, but rather that of a conscious home. Objects must do more for you ”. And in his house, what place do connected objects occupy? “The first one I bought was Sonos [enceintes hi-fi], but I also have Philipps connected cameras, LIFX bulbs, my first concern was not to have a cable anywhere ”.
“A very open group management and transparency”
At Nest, he continues to be responsible for providing leadership to the growing European team. If he had to use one word to describe his management methods it would be: “transparent”.
“I have rather a group management, and transparency, very open, you have to know how to work together and be more or less at the same pace” describes the person who looks for very specific qualities when recruiting: “The choice of employees it is still a very important exercise. We can always be wrong but there are really important things, at least for me, which are: the agility of the person, his capacity to be flexible enough in relation to an environment that can move (…) There is a matter of unlearning in order to learn (…) and the idea is to recruit people better than you, experts in their fields. It’s really critical ”.
In London, where he has been living with his wife and children for nine years, Lionel Paillet has developed a taste for “English” work. “With them, business relations are more direct, faster, the English vocabulary in business is a little more economical than in French (…) the notion of entrepreneurship is different. Positivism is more marked ”.
The Celsa then … America
Before the United Kingdom, there was the United States. This e-mail addict worked in a Californian start-up between 1995 and 2000. Before this first expatriation, he worked in industry, at Schlumberger after a brief stint in an advertising agency at Leo Burnett at the end of his course. of training which will have led him from the IUT advertising of the University René Descartes (Paris V) to Celsa, via the Sorbonne. From his years at the School of Advanced Studies in Information and Communication Sciences, he kept strong friendships. “I have some very, very good buddies who were there. People with whom I still have a relationship today. (…) Some work in banking, in other fields, few work in the tech environment, ”he recalls.
Lionel Paillet does not smoke and appreciates French and Italian cuisine very much. To approach it? Find a good restaurant and start a conversation about wine, for example. There are chances to meet him at the Rech fish restaurant during his visits to Paris. A lover of wines from the Rhône valley, he developed a taste for nectar when he was little: “I bottled wine with my grandfather when I was 4-5 years old,” he recalls with delight. Pascal Cagni confirms: “He’s a choicer who likes good food, he often found me good wines, it is part of his secret garden”.
Le Chateaubriand is an amazing restaurant
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1967 Born in Paris
1995 Departure for California
2000 Entry to Apple
2005 Settling in London with the family
2014 Nest Labs
Photos: © Guillaume Le Moal for Frenchweb, all rights reserved