Interview with Dr Vanessa Marcié

Queens’ alumnae Dr Vanessa Marcié, Sally Boyle and Annamaria Koerling have been invited to speak at the Judge Business School’s Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference 2019 this coming Saturday 8th June.

Dr Vanessa Marcie
Dr Vanessa Marcié is a Queens' alumna and a graduate from the Judge Business School's 2016 EMBA. In February, she founded her own company, Leading with Humour, which aims to improve people's performance, workplace culture, relationships and communication through enhanced understanding and use of humour. She spoke to us in advance of leading a workshop at the Wo+Men’s Leadership Conference on Saturday 8th June.

What will your workshop at the Leadership Conference be?

My workshop will be on how to claim your power in the workplace, using humour. There will be a bit of theory, based on a research I have conducted with Sucheta Nadkarni, Director of the Wo+Men's Leadership Centre, a discussion to allow people to share their experience of humour in the workplace and an interactive game, based on stand-up comedy, to get participants out of their comfort zone and use their creative brain to create funny content and gain confidence in themselves.

What is the relationship between gender and humour?

There is a gender element in humour. Sucheta Nadkarni & I published an article based on the research we published last year on understanding the link between humour and leadership, and how female leaders can better use humour strategically to become successful leaders. After the workshop, I hope that participants will gain confidence and realise that there is a way to change positively their company culture, claim your power and inspire with humour.

How did you first get interested in stand-up comedy?

I started stand-up comedy in order to cure my fear of public speaking, and I got hooked! I realised that making people laugh has a real power. For many years I wondered how I could combine my business acumen, knowledge and academic background with my experience of comedy to create something helpful in the workplace.

My first experience of stand-up comedy was the most terrifying moment of my life. But, more than just curing my fear of public speaking, stand-up comedy taught me humility, to embrace failure, to see the silver lining in everything and, perhaps most importantly, the transforming power of humour. It completely changed my mindset and my view on life and that is what I want to share through these workshops.

What are your long-term goals for Leading with Humour?

Humour is a very powerful and inclusive tool, but, if it is not used appropriately, it can also damage relationships. People often don’t think of humour as a tool that can help them. My goal is to give leaders the keys to use humour strategically and change the culture of their company and their relationships with others through humour. I'm now leading workshops in the UK, the US & France and I teach the subject at a few universities, including HEC & Cambridge. The feedback from students and leaders is very encouraging; hopefully before the end of this year, I will launch an online course and I would like to publish a book on the subject next year. I want to reach as many people as possible; I have a mission to create 1 million smiles in the workplace and to build gender equity with humour.

Are you looking forward to returning to Cambridge for the conference?

It is always a treat to come back to Cambridge. It’s like Hogwarts! I feel like I’m Harry Potter every time I come back. I think everybody who has studied in Cambridge is happy to come back: it feels like home. Cambridge is a place where you can push your boundaries and always learn new things. I come to share my knowledge, contribute to the Cambridge community and to society in general and that is very rewarding.