Laetitia Ouadah was born and raised in Strasbourg, France, on the border with Germany. She grew up trilingual — French, German and English — and studied at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, earning a master’s in human resource management before moving to the United States in 2016.
“I never really left Strasbourg, actually, until I came to the United States,” said Ouadah, 32. “I always lived near and around my hometown.”
Before moving to Colorado Springs, her first stateside home was in Charleston, South Carolina.
“When I decided to leave France, I had no plans and didn’t have much money,” Ouadah said. “I found a French guy online who owned a bakery in Charleston … and he was looking for someone to run the business. I contacted him, saying, ‘You don’t know me. I’m here in France but I have a green card now and I can work in the U.S. Maybe we can help each other out?’ That was my first job in the U.S. — running a bakery.”
Now in Colorado Springs, she works remotely as a sales development representative for HiringSolved Inc. And just this month, she was onboarded as the Colorado Springs representative and guide for the new women’s collective, TogetHer Adventures, carrying the job title of ‘ExplorHer’ (the Denver TogetHer guides have the similar on-brand title, ‘TrailblazHer’).
Ouadah talked with the Business Journal about her work and what brought her to Colorado Springs.
After university, did you work in France or did you move right away?
I moved right away. In France, when you go to college you have two options: you can go to university, which is traditional classes, or you can work and study at the same time — your work is a full-time job and related to your degree. While I was studying and getting my master’s, I was working in human resources for five years. I graduated when I was 23.
At the bakery, in Charleston, did you bake?
No, I wasn’t doing any baking work, except assisting when staff really needed the help. I was just really managing, making sure that the staff had everything that they needed. The bakery was called Baguette Magic. I did that for about six months, maybe a little more. For my next job, my boss actually found me. He came into the bakery as a customer and we talked randomly. … [He] spoke a little French — that’s how we connected, and he offered me a job. I accepted and moved on from the bakery.
What was the job?
I was a trade analyst. We were selling imports and exports data, basically. This guy had built his company 10 years prior and decided to sell it and retire. After a couple years, he was bored. So he basically did it all over again and built his own competition; he started a new company doing the same thing. I joined when the company was literally nothing: It was him, another sales person, and me. Later, we hired more people. It was a real startup experience. It was very exciting because it was my first time joining a new venture. We worked with big companies, governments and embassies, and the goal was to sell the information and then train the clients — really explain the numbers and how to use the numbers.
I didn’t know anything about this field; I literally had no experience. He taught me everything and trained me. I was with them for a couple years and it was a great experience. In Charleston, we had an office, but I moved to Colorado in November 2017. He let me work remote for about a year, but he came from a different generation and wasn’t used to remote work. He was more traditional: come into the office, 9-to-5. After a year, he kindly called me and said, ‘This is not working. It just doesn’t work for me or sit right with me.’ He was very nice and fair. We split ways amicably. That company was Trade Data Monitor.
Did you have anything lined up?
I had nothing lined up, but he was kind enough to pay me four months of salary. Again, it was a really easy way to leave a job. I didn’t really take a break, though; I was looking for something right away. For me, working remotely doesn’t really feel like working — I don’t really feel like I need a break, per se.
Talk about your current job.
I do sales and marketing for [HiringSolved in Arizona, near Phoenix] that began operating in 2016. We sell a software for recruitment — so, time acquisition and human resources, in general. I’m the bridge between sales and marketing. I make sure that both teams communicate — whatever sales and marketing needs between each other — I make that happen. I’ve been working there for nearly two years now. I really like it. It’s not too demanding and gives me a lot of flexibility, which I realize is the most important thing for me in my life right now: to be able to have a flexible job and do my own thing while still being serious about the work. I need flexibility. I don’t do well with micromanaging.
Are you at home all the time?
I am very comfortable working from home, but sometimes it gets lonely. Every now and then I go to coffee shops to see some faces. I go to The Exchange and Building Three Coffee, frequently. I’ve been going to Kinship Landing lately, which is one of the newer ones. Those are some of my favorites.
What’s the most difficult part of your job?
So, sometimes easy is hard. With being remote and very flexible, it can be hard to focus. Sometimes all I want to do is hike or go somewhere in the mountains or out on a lake. So being serious, organized and sticking to the schedule is hard. Self-discipline and self-motivation is the hardest part of my job, at times.
What do you enjoy most about your job — the flexibility?
The flexibility, yes. The culture of the company as well. It’s a fairly new company and they really believe in what they do, which that’s awesome. They care about people; they really do. They care about the customers — they’re authentic and transparent. I really resonate with the company’s culture.
What brought you to Colorado Springs?
At the time, I was dating someone in Charleston and he got a job promotion here — so we moved here together. That relationship didn’t work out; we actually broke up quickly after moving. But I’m glad he brought me here. I’m still here, so I think it was meant to be.
Do you like it better than South Carolina?
I do, yes. I think people here are more real. I love South Carolina and I love the artsy part of Charleston; it’s a beautiful town. But I feel like people are more genuine here — it’s a culture that’s more laidback and authentic. Also, you can just go hiking out your backdoor — the outdoors here is absolutely incredible. I live near the Cheyenne Mountain area, so I have all these trailheads very close to home. … Everything is just minutes away.
I love the community here in Colorado Springs, and I admire people who make changes. I can think of a few people right away that bring so much to our town with so much love. I moved here four years ago and it has changed here so much. It’s growing so fast and so many great things are coming — every year there’s something new.
Do you have any projects on the side?
A few years ago, I started an eco-friendly brand called The Green Watch. I only had a few products — plastic-free, biodegradable — I was trying to start small. To be completely honest, I didn’t spend as much time on it as I should have. It’s still a thing, it’s not just running very well at the moment. It requires a lot of time, energy and focus, and I’m just not in a space where I can give that. I will pick it up again at some point but it’s on the backburner.
What I’m doing now as my side hustle is called TogetHer Adventures. I’m working with a friend in Denver. It’s basically a women’s platform and a women’s community. We’re trying to create a safe space for women to come as they are, whatever you’re going through, whatever stage of life you’re in, just come hang out and have a good time. We’re bringing offerings to both Colorado Springs and Denver around five pillars: adventure, growth, awakening, social, and community service. We just launched in early May, so it’s very new but off to great start. Our second event is already full. I’m really excited about this project.
Where would you like to be in five years?
I honestly do not know, and I don’t want to know. The way I view life is I just go with opportunities, and I take them as they come. I’ve always lived my life by this, and this is why I’m here today in the U.S. … happy as ever and healthy as ever. I feel like this is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do. So, I have no clue where I will be in five years, I just trust that I will have good experiences. I just trust my gut. I go with that. I haven’t been back to France in almost two years. I miss my friends and family in France, but I don’t really miss my life there. I really don’t. I get a lot of ‘Why did you leave France? France is awesome!’ Yeah, but I grew up there. I guess you always take it for granted, where you grow up. I just feel so much happier here.
What’s so much better now?
I feel like I belong, and I feel much more free. If I want to try to do something new, I can. It’s hard to explain. I was kind of bored in France — I didn’t really know what I wanted to do or where I was going. I have more opportunities here.