Meet Susan Soba – IRT’s new Executive Director


(Posted 12th September 2019)

Graduated from a business school, Susan worked in the air transport sector and carried out training, restructuring and relocation projects in various other economic sectors. She will now have to pilot IRT by accompanying the roadmap and the regional plan as directed by the Regional Council.

A native of Saint-André, Susan Soba was 15 years old when she left Reunion to go to metropolitan France. The young Reunion girl finished her high school in Bordeaux. With her baccalaureate in hand, she completed two years of preparatory classes for the Grandes Ecoles competition. She graduated from a business school in Lille where she studied business management with a specialization in human resources and project management.

She started her career in 2009 at the National Federation of Merchant Aviation (FNAM) , whose Social Affairs Department carried a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project aimed at respecting the principles of sustainable development. Attached to the issues of responsibility and ethics, Susan Soba built an observatory of the social practices of the airlines . She discovered, in her own words “an exciting sector“.

At 26, the desire to be on the ground is felt.
I wanted to go back to business quite quickly and I wanted to be more involved in the action, in the concrete.” After several experiences, particularly in transition management , she finally devoted herself to support in the provision of services to professionals of the craft profession. In particular, she launched a communication campaign targeting 300,000 artisans and was involved in the development of social dialogue in the craft industry.

In 2013, she moved closer to the OPCALIA network and devoted herself to the development of a tutorial product aimed at fighting against illiteracy. In 2014, Susan Soba returned to the air sector and held the position of Project Manager at the Aerospace Trades Training Association (AFMAé) in Massy, Île-de-France, which supports the structure in its project of transformation and relocation in order to integrate the aeronautical center of excellence to be built at Le Bourget.

With these different experiences and a solid technical background, Susan Soba returns to a sector that is dear to her, that of crafts. This time, she joined the Chamber of Trades of Alsace as Director of Training. She managed two apprentice training centers with the largest team in the consular chamber, which has 130 employees. In particular, she lead a major change project with the application of the law NOTRe – New Territorial Organization of the Republic (2015).

She explained: “Bernard Stalter, president of the Chambers of Trades of France today, trusted me for this mission whose idea was to regionalize the services, to create a unique training direction with all integrated services. […] it was a big managerial challenge“.

After Alsace, Susan Soba took the regional direction of the formation of Chambers of Crafts and Crafts of New Aquitaine with a more strategic and political dimension. She had to coordinate the craft policy in terms of vocational training especially incorporating the new laws applicable to consular establishments and training centers. She then worked on the preparation of the merger of establishments in relation with the territories, with a network of more than 10,000 apprentices and 130,000 craft companies. Shortly after, she is contacted for a new challenge :”I started the year 2019 without knowing that I will be in Reunion today. I came from a public, parapublic system that the IRT looks a bit like. I think this is one of the reasons for when I saw the destination, I agreed to do the interview. ”

Since August is Susan Soba the new executive director of the IRT. For her, “the challenge is to increase tourism spending, which is good for the Reunion economy, the IRT must participate and be at the service of the local tourism industry.

The values she wants to put forward are the collective, the living-together and the harmony : “To have in the same environment the mosque next to the church or the temple seems incredible.” She also wants to emphasize respect for nature and people .”You have to find a good position for the destination, define a direction with the services and the Board of Directors, all the actors must take part.” From a more personal point of view, the Director General of the IRT said: “Ignite emotions! If we look for emotion, Reunion and experiential tourism are well suited.”

For the time being, Susan Soba, who took up her new role a little over a month ago, wants to focus on her teams, but she also wants to “accompany the overall strategy.” There is a roadmap and a regional plan carried by the Regional Council her role is to know how it is exploited, how it is made operational.

She added: “We must give meaning to IRT’s service offer with all stakeholders.” The IRT is there to support professionals in terms of service offerings, advice, modernization, understanding their problems.” For the Director General of the IRT, “what we need to define is how we move forward together, how to do our best to federate internally but also with professionals, the Region, the public, the Reunionese, artisans, the local economy Everything is connected, everything is systemic If there are all these stakeholders in the Board of Directors and the General Assembly, it is not for nothing. In this associative model, you have to agree, you need a permanent consensus in order to move forward, it takes longer, but the collective has to prevail, you have to put the interest of the collective ahead of everyone’s interests. interests me and what is most like in Reunion‘.