Manon Loustau, CEO, Libu

Manon Loustau is 29 years-old. She is currently CEO of Libu, the company she started right after her engineering studies. After graduating from Supoptique, a French engineering school specialized in light, she founded Libu by making the bridge between her scientific background and the lighting market needs. A few years later, she went to INSEAD to have a business training too. Libu is now a 5 years-old company, has 10 employees in France, and has just raised 1M€.

Recently, in an exclusive interview with Digital First Magazine, Manon shared her professional trajectory, what sets Libu apart from other market competitors, insights on the future of mental health and wellness at the workplace, significant career milestone, future plans, pearls of wisdom, and much more. The following excerpts are taken from the interview.

Hi Manon. Please tell us about your background and areas of expertise.

I am Manon Loustau, founder of the company Libu. Libu is a five-year-old startup that I established right after completing my engineering studies. With a scientific background, my associate and I developed a lighting technology that enhances health and wellbeing through light. I also hold a diploma in Business from INSEAD.

What was the inspiration behind establishing Libu? What sets it apart from other market competitors?

With our scientific background, we knew that light has a significant impact on health and wellbeing. However, after conducting 300 interviews, we realized that in the corporate world, light is primarily used as a tool, and its impact on health is mostly negative. We decided to use our scientific skills to develop a lighting system that meets the needs of the market – improving health and wellbeing, through light.

In your opinion, how can leaders improve employee mental health and wellbeing? 

We spend eight hours a day at work, so work is a significant part of our lives. While work-life balance is often considered the top priority, I believe that what happens in the workplace is just as important. The workplace environment, management, and effective communication tools for telework are priorities that leaders should address.

What are some of the lessons that you have learned in these early stages of addressing wellness with more depth?

As our company focuses on health and wellbeing at work, we are convinced that wellness in the workplace is highly impactful. However, we have realized that, even though this topic is becoming increasingly important, wellness still means very basic things for many companies.

I am convinced that wellness needs to be addressed comprehensively: we work extensively on workplace environments, but that is not enough if management, career development, and work-life balance are not also taken into account.

On the positive side, I have observed that small changes can bring significant positive effects. For example, we have conducted studies on the impact of our lighting solutions. People using our solution experience a 25% reduction in perceived stress. This is due not only to the health benefits of our lighting but also because it often signifies a company’s commitment to wellness, leading to additional actions on related topics.

What do you see happening in regard to mental health and wellness in the workplace in the next 5 years?

For years, work has been seen primarily as a way to earn money, but this is slowly changing. Most new recruits are now looking for interesting jobs that make a positive impact on the world. I believe companies will no longer be able to conduct business as usual and will need to make significant changes to adapt to this new mindset. And that’s for the best!

What are your thoughts on gender equality and inclusion? Do you think there is a gender bias in our industry?

As a female leader in the industry and manufacturing sector, I think that a lot of things have evolved. I never feel that there is a gender bias. However, recruiting female employees is more challenging simply because there are fewer of them. I believe education has a significant impact on career choices. I am part of an association that introduces entrepreneurship to young students as a potential career path.

If you could have a one-hour meeting with someone famous who is alive, who would it be and why?

I think I would like to talk with Elon Musk. He is quite a controversial person, but one of the few true visionaries. I believe the world would benefit from more people with a strong vision and a willingness to change industries.

What is one accomplishment you’re proud of?

I am really proud of the stages my company is going through: we started from scratch and now employ 10 employees, have raised 1M€ and are on a good run.

What drives you? How do you measure personal success?

I am really convinced that Libu is doing good. Our values, the way we design our products, and the impact it has on the users is really meaningful to me.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?

I hope we will increase our global impact, but also have a more important role in our local economy as an industry leader.

What advice would you give to aspiring professionals from your industry?

I may say that it is fine to take a new path, instead of following the standards of your industry. Innovation is what will drive the future!

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