Lydia Fenet, Christie’s Auction House SVP, International Director of Strategic Partnerships on motherhood and art of selling
It was great seeing you at our photoshoot in November! Congratulations again on becoming a mom for the third time! How is your pregnancy going so far?
Do you feel any different from your two other pregnancies? Thank you! This has been a long pregnancy but it is almost over. Unlike my first two pregnancies where the morning sickness was gone by four months, I was still suffering with “all day sickness” until month seven. I am just ready to meet our new baby!
We support working moms and believe that there is a woman inside every mom. You’re not just a mom but also the senior vice president and international director of strategic partnerships at Christie’s. How did you experience the transition from being a full-time career woman to being a mom for the first time? How was being pregnant at work and how did you balance breastfeeding and work?
The transition from full time career woman to mom & full time career woman was definitely a shock the first time around. I remember being incredibly sad in the weeks leading up to my first day back in the office. I had loads of anxiety about the thought of leaving my daughter with someone else during the day. We were so lucky that we found an amazing nanny who has been with us since Beatrice was four months old. Once I felt confident that we had hired a loving caregiver I started to enjoy the familiar routine of going to work. It felt great to be able to reconcile my pre-baby life with our new life as a family of three. The one constant in motherhood is juggling -- and those beginning months were all about it! When my son came along less than two years later, it felt so much easier because we already had our structure and support system in place.
You started as an intern at Christie’s and already became the head of events at the age of 26. Tell us more about your motivation and passion for your job?
I have always had a strong work ethic and it definitely fueled my early career at Christie’s. I jumped at every opportunity that was offered to me and tried to maximize it. Taking on the role of Head of Events for Christie’s North and South America at the age of 26 was an incredible challenge; however, I truly believe that you can achieve anything by being the hardest worker in the room. I made plenty of mistakes along the way but I looked at each roadblock as a learning opportunity that I could pass along to my team. It is also important to master a flawless poker face so that people always believe that you are in control even when things aren’t going your way.
What’s the craziest or most surprising piece you have auctioned off so far?
I specialize in charity auctioneering so I have auctioned off everything from a pony to a private island to a trip to Africa with Bill Clinton. Nothing surprises me anymore!
Since you have such a busy schedule and also travel internationally for business on a regular basis how do balance your career with your family life?
I have scaled back my travel a great deal since having kids. I also try to maximize every minute of travel so that I don’t waste any time getting home. I always take overnight flights when traveling internationally so that I can spend Sunday with my family and then hit the ground running as soon as I land the next day. I also learned early on that having a dependable partner is key. I used to leave detailed schedules about what the kids should do/eat/wear whenever I left for business trips. What I realized after a couple of trips is that my husband knows what I know or can figure it out. It is good for him to have his own relationship with the kids -- even if that means that my son goes to school wearing a pajama top under his sweater -- at least he made it to school!
We heard you are working on a book. Are you able to share something about it?
Absolutely! For years I have given a talk about “the art of selling” based on my experience running the benefit auctioneering and strategic partnerships divisions at Christie’s. I believe that the person with the most powerful voice in a room is the person who knows how to make their voice known and sell their vision. My book helps individuals master the art of selling anything. The book appeals to anyone -- whether someone is trying to sell themselves in a job interview to pitching a start-up to investors to managing a first date to a college student trying to turn an internship into a paying job. The book is filled with fun, insightful tips and personal anecdotes. I look forward to finishing it!
Working as the Head of Events in the past and now managing partnerships, you must be an expert in multitasking. Has your work experience helped you prepare for juggling working and motherhood and more?
I feel like I have my PhD in multi-tasking. Work definitely helped prepare me but motherhood has taken it to a new level. I write everything down on a paper calendar that I carry to/from the office every day. Every single activity/extracurricular activity/event/auction is on that physical calendar. It helps me keep everything organized and gives me an overview of our month at a glance so that I don’t double/triple book!
Do you have any advice for women who want to have the best of both worlds – being a mom and a working woman?
Don’t compare yourself to other working moms or stay at home moms. The only question you need to answer is “does this work for me”. If not, try to make changes in your life that will allow you to have a positive answer to that question.
What does a brand like Mitera mean to you and other modern women like yourself?
Pregnancy and early motherhood is tough in so many different ways. Not only is your body exhausted but you can also be ill, not feel comfortable in your skin, feel like your body is constantly changing, etc. Brands like Mitera allow you to wear clothes that look good throughout the changes of pregnancy and early motherhood. Despite the fact that I don’t feel 100%, putting on a beautiful, comfortable dress or top makes me feel like myself again.
Follow lydia on instagram @lydiafenet