“I’m deaf but I listen!” : Frédéric Ewald, hearing impaired and top manager in MMA
Invisible and very visible sometimes. Whisper to the inevitable falsity: “long enough?” This way people look at you, get used to it, it doesn’t last long… The moderate “that” is the difference called disability, which affects about 12 million people in France. It comes in five categories: engine; senses (visual, auditory); psychic (pathologies that disturb the personality); (intellectual disabilities) and disabling diseases (Definition-Classification of disabilities, ICIDH and WHO). In addition, 2.7 million people of working age (15-64 years old) have an administrative recognition of a disability and, among these, 42% of people are active. Their employment rate is 36% and their unemployment rate is 14% (INSEE, 2020 employment survey). However, the unemployment rate is 7.1% in metropolitan France in the third quarter of 2022. Some, despite the obstacles, have demolished the glass ceiling. Frédéric Ewald, hard of hearing, is a top manager in MMA.
Manager without a phone until 2015
“I lost my hearing at the age of 5 and I very quickly underwent speech therapy: thanks to him I speak now. I am deaf, c “that is to say that I can hear thanks to the devices. Without them, I don’t hear anything”, says this director of the MMA agency network, who now manages almost 200 people and oversees a network of more than 1,000 agents. . Even with devices, it is necessary her lip reading: she can’t make phone calls or use remote communication tools, she can’t hear the words to a song and a movie has to be subtitled. A powerful tribute, “to my parents and my sister who gave me as normal an education as possible”. However, she could not hear the teachers with their backs to the blackboard, or had difficulty hearing them. “I got lessons from my classmates and I have someone every week who follows my progress against the program”.
At the end of this extraordinary journey, the baccalaureate, the Ecole Centrale de Nantes, then a law degree and an actuarial course. “What does not kill me makes me stronger,” wrote Nietzsche in the twilight of the idols. The illustration is by Frédéric Ewald. “I had to work differently, to find solutions: it is called “mental compensation” that allows you to recover what you have lost or what you do not have. “. Entering the world of work in 1997, at Covea (group of 22,000 employees to which MMA, GMF and MAAF insurance companies belong) as an insurance technician, he quickly managed life insurance teams. “My disability did not allow me to use the phone but by working with a team, having meetings and organizing work, I easily overcame this disability and climbed the ladder”.
Limited offer. 2 months for 1€ without commitment
Reduce the need to call others
In 2015, the “Tadeo” platform allowed him to make calls: the team transcribed the conversation into the computer in real time. “My life has changed, many things have become possible.” But, at the time of health crisis and through video, he uses this service excessively and explodes the cost. Then he discovered the application “Roger Voice” that subtitles phone calls through artificial intelligence, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, at no additional cost. “With these two systems, I can have an almost normal working life.” He is also supported by an excellent assistant. “I have succeeded in making my disability as invisible as possible. I limit the need to call others as much as possible. I want to be treated like everyone else. It works thanks to the kindness of others: my managers, my colleagues and even the whole company.” A model of inclusion, thanks to Covea’s CSR (social and environmental) work. Because verbal compensation requires a lot of concentration and strength, Frédéric Ewald breaks away with humor: “I’m deaf but I listen!”. He often speaks in public. “I am completely exposed. I claim perseverance, endurance and work: these are the qualities that disability has formed in me”. To those who hesitate to hire people with disabilities, he replies: “Look at what the person can bring as a benefit to the company and the team. He is not different or the same as the others. He is the one who gets rich!”
Christophe Donner’s narration
The eco book
The account of Denys de Béchillon