- IMD Business School
News Stories · Process Management - Decision Making

Chief Happiness Officer transforms organizations by identifying internal barriers

From medic to entrepreneur, Céline Relecom (EMBA 2016), has worked hard to design her own career and encourages other IMD alumni to do the same.
October 2020

“You’re allowed to do anything that you allow yourself to do,” said Céline Relecom with a professional coach’s precision in identifying the needless internal barriers that we sometimes erect for ourselves.

From helping senior medics looking for ways to balance their work with their family life, to doctors who, having reached the comfortable pinnacle of their hospital careers, are uncertain about setting up the private practice they always dreamed of, Relecom founded Happydoc to assist medical professionals to “design their lives and careers on their own terms”.

As founder and Chief Happiness Officer (CHO) at Happydoc, Relecom coaches other medical professionals and organizations to realign their organizations, individual careers or businesses according to their individual needs.

“Although I started Happydoc to coach other medical professionals with their career orientation, it grew organically. People who knew my background asked for advice with their organizations or startups and I realized there was potential to add that stream,” she explained. One of her latest clients, for example, is aeCHEM, a medical diagnostics startup that aims to provide next-generation portable diagnostic solutions for molecular testing.

A quick glance at her background confirms that Relecom lives by her own advice, for she has forged a path that has spanned medicine, business consulting and now entrepreneurship.

After four years as a hospital psychiatrist working with families and young people, Relecom realized that the profession she had worked hard to attain was not for her. In fact, she felt trapped in a faulty system.

“It is no longer a secret that many aspects of the hospital system are not working. I wanted to be part of changing that rather than remain trapped in it,” she said. And so she did just that.

Relecom navigated a significant growth period in her life, first with a move into strategic management consulting and then as a program manager for CHUV, University Hospital, Lausanne, where the opportunity to redesign and implement systems and structures met her growing sense of purpose.

From there, she started a family and undertook an EMBA at IMD, a decision clarified by motherhood, she recalled.

“Becoming a mother illuminated things for me and made me realize that work had to be really meaningful to be able to balance it against the priority of family. If I invested time in work, I wanted it to become more inspiring and meaningful,” she said.

Despite having to juggle her job with a demanding course and a new family, Relecom embraced the challenge and enjoyed the confidence-building gained by plugging the gaps in her business knowledge – an understanding of finance, brand and marketing. The building blocks were then in place for her to start her own business.

Additionally, working with the coaches on the EMBA course gave her a newfound awareness of the power of the coaching relationship and this provided the all-important inspiration for Happydoc.

“The coaches were so impressive and they made me realize that the relationship with people I helped could be different. It could be one of non-judgmental partnership, which encourages the opening up that enables growth,” she said.

Her advice to women hitting their 30s and wondering whether family and career are an either/or choice is to allow themselves to create their own version of life, integrating all the elements, activities and roles that they want to include. “It all hits at the same time – the possibility of doing a career-shifting qualification and starting a family. Building my nest and my new life was a good fit for me and I was not alone in this – there were quite a few babies born in my cohort!”