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Aline Sylla-Walbaum: from tax inspectorate to Christie’s!

Aline Sylla-Walbaum1 Aline Sylla-Walbaum2 Aline Sylla-Walbaum3Aline Sylla-Walbaum has succeeded an amazing career! This French- Senegalese is highly qualified, all so prestigious, HEC (French Business School), Science Po and the ENA (National Administration School) of which she finished third while she entered as first of her class. It was also there she met her husband, of German origin – Of these years, she declared: “Studies were the domain with which I was endowed because nature gave me neither artistic talent nor real sports capacity. Studying was for me as holding the keys of a bigger understanding of the world: history enlightens the past; economy, foreign languages and political sciences help me to understand the present; geopolitics gives tools to plan ahead. It is thus with happiness that I became a “Multirecidivist” student. Having said that, I benefited all the same of campus life at HEC and its famous evenings, life in Shared student house in Milan, passionate political sciences debates and a work experience at the heart of the United Nations …

She was director of cultural development of the Louvre. She said: “professional choices imply the taking into consideration of three criteria: the manager, the company and the contents of the mission which is assigned to you. At the Louvre, three indicators were straightaway in the green. (…) My experience at the Louvre allowed me to be the manager whom I am today. In a public environment without carrot nor stick, it is necessary to know how to be creative in order to find a collective mind in people and in oneself the same.”

She became then an advisor for the French Prime Minister François Fillon. An unforgettable experience which she summarized in a quotation in English: “There are two things in the world you never want to let people see how you make them: law and sausages”. It is of course about the replica of the cult series The West Wing.

She left Matignon and joined Unibail-Ro-damco, for which she became a Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of development.

She is today manager Of Christie France. This institution represents 5 % of the market of the world of art and 5 % of the whole Christie’s turnover. In 2012, 231, 4 million euros of sales for Paris were achieved upon her arrival, that is 13 % more compared to previous year.

Aline Sylla-Walbaum was always fascinated by art. “I wanted to understand how artists perceive the world that surrounds me”

She is being noticed at the General Inspectorate of finances. At the door of the French Office for Protection of Refugees and the Stateless Persons (Ofpra) at Fontenay-sous-Bois, the guard asked her “to stand in the line” as everybody.

Her French mother is nurse by training and his father, of Senegalese origin, is an employee at Remington typewriters manufacturing. She was covered with love during her childhood but she admitted to have been confronted with racism: “I avoided that my father takes me to school. A class mate made me a remark on the skin color of my father. What implied that it was not good to be Black. I did not want to be different.”

Aline Sylla-Walbaum has not forgotten anything of her African roots. Her father made her share the passion of her native country. “What I like of this country, is that it always had a good star. In West Africa, it is the one which has the most calmed relationship with the former colonial power. And then, we were lucky enough to have Senghor!”

Two parents, two skin colors, two cultures, two religions. “For me, religion is a cultural fact. I always had a geopolitical and intellectual approach towards this. Works of art are a non-polemical way to understand it”.

She often visits with her three children her Senegalese half-brother, married and settled in Dakar.

Of course, at her position at Christie, she follows African artists: “it is the English speakers of the continent that have the highest quotations as the South African Marlene Dumas or the Nigerian Yinka Shonibare.”

Bertrand Badré, managing director in charge of finances of the World Bank, summarized well her personality when he declared: “Aline Sylla-Walbaum is led by a principle of satisfaction, plenitude, professional and personal achievement.  Her joy of living and her enthusiasm, driving force of her relational ability, take precedence over her ambition, which is not overwhelming”.

His philosophy of life is simple and contagious: “the job of my dreams consists in being a conductor allowing any soloist to develop the maximum of his talent.”

Express CV:
Certified by the ENA, class of Cyrano Bergerac, at the IEP Paris (Science Po ) and at the HEC – France.
Since January, 2012: Chief Executive Officer of Christie France.
2009 – 2011: Deputy Chief Executive Officer for group development at Unibail-Rodamco.
2007 – 2008: Culture and Communication advisor for French Prime Minister François Fillon.
2002 – 2007: Assistant general administrator and manager of cultural development of the Museum of the Louvre – France.

Her musical tastes:
“I listened on a loop johnny Clegg and Tracy Chapman as well as Michael Jackson and Madonna, idols of my generation. Genesis, Pink Flyod, REM and of course Youssou N’Dour, Miles Davies, Purcell and Chostakovitch.”

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