In an interview to France’s Les Echos, then relayed by our shared Alumni on LinkedIn, Emmanuelle Desires, Danone’s Communications’ director in France, referred to her role as “Chercheur de sens”. This could translate loosely as “researcher of meaning”.
But not only, and this is where it becomes interesting.
The French name “Chercheur” is used for both the professional role of a ‘researcher’ and the more personal/informal name for the ‘seeker’.
The first implies looking at and developing meaningful stories or links between her company’s purpose and what society is concerned about. This was her focus in the article.
The latter talks of a quest-like journey for greater meaning (or purpose) in our lives.
This doesn’t stop there, as ‘sens’ in French translates as meaning, but also as way/direction, as in ‘sens interdit’ (e.g. the ‘wrong way’ sign on French road) or ‘sens unique’ (one-way street). This is familiar to any unlucky holiday driver finding himself shouted at for driving the wrong way in a French village – usually accompanied by various shrugs of “Ha! Ces Anglais!
And this strikes me as exactly right. The role of a central communication (or marketing) officer is one that should at its heart be focused on researching andseeking, meaning anddirection; and then sharing it.
Said in English, it is about Purpose.
It’s shorter, but what’s the fun in that?