Video report: A French woman in the man's world of trucking
What's it like being a north African-origin woman in in the male-dominated world of road haulage? Djédjiga Chalal is the business development manager at Time Services, a family-run express delivery company to the south of Paris. In part three of a five-part series of radio and video reports on people making a difference in deprived neighbourhoods in France she discusses her experiences.
Four years ago Chalal was faced with one of the toughest decisions of her life - whether to continue in her career at the world-renowned express delivery company, TNT, or to quit and join the family business.
Her father, who left Algeria for France 30 years ago, wanted to retire. He had spent the past 15 years building up his own express delivery company, called Time Services.
Chalal’s father started Time Services with just one van and a loan from his eldest daughter to buy a warehouse. But being illiterate limited his ability to expand the business.
It took his daughter six months to make up her mind and take over. Looking back today she doesn’t regret it.
“With my experience from TNT as a business analyst I knew I could bring a lot to the business," she says. "We’ve got a lot of new business recently, which comforts me in my decision to join my family business.”
Thirty three-year-old Chalal is one of six brothers and sisters. Perhaps unusually for a family with Algerian origins, her father chose for his youngest daughter to succeed him.
“My family in Algeria are very proud of my father, as they know he is illiterate, so for him to come to France and set up a business and leave it for his children is amazing for them,” she told RFI.
Chalal has used her experience of growing up between two different cultures to her advantage. Over 20 per cent of north African migrants who come to France set up a successful family business.
In the male-dominated world of road haulage, Djédjiga Chalal is a novelty. She says being a woman helps her in the negotiation process.
“The men are kind to us when it comes to negotiating. They know so long as we deliver on our promises, then being a woman is not significant.”