November 20, 2019
An entrepreneur through and through, Caroline started her first company in 2004, after growing tired of working up her way up the male-dominated corporate ladder and becoming determined to create her own opportunities. With Prylos, she infiltrated the earliest days of mobile apps and services (that was in 2004, three years before the first iPhone’s release) and turned her company into one of the field’s leading pioneers. Her meteoric success attracted the attention of Swedish telecom giant Doro, which bought out Prylos in 2011, rewarding Caroline with a seat on its corporate board.
“Nursed” (her words) on feminism by a politically active family, she envisioned her own commitment as a struggle for equality. For a young woman who very often found herself alone with “the men”, blazing her own trail meant adopting and adapting the codes of male success without batting an eye. She notably places great faith in the power of mutual aid among women, networking and experience sharing, which provides inspiration by showing what is possible.
This same passion and drive to shake up the status quo would push her, after several prolific years at the head of Doro, to return to entrepreneurship, where she could write her own story and choose which risks to take. She became an entrepreneur in residence at Kamet, AXA’s startup studio, in order to develop innovative services in health. Ideas abounded, but it was a short email from a fertility specialist that first got the ball rolling.
It would be reductive to chalk up Caroline’s involvement in this project to an idea of feminine empathy. That response overlooks the project’s unique approach to fertility. “Fertility is not just a women’s problem”, she is quick to assert. “40% of infertility cases are due to the male factor, and 20% are due to a combination of factors.” It is this experience shared by men and women alike that Apricity aims to make more positive, humanized and personal. Officially launched in early 2019 in the United Kingdom, a market where patients bear the full cost of treatment, the service provides support to some 100 heterosexual and homosexual couples, as well as single women. For the same price as classic treatment options, fertility advisors are available 7 days a week to respond to medical needs, with a full explanation of the process available on a mobile app. This is precious aid, especially for women and men who have no one with whom they can openly discuss these issues.
For Caroline, who now manages thirty employees across three sites in the UK and France, Apricity is a political adventure and a natural extension of her feminism: “Being a feminist means hiring women and supporting their advancement, as well as creating services to improve women’s daily lives”, she explains. With this significant contribution, Caroline has already noticed a change in mindsets: “Career support for women is starting to change. We are seeing more corporate HR managers including fertility in their benefits packages. Once a touchy subject, fertility is now becoming a competitive advantage for employers”, she concludes.
“Women are key to developing our overall vision of being an ever closer partner for all our customers, since women engage us and push us to answer their specific needs in innovative ways.” Thomas Buberl, CEO of AXA.
Published in 2015, the “She for Shield” report was the first to comprehensively explain women’s lack of financial protection, especially in emerging economies. Since then, we have stepped up our efforts to stop discrimination against women, in the area of business financing as well as access to healthcare.
For the fourth year in a row, AXA is an official partner of the Women’s Forum, an international event devoted to ideas and solutions for unleashing women’s leadership in the economy and society. Read more about AXA's participation in the 2019 Women's Forum.