[Portrait] Yasmina Sandoz - Back to the Roots
A path hewn from wood, a voice amplifying her strengths in construction in France and beyond... Yasmina Sandoz has carved out her reputation by championing bio-sourcing, innovation, and exceptional craftsmanship. A multifaceted woman, her driving force is primarily about transmission. Portrait.
Elected Green, entrepreneur, patron, investor... Yasmina Sandoz is on all fronts. Her journey, woven with encounters and commitments, has not escaped the notice of the Swiss Circle of Women-Directors, of which she has recently become a member as a leading woman from French-speaking Switzerland. The association, advocating diversity and skills within governance bodies, works towards the visibility of women whose profiles are sought after by boards of directors; if one needs to guess the footprint or justify the influence of this figure in public relations, sustainable development, and bio-sourced construction in the timber industry for the past fifteen years.
Yasmina Sandoz, 48, doesn't shy away from contrasts; she cultivates them. She embraces this wealth of "pedigree" from her very origins, born of the union between a Franco-Polish Catholic mother and an Indo-Mauritian Muslim father. This mix is a reference point that sets the tone for her career, from her early days at RC Lens in the Hauts-de-France to her current position as an Administrator at the Franco-Swiss family company, Concept Bois Technologie.
Communications as her driving force With her high school diploma in hand, she already split her time between her studies and the fashion world, working at Jean-Louis Scherrer and Jeanne Lanvin. Despite her proximity to the catwalks, her first turn came on the road: during her Erasmus program in Germany, her encounter with her communication professor at the Fachhochschule in Pforzheim, who also served as the communications director at Daimler-Chrysler, propelled her into the world of crisis communication. It all began with the Class A – the Mercedes car that famously flipped over on the Nürburgring circuit in 1997, an incident that initiated her into her first crisis communication. This experience propelled her into the automotive universe, within the Volkswagen Group in Wolfsburg, once she completed her postgraduate degree in international communication in 1998-99.
In the industrial setting of Germany, her task was to standardize Volkswagen's communication and its brands globally. Her dissertation on platform strategy, particularly on the impact of brand image on the group and vice versa, referred to it as a sort of "marriage of extremes." That same year in 1998, things accelerated alongside Dr. Ferdinand Piëch, head of the Volkswagen Group and grandson of Ferdinand Porsche. She collaborated on the acquisition of Bugatti and then on the renovation of Château Saint-Jean in Molsheim (Dorlisheim, 67), where she became the "Castle Director" in 2001.
"La Vie en Vosges"
The year 2003 marked a turning point in France for Yasmina Sandoz when her spouse, an automotive engineer, joined the Honeywell Garrett R&D center in Vosges, only to suddenly pass away a few years later. The Grand Est region became her new chosen home; for 10 years, she worked in the public sector at the Vosges Departmental Council. Prior to that, in 2004, she brushed shoulders with aerospace luminaries during her time at Sciences Po Paris, intersecting paths with Claudie Haigneré, the first French female astronaut who was then the delegate minister for European Affairs.
Looking back, it wasn't just the automotive industry that fueled the passion of this multi-faceted public relations specialist; it was also the timber industry. Working towards economic development within the Vosges Departmental Council, Yasmina Sandoz was responsible for overseeing local companies' investments, scouting external projects, structuring the timber sector, handling missions in China, managing the Ambassadors of Vosges network, and promoting the territorial brand "Je Vois la Vie en Vosges". These missions became networks that shaped her newfound calling, guiding numerous industrialists in sawmills, both in the initial and secondary processing of wood, assisting manufacturers, and contributing to the industrial sector. She was recognized for her management of new factory establishments in the Vosges region, such as Ossabois or the Swiss company Pavatex. The general manager of Pavatex, known as a "true gentleman," eagerly awaited "her return from maternity leave to organize the inauguration of the brand-new factory in 2013." Three years prior, her passion for passing on knowledge took a new turn when her involvement in the timber industry led her to Jean-Luc Sandoz, CEO of the CBS-Lifteam group, with whom she formed a blended family of four children.
"Long-term Ideas, Short Supply Chains"
With him, she shares the same values regarding innovation, environmental respect, wooden and bio-sourced constructions—convictions that fuel noteworthy projects. One of these is the first Baubuche beech wood construction in France, showcasing the technical possibility of using hardwood for high-performance structural wood. There were around a hundred construction projects supported by the Department, alongside promotional events showcasing Vosges craftsmanship in the elegant settings of Parisian palaces. Beyond luxury, her trademark taste for excellence travels beyond the forests of the Grand Est, firmly rooting itself in minds geared towards a decarbonized world.
Her projects flourish both in France and Switzerland: as an official administrator with CBS-Lifteam since 2018, she supports Wood Construction Forums in France and Wood & Sports as well as Wood & Health symposiums in Switzerland. Employment, education, resources, complex and impactful projects—her comprehensive vision for promoting the timber-forest sector expands her network, fostering close interactions with the ground reality, attentive to the environment and human needs. "More engineering, less material," as long as it's sustainable—her ambition at CBS-Lifteam is to bring a more diverse and responsible perspective towards the biosphere.
Yasmina Sandoz, an anti-greenwashing green machine: the fight against climate change is more than just marketing for her.
Beyond her primary involvement in the timber industry, Yasmina Sandoz is an elected Green Party member of her municipality in Switzerland. She has also supported NGO projects, particularly aimed at improving the living conditions of refugees in Haiti and Mexico, as well as enhancing civil registry systems in several African countries like Cameroon and Guinea. Additionally, she has invested in a cybersecurity startup from EPFL, Global ID, specializing in biometric identification through vein network analysis.