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You don’t want to feel remorse, so you really have to say “OK, I may not have all the odds on my side, but maybe I can try it and have the courage to do it, above all.”


From Italian cycling to Luxembourg’s metal industry: an entrepreneur’s journey

Marie-Christine Mariani, founder and manager of MCM STEEL since 1998


Why go from employee to entrepreneur?

When I worked in cycling, it was a small family with a lot of interesting things to discover. I was in charge of all that was, let’s say “public relations.” So, for almost a year and a half, I was in contact with some very major entrepreneurs and it fascinated me. Mostly because they had created, built… they had really done some amazing things. And I have to say that I also had the example of my father, because he too had founded companies that he later sold. I really tried to jump in, first by finding the job that would do for me, and especially the niche I wanted to develop. So, if I hadn’t worked in cycling first, I might not be here today, because it taught me a lot. It taught me the power of hard work, the power of stepping down…


The courage to take the plunge

You have to have the courage to do it, because that’s the first step. It’s the first stair in the staircase, because it’s not easy, you’ll meet a lot of barriers. But the good thing is that you’ll manage to jump all those barriers. And let’s say, as you start your way up the staircase, each time you climb a step, it makes you stronger, and you can say “well I accomplished this, I’ll focus on that.” And in the end, as I said before, you don’t want to feel remorse, so you really have to say “OK, I may not have all the odds on my side, but maybe I can try it and have the courage to do it, above all.”


Why Luxembourg?

When I was deciding which niche I wanted to do in steel, I asked myself “Who would my suppliers be?” And it turns out Europe’s major forges are in Holland, France, at the time there was also Arbed here in Luxembourg. So, I looked at the map, drew a little circle with a compass, and realized that in Luxembourg, within a 400km radius, I had my biggest suppliers. And it also let me use a language I knew: French. At the very beginning, when I first came, it was extremely cosmopolitan, it was a very young country where, and still today, you could set up without any major hurdles. So, that too enabled me, since I had some contact with Arbed at the time, to start my company here. Also, from an administrative standpoint, it wasn’t overly difficult. You had to show you had the skills for the job and the studies that went with it. So, it was the ideal place.


How to transition?

At first, I kind of kept a foot in two shoes, which is to say, on the one hand, I was freelancing for companies like the Tour de France, who I was still doing some consulting for, or working on certain races. And on the other hand, I had my company that was brand new. I was learning too, and I knew that in the beginning I wouldn’t be able to live solely from that. I was really all alone, so I was in charge of everything. And keeping a foot in two shoes also let me invite certain suppliers and clients to watch a bike race and talk business. I remember the first year, when I went to the accountant and told him my salary, he said “But you’re below the minimum wage,” which to me already seemed huge, because in Italy, salaries weren’t like here.