Who is Augustin Wigny?
CEO of Cameleon, the first private sales company in Belgium and the first eco-building in Europe.
Cameleon, the first eco-built shop in Europe
A career path made up of encounters
International institution, banking sector, ministerial office, consulting, commercial field, ... There are some who have had a very full and varied career! Augustin Wigny (1969) is one of them. It has to be said that in the Wigny family there is stimulation in the air, from a very young age. A grandfather who was an illustrious politician, an uncle who was a senior member of the International Monetary Fund, another who was head of a major European bank. These are all role models in the family, sources of inspiration but also of pressure. "It is obvious that we could not be satisfied with mediocrity," admits Augustin Wigny.
Doors to the world
After Latin-Greek at the Collège Saint-Michel, he chose the ULB Solvay business school. After a rather literary humanities, he wanted content. Pure physics tempted him but he preferred to listen to reason and the reality of the job market. In parallel to his studies at Solvay, Augustin did a Bachelor's degree in Social and Political Sciences in Antwerp. "It was definitely the year that made the biggest impression on me at the time because, apart from finding the subjects fascinating, these studies were focused on people.
In the same vein, Augustin Wigny is keen to open up to the world. While his friends from university were applying for jobs in Belgium, he took a flight to Washington and the World Bank. "I knocked on every door, sent hundreds of CVs, even put some on the windscreens of the biggest cars in the car park! After three or four months, the door was the right one and I got a project.
Although he stayed at the World Bank for almost two years, he had the opportunity to spend a few months in Africa, particularly in Ethiopia. A period he describes as fascinating. "These are incredible memories. I remember, for example, finding myself deep in the savannah, in the hut of a village chief, discussing the circulation of money! For him, these two years at the World Bank will be first and foremost encounters, multicultural exchanges, an infinite source of personal enrichment. "A great gust of wind from the sea". However, he knows that expatriate life is not for him, too attached to his roots, to his native Belgium.
So he returned home. Eager to meet new people: "I arrived in Belgium with a new curiosity, a new spirit, a new impetus. It made me meet many new people. This does not prevent him from recalling old contacts. For example, Peter Praet, a professor for whom he had been an assistant at the ULB, opened the doors of the Générale de Banque to him. Augustin Wigny stayed there for four years as a senior economist.
In 1999, Peter Praet left the bank to join the cabinet of Didier Renders, Minister of Finance. Augustin followed him but joined the cabinet of the Minister for Telecommunications and Public Enterprises, Rik Daems. "When Peter Praet left the bank, he sort of took me in his suitcases", Augustin smiles. Two years later, he returned to the private sector and the Boston Consulting Group as a consultant. Here too, it was the result of meetings: "At the firm, I was constantly in contact with consultants. I got to know them and their work and one day I wanted this type of job.
Public sector, private sector, consultancy, entrepreneurship, business... the transition from one to the other is totally natural for Augustin Wigny. He hates the idea of a career that is too planned and sees the world of work more as a great carousel: "there are floats that pass by and you have to know how to seize them at the right moment".
The big jump
The biggest break came when he arrived at Caméléon. But once again, it was above all a story of meeting and friendship. "I had known Jean-Cédric Van der Belen for a long time. One day he came to see me and asked me to help him, he was in the middle of restructuring the liabilities and balance sheets of his company. At the time, I was travelling a lot for BCG and had long waiting times in airports. So it was between two planes that Augustin Wigny compiled the Chameleons files. "As I worked on these files, I realised that what Jean-Cédric had created was phenomenal. The discussions between the two men went on and on until one day in 2004, Augustin decided to take the plunge: he resigned from BCG and joined Cameleon for good. While he recognises the very entrepreneurial reflex, he insists above all on the complementarity in terms of skills and shared values: "We are completely aligned on values such as the word given, honesty, integrity, human values in short. This is reflected in the spirit that has reigned at Cameleon since its inception and its very family-oriented, young, dynamic and professional culture."
Today, Cameleon is a company that does not suffer from the crisis and is constantly renewing itself. The leading private sales company in Belgium, it has a turnover of more than 40 million euros with a growth rate of over 30%. Cameleon is also the first eco-built shop in Europe. In its Brussels outlet, there is even a piano. Augustin Wigny, an experienced pianist, plays there from time to time...