From Part-Time Teacher to CEO of Coucou French Classes with Victoire Lester

Imagine going from part-time teacher to the CEO of the same company. Victoire Lester’s journey is exactly that. Victoire began her career with a keen interest in the sociology of music. However, a serendipitous part-time teaching role at Coucou French Classes set her on a path into start-ups and business. Over seven years, she journeyed from teacher to CEO, helping evolve Coucou from a Brooklyn start-up to later expand across New York, L.A., and online.

In this episode, we discuss navigating between Coucou’s roots and growth, understanding leadership nuances, and how Coucou had to adapt quickly online if they wanted to stay afloat during COVID. Victoire gives us insight into hiring the perfect match, and it’s shockingly not about what’s on your resume! All this and more!

Watch the Full Video

Here’s What We Discussed

  • [00:01]  Victoire Lester’s Journey from Cultural Researcher to CEO of Coucou French Classes
  • [04:10] Balancing Roles and Growth as a Small Business 
  • [07:05] How Covid Affected Coucou’s Operations – How to Transition Your Business Online Successfully 
  • [13:06] Insights into Building a Harmonious Multicultural Team
  • [25:29] Balancing Authority and Openness as a CEO
  • [27:25] Bridging Online Learning, Bicoastal Operations, and Technological Integration
  • [34:40] How to Protect the Essence and Heart of a Business as It Scales

Finding the Right Fit when building a Multicultural Team

While teaching experience is valuable, Coucou places a higher emphasis on soft skills and the passion portrayed in cover letters. They prioritize candidates who are enthusiastic about the language, can lead energetically, and can create an engaging learning environment.

In their classrooms, the design and teacher’s aura are paramount. They aim for students to feel as though they’re learning from a close Parisian friend in a home-like setting, fostering trust and ensuring students return with eagerness.

How Diverse Experience Shapes Strong Leaders

Victoire’s hands-on approach, stemming from her initial role as a teacher to handling administrative tasks and filling various positions, equipped her with a comprehensive understanding of the company. Her experience in multiple roles has given her a 360-degree perspective on the company’s operations, strengths, and areas needing improvement.

Victoire strongly believes in the principle that effective leadership is rooted in firsthand experience. By immersing herself in various roles within the company, she asserts that one can’t truly lead or understand a position without having done the job themselves.

Learn About  Victoire

Victoire Lester is the CEO of Coucou French Classes. Seven years ago, Victoire started at Coucou French Classes as a part-time teacher. Founded by two French cousins in their 20s, the school was in its infancy, but Lester quickly became an integral part of its growth. From teaching to overseeing operations, she immersed herself in every aspect of the business. Recognizing her invaluable contributions and innate understanding of the company’s needs, Coucou appointed her CEO. Today, under Lester’s leadership, the once-small corner shop has transformed, showcasing the power of passion and dedication.


“I think communication is key; Communication and transparency and not being afraid to repeat yourself.”  – Victoire Lester

“One of the principles that I live by is to treat people the way that you’d like to be treated.” – Victoire Lester

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