Discover the faces of WorldSkills Lyon 2024: Barbara Sonnery-Cottet and Mylène Calabre

14 August 2023

Meet Barbara Sonnery-Cottet, Workshop Manager* in Beauty Therapy at WorldSkills Lyon 2024, and Mylène Calabre, Workshop Manager Assistant*. The pair met three years ago while working on an Erasmus+ project for WorldSkills France, and have since become very close.While Barbara grew up participating in various contests and competitions (poetry, running…) Mylène competed in rowing for years.Sharing a passion for excellence, challenges, and self-improvement, they now work together as an enthusiastic duo for WorldSkills Lyon 2024.

Barbara’s resume is one of a kind:  after completing vocational training in hydrotherapy and perfumery, the Workshop Manager got enriched with a series of professional opportunities in the beauty therapy and care field. She now works in a technical and vocational education and training (TVET) facility, while also owning a cosmetics company. Barbara was named Meilleur Ouvrier de France (= French best craftsperson), a prestigious title awarded to the best professional according to a category of trades.  This multi-talented professional has been familiar with the WorldSkills movement for more than 20 years. Before becoming a Workshop Manager, she actively promoted the Competition within her TVET facility, encouraging students to participate in WorldSkills competitions: “I love to pass on this spirit of challenge to students, and encourage them to grow and improve their skills”, she shared. In 2011, she officially entered the WorldSkills team, participating in the organization of the 2012 National Finals in France. She has since been actively involved in the movement. 

Mylène joined the WorldSkills movement in 2014 as a WorldSkills France Competitor in Beauty Therapy. She participated in EuroSkills Budapest 2018, and later became a jury for WorldSkills France competitions. For her, the journey in Beauty Therapy began after an internship in a beauty salon during her teenage years, where she realized that working as a beauty therapist was “much more than just waxing and removing hair”. She quickly became attracted to the multitasking aspect of the beauty therapy field, and the variety of things to do. Mylène gained some experience in prestigious companies and is now the manager of a boutique and institute for a young brand combining micronutrition and skincare in Paris. To her, “It’s fascinating to witness what you bring to a person thanks to your hands, your energy, transmission, and the spiritual exchange which can result from it.”  

The duo shared with us their thoughts and insights:

On stereotypes regarding Beauty Therapy:  

Beauty Therapy is regularly faced with multiple stereotypes regarding related careers, that are often downgraded. They both agree that mentalities are evolving and that people have been recognizing the value of beauty therapy and care, especially in the context of a collective rising need for self-care.  

On the importance and relevance of vocational training: 

Raising the profile of vocational training and of all the skills and trades related to it is a necessity for Mylène and Barbara. Both hope that the promotion of skills and education against stereotypes can start early at school, to fight the idea that only the “traditional”, long studies path exists for young people, and to encourage them to follow their passions, regardless of the type of training associated with it

On what they would like to say to potential future Competitors… 

“Try. Until you’ve tried it, you don’t know how amazing a Competition like that can be and how it can positively impact your life.” Mylène  

“You just have to go for it. Entering competitions can sometimes be frightening, but I always encourage young people to give it a go.” Barbara 

…and to future visitors of WorldSkills Lyon 2024 

“Come and discover the most beautiful skills Competition, run by a young generation that wants to excel, that works hard and that is extremely talented. That’s the beauty of it. There’s so much to discover. The sharing, the talent and the youth are all there. If you want that “wow effect”, come to WorldSkills Lyon 2024!” Mylène 

“You have no idea what a young WorldSkills Competitor can achieve. Their work borders on excellence, sometimes even reaching it, and they can do things no older adult would be able to match. It’s powerful. Go and see what young people are capable of doing!” Barbara  

* Supported by their Assistants, Workshop Managers are qualified and experienced people in their skill who are responsible for workshop installations, preparation of materials, workshop security, Health, Safety, Environment, general tidiness and neatness of the workshop area – during a competition.

All news