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Tim Biscaye

by | May 17, 2023

In this interview series, we chat with members of our club to help you get to know them better. Today, we talk to Tim Biscaye about his life and work in the region.

What brought you to the French Riviera and how long have you been here?

Please tell us about your family origins!

The story really starts around 1892. Well before my own birth. And takes me through almost 40 countries of the world for work.

The connection starts with my family origins. A growing and then undeniable attachment since childhood and through adulthood.

I am the grandson (Timothy George Biscaye) of immigrants to the USA. A French Basque Grandfather George Eugene Biscaye from l’AUDE (village d’Alet Les Bains – which is 18 km south of Carcassone).

My great grandfather Eugene Biscaye had married a French woman Marguerite from Montbeillard. They immigrated to New York City from the south of France during the blights of the 1890’s – of wheat in the south of France and potatoes in Ireland.

On my mother’s side my great grandfather, an Irishman (Bell)from Belfast, also came during the same timeframe due to the potato blight.

I was raised, the son of Pierre E Biscaye and Nedelaine Bell Biscaye, in the suburbs of NYC. In a household that lived largely according to French social customs.

Though never realized that eating escargots. Having big elaborate meals for the Réveillons. And a large bottle of red wine under the table were not the norms in American households.

So, how did Tim Biscaye end up in the south of France?

I first came to France as a boy of 5. In the summer of 1968 when my father worked for 6 months in Pau as a scientist.

Returned again in 1985 to marry my sweetheart who was from Aix en Provence.  And we returned in 1989 for me to pursue graduate studies in Montpellier. With the main objective of getting my French up to speed so that I could work in francophone Africa.

My eldest son Pierre was born in Montpellier in 1989. As was my daughter Gabrielle in 1991. André Jacques, my youngest André, was born in the USA between relocations from Morocco to Mauritania in 1992.

From 1990 to 2018 – we just kept moving, exploring, launching into new work challenges and living life adventures.

Career Tim Biscaye

Professionally I am an HR expert. A leader of people and builder of HR teams, HR functions and growing companies.

But I think a good majority of my professional roles have been more of highly energy, high demand transition management interventions in startups or turn-around situations. Across a number of sectors as well as in multi nationals with huge teams and operations to manage (1600 people).

I am sort of a jack of all trades. A fireman who is good with strategy and vision, shaping and building that vision. Very numbers focused who also has a strong entrepreneurial orientation.

I have repeatedly been drawn to humanitarian and community development projects. Which is why I originally left the NY Metro area in 1989. And I have worked in many countries across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Europe (38 different long-term country assignments) while also working in 8 different business sectors.

At some point, around 2000, I thought that my French dream was over. Due to personal circumstances and ended up living from 2000 to 2009 in Colorado USA. I picked up HR and management roles, working in restaurants to pay the bills.

During this period I spent 12 months, 2004 to 2005, with my kids in Cambodia. In 2009 my 2 boys and I relocated back to Africa, Burkina Faso, for another regional management role. My daughter did not come as she was away for 1st year in Uni.

In 2010, again due to family circumstances I ended up in Biot commuting weekly to West Africa for a Dutch NGO.

Setting up Accendo Group

In 2010 I also accepted a contract buyout from this regional turnaround challenge in Ouagadougou. And set up Accendo Group – an HR consulting, recruitment & head hunting firm.

A few years later I started working also in Real Estate in 2013 for a bit of diversity of activity and income and moved over to Villefranche sur Mer. As I didn’t like how many Brits and anglophones lived around Biot/Valbonne.

In 2014 moved down into Riquier as I wanted to really be in a Niçois community.

However, in 2016, for work reasons (earning enough income to live here) I went back into management and mentoring roles with NGOS in Africa, N. Africa in the Middle East and spent the next three years living out of a suitcase and traveling.

Since 2012 I’ve also been an adjunct faculty at IPAG Business school in Nice lecturing in strategic HR, diversity management and women in leadership. In 2018 or so I took on career coaching for students and recent grads.

During this time I met the love of my life. And in Dec 2018 I made the decision to give up my international work career and live here full-time. But trying to find work at 55+ proved difficult. As recruiters and employers could not fathom why I would take an underpaying job to live here.

I’ve tried to explain that the only thing that counted was be able to “prendre le café le matin avec ma chérie.”. I took a 66% net pay cut to start with a French IT Recruitment firm in Sophia Antipolis.

For most of these past 6 years we have lived at her house up in the Esteron Valley at 1000m on le Mont Vial in the village of Toudon.

So what does he do today?

Since march of 2017 I have been walking through the naturalization process to obtain French nationality. And it appears that any day my name will be noted in le JO – journal officially. As my file has passed the last approval step. But I’ll gladly wait as long as it takes to regain my Biscaye’s family original nationality.

Three years ago during COVID I bought an apartment off Le Promenade in Nice. In the quiet old neighborhood of le Vallon Barla / La Madonette. We live there weekdays and spend weekends up at the Toudon house.

In 2020 I relaunched accendo groupe (now with an ‘e’) with a greater focus on local tech recruitment and IT solutions and service. But we couldn’t get enough new clients and revenues.

So in 2021 I modified again the target client focus of accendo groupe to international clients, the emerging markets and working with startups and scale ups either as an executive coach, an HR expert, or in a transition management role.

In life, what is important?

The most important thing is ATTITUDE. And my personal mantra is to CARPE Diem-Live big-dream bigger-love always and be warmhearted.

So in living the moment and pursuing my dreams I made the choice of settling here in 2010 and making this my home.

Secondly, its family! Living with the love of my life and being the father of three globally based, amazingly talented and passionate young adults. Two daughters-in-law and now two wonderful ‘petite filles’ (granddaughters).

I love hiking, birding, camping, working in the garden, cooking, French wine and both sunrises and sunsets.

What does the company that you work for do?

Accendo groupe SARL is now in it’s 4th version, having originally set up the structure in 2010.

It’s my company and in 2020 I relaunched accendo groupe with a greater focus on local French tech recruitment though struggled mightly during COVID to establish my activity.

Since modifying the focus of accendo groupe in summer 2021 to international clients, the emerging markets and working with startups and scale ups we’ve found good traction.

Right now we are 4 independent consultants in Pakistan, Germany and Sri Lanka. Though I’m the only one based in France.

I will be adding more consultants. Both young emerging leaders as well as some graying pros to the team going forward. And have a number of working partnerships with other consultants.

Currently we have clients in Dubai, Ethiopia, Senegal, the Philippines and NY city. A project coming along in Benin. Along with clients in metropolitan France and in Mayotte.

Why did you decide to start your own business?

I wanted to keep my work connections with my past business activities and network in Africa. So I set up my consulting company as I wanted to live here and travel less.

Over time tried to find decent paying work with french companies. But only once had one CDI ( at a 66% paycut to my international salary). So quickly migrated back to consulting. Having the CDI facilitated my being my apartment though.

Though it is lots of work. With significant costs and challenges with the ebb and flow of clients. I find it best facilitates my desire for a quality of life and more work – life balance.

What would be your best advice to others thinking about living or working on the French Riviera?

Living here is a decision of the heart and a choice. I believe it is a journey. And that the process shouldn’t be rushed but studied and also enjoyed.

I have lived here now for almost 13 years. Moved locations 4 time before I found the little place I wanted and could afford. And that would facilitate my work and living objectives.

It is also quite nice that ma compagne (life partner) had a house up in the mountains. So we really have the best of city life and living in a small village in the mountains.

Carpe diem, breathe in enjoy, be thankful for the sunrises, and be warmhearted to those around you.

Fun facts about Tim Biscaye!

Since when do you live on the French Riviera?

August 2010.

Where are you originally from?

Born in Connecticut and raised in metro New York/New Jersey.

What is your favourite wine?

Vacqueyras, Gigondas, Rasteau en rouge. St Joseph, Villar sur Var en blanc. And piscines of local Rosé

What is your favourite spot on the French Riviera?

I love the quai des docks in Port de Nice. Sitting on the top of Le Mont Vial. And my morning exercising on Le Promenade des Anglais.

What else would you like to share with the reader?

I am an ambassador for the Marque – Côte d’Azur France since 2020. The below links speaks to why I am passionate about living and building businesses here.

Would you like to be introduced on our website and social channels like Tim Biscaye as well? Sign up for the Business Membership or contact us for more information.

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