The questionnaire answered by the Women of Tech is a variant of the Proust questionnaire, named not because Marcel Proust got lost in the Paris metro, but in memory of Emilie du Chatelet, a woman of letters, mathematician and physicist, renowned for her translation of Newton's Principia Mathematica and the dissemination of Leibniz's physics work. She was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Bologna Institute. Emilie du Chatelet led a free and fulfilled life during the era of the Enlightenment and published a speech on happiness.
Why a career in tech?
I was attracted by science very early, propelled by my family education and by the desire to understand and act. I went into sciences to be able to do my part in building a better world. My experience in research has been very rewarding; I became aware of the difference between the researcher and the engineer. It then became clear to me that I am an engineer.
Your professional experience?
My father gave me a taste for mathematics and my mother the taste for biology. At school, I was curious and doing well at school. My experience in the Police in Evry, during my service at Polytechnique had a deep impact on me and reinforced my desire to get fully involved in public action. At the same time, I discovered the industrial sector which became my passion. After my training at Corps des mines, I started my career by working for the government in the development of Occitanian enterprises. Then, I joined an electronics company whose main activity was in transportation. Since 2018, I am leading an association whose objective is to answer the needs of the energy transition by developing the French industrial sector. In addition to the industrial and technological aspects of this role, I found exciting both the political and economic challenges I meet.
Your first experience with technology?
My first professional experience in technology was during my research years. Our research capacity was extremely related to technology. I used to manipulate genetically modified cells with state-of-the-art microscopes to observe the cells absorption mechanism. Research a world where innovation isn't just a word. I worked for a lab in Cambridge who had most of its funding source from one patent related to a monoclonal antibody.
What do you do today, and why?
Today, I lead an association that brings together the government, industrialists and associations making the ecological transition an opportunity to reindustrialize France. I am convinced that having a dynamic industry is vital for any country aiming in creating jobs, acquiring wealth and defending democratic and environmental values. Today, one of our major challenges is to have enough technicians, engineers, scientists able to effectively build the energy transition in Europe and develop the industry.
Your strengths in this role?
My scientific curiosity leads me to explore further the field of energy in all its dimensions. My academic background gives me self-confidence. My experience in scientific research taught me the importance of methodical doubt. In my daily life, I try to have the right balance between doubt and action which pushes me to be surrounded by the right people. Finally, my love for interaction and action drives me to connect people and instore dynamics. Umberto Eco once said that learning a new language is a new way of seeing the world. I believe it's the same with our work experiences. I had the chance to work in the field of research and technology, in public administration and in a mid-sized company. Thanks to these experiences, I speak three foreign languages, and I have many ways to see the world. I navigate between these three sectors to facilitate for the energy transition and reindustrialize my country.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
To be the only woman in her thirties in an executive committee entirely composed of men in their fifties was a real challenge. We are forced to assert ourselves while keeping the methodical doubt which is also our strength. The difficulty in recruiting young engineers in power electronics when there are plenty of need for them. We really need to communicate better on technology and science.
Best moments, successes you’re proud of?
When the New Energy System Committee was set up, a colleague from another strategic committee thought my task impossible. Today, more than 1 200 people are engaged in the strategic committee. I am pleased to see that the participants are happy to work in a process that goes beyond the direct interests of their own company. We have realized 80% of the planned actions and in particularly promoted hydrogen in the recovery plan. I have learnt a lot from the board members and the various contributors.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
I think of exceptional teachers I had in chemistry, biology, economics... a science club facilitator who marked my youth. They nourished my curiosity and made me grow. In my career, I had the opportunity to work with exceptional colleagues, political as well as industrial figures from whom I learned tremendously both on a professional and personal level. I am very grateful to them.
Your hopes and future challenges?
We are facing episodes of profound change which are likely to be frequent. I would like to strongly commit in the transmission of knowledge to our youth, knowing that they are more sensitive to this new reality.
What do you do when you don't work?
I teach my two toddlers to become fulfilled, curious and committed adults.
Your heroes -from History or fiction?
Marie Curie and Simone Veil are roles models for me. Their commitment, perseverance and ability to create new possibilities in their respective fields are a great source of inspiration.
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. Oscar Wilde
A book to take with you on a desert island?
The praise of escape from Henri Laborit
A message to young female professionals?
Believe in yourself and dare to live your dreams