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’ve always been inspired by the idea of working in an industry that would allow me to do something practical, working on the physical and material construction of things. Based on this conviction, I chose my studies accordingly and opted for the construction and concessions industry, where terms like “builder” and “developer” resonated with my own ambitions.
Your professional experience?
I graduated from ESITC Cachan engineering school. When I completed my engineering degree, I started as a works supervisor on construction sites in the Paris area. Then towards the end of the 2000s, I started working on concession projects, a financing model that was expanding rapidly, and I was able to gain a deeper understanding of complex financial and legal arrangements, design and construction studies, integrated maintenance costs, etc. In 2014, because I wanted to get back out into the field, I took over as CEO of the Société Marseillaise du Tunnel Prado Carénage and Société Prado Sud. I stayed there for six years before taking over as concessions Director at the Eiffage Group in 2021.
Your first experience with technology?
My first experience in tech was working as a works supervisor. I was able to compare what I had learnt during my engineering studies with the reality in the field, boots on feet. The works supervisor plays a crucial linking role: they manage the teams in the field, liaise with project management, with suppliers and subcontractors, they take care of budget monitoring, coordinate logistics, ensure that deadlines are met, etc. It's a role that carries a lot of pressure; you learn a lot. What I particularly remember from this initial experience was the human aspect. It’s where I learnt that you can't get very far on your own and that getting the teams on board is essential for any project.
What do you do today, and why?
In 2021, I took over as concessions Director at the Eiffage Group. I have worked for over 15 years on turnkey projects. My professional experience has allowed me to gain expertise in the entire value chain; from responses to calls for tender to operation of the works. My goal is to develop our portfolio of concessions in line with the Group’s strategy.
Your strengths in this role?
In addition to my technical skills, I would say my ability to unify and get my teams involved in new projects. It's a constant concern, you need to find the right levers to motivate and enable everyone to be fulfilled in their work.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
The calls for tender that we respond to are extremely complex from a technical, financial and legal point of view. I recall in particular an offshore wind turbine project contract that we didn’t win. You can spend months and years responding to bids and still not be selected. The disappointment is as great as the investment we make. Fortunately, however, this also helps us grow. We learn from our failures and very often come out stronger.
Best moments, successes you're proud of?
In 2019, the SMTPC obtained authorisation from the European Commission to build the Schlœsing ramp, an extension of the Prado Carénage tunnel in Marseille. To finance this project, the concession contract signed with the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis was extended by seven years and four months. This agreement came after years of discussions and several appeals. Many people no longer believed in it and thought that we would never succeed. This is one of the highlights of my career.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
I remember in particular one of my first managers who had faith in me when I was starting out and with whom I worked for a long time; he allowed me to go up for roles even when I didn’t necessarily have all the qualifications. I am loyal in my professional relationships, I keep in touch with people who have supported me and who continue to support me in my moments of doubt; it’s something I value.
Your hopes and future challenges?
My next challenge is to succeed in the role I have been given within the Eiffage Group, to involve my teams in new projects and to give them a long-term vision.
What do you do when you don't work?
All my free time is devoted to my family and my three daughters. The work/life balance can be delicate, I take great care to preserve it.
Your heroes -from History or fiction ?
Surprisingly, no names come to mind, so I must not really have any.
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
“You must give in order to receive”, I think that sums me up quite well.
A book to take with you on a desert island?
A book I haven’t read, I hate reading the same book twice.
A message to young female professionals?
Just go for it and be confident; pay attention to others: you cannot succeed alone, only by working together.