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?
Tech was not an obvious choice. Rather creative and quick to build relationships and amass ideas, I was lucky enough to evolve in an industrial environment where I very quickly felt and appreciated the pragmatism, expertise and ability to go fast and far. Aware of the greatest challenge facing humanity, climate change, I quickly became convinced that technological innovation had a central role to play in enabling our cities to adapt and become more resilient. I am now convinced that some of the answers will come from the transformation of the industrial world, and this is my contribution.
Your professional experience?
Despite a penchant for the arts and literature, I followed a scientific academic path that I wanted to be as human-centered as the academic path allowed. After a preparatory bio course, I graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure de Géologie (ENSG) as a geological engineer. To understand telluric current, its impact, and to be able to decipher landscapes larger than our individualities, that is not given to everyone! After graduation, I earned a Master of Science degree at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh. I then joined Schlumberger in 2005, a company renowned for its cultural diversity and technological expertise. As a geological engineer, I quickly progressed to a multi-disciplinary project team management, then software development, and finally became a department manager and part of the management team of the largest R&D branch of the Group in 2018. Alongside this career path, I have been personally involved in numerous civic associations focused on education, promoting girls and women in scientific careers, and, increasingly, in climate-related initiatives. The conjunction of these professional and personal trajectories gradually pushed me to look for a way to use the power of the Schlumberger Group to have an impact in the low-carbon world. In 2017, with two of my colleagues, we started to develop an "evenings-and-weekends" initiative based on geothermal energy in addition to our jobs. After a growth phase of the project and a business plan, I went to convince the CEO of Schlumberger in Houston to give us free rein to develop this idea. We did that in 2019 with the creation of Celsius Energy, which connects buildings to the Earth's energy to reduce their heating and cooling carbon emissions by a factor of 10. Our company now has 90 employees in France and the United States.
Your first experience with technology?
I was in charge of characterizing the underground resistivity imaging. From my office, I could interpret landscapes that were created tens of millions of years ago and that are now buried a few thousand meters below our feet.
What do you do today, and why?
Twenty-five percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from heating our buildings. The good news? Our buildings are sitting on a huge battery of calories! I am CEO of Celsius Energy, which offers a simplified geoenergy solution to massively increase the use of this energy battery with immense potential. My mission is to promote this energy and to make it accessible to all types of buildings, new or renovated, through robust and simple technology. Because the IPCC reports leave no doubt: any lever to limit global warming must be implemented, and every tenth of a degree counts! Celsius Energy is part of the solution by addressing two major challenges of our time: the decarbonization of our buildings and our energy sovereignty. I have the great fortune to wake up every morning with the feeling of being able to take specific actions for the good of our planet.
Your strengths in this role?
Enthusiasm, vision, pragmatism and... my two co-founders with whom the adventure is possible and who complement my qualities with their expertise and excellence.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
Two years is a long time! Between 2017 and 2019, there were many ups and downs before Celsius Energy really blossomed. And among the lows, there was that moment when I thought the group wouldn't follow us, and I had to challenge myself to find another way. I even applied to UNESCO to defend the world heritage of biodiversity. They didn't take me on, and that's good: I'll have more impact with geoenergy!
Best moments, successes you’re proud of?
The day we were given carte blanche to launch Celsius Energy and the influence we have today, the ability to influence this large international group towards a new path. And the first customers who trust us and whose social and environmental commitment we support.
People who helped, influenced—or made your life difficult?
Naturally positive, I especially want to mention those who help and support me in this human and professional adventure: Olivier Peyret, president of Schlumberger France, our first sponsor and our permanent coach, who pushes us and challenges us on a daily basis and allows us to rise above and outdo ourselves. Claudie Haigneré: by her humility, her elegance of thought and support, a beautiful inspiration, and such kindness that I try to pay forward. Kindness is not shared, it is multiplied. Bertrand Piccard: our best ambassador to various audiences—what enthusiasm! Olivier, Laura, Alexandre: my husband and my children, who support me and enrich me with their discussions and their experiences.
Your hopes and future challenges?
A challenge: limiting the impact of climate change A desire: to educate, to engage the world in a pragmatic, humanistic and realistic vision.
What do you do when you don’t work?
I try to raise my children to connect with what surrounds them and to cultivate their taste for life and nature in a thousand ways! I also try to keep a moment for singing which I particularly like and I continue to be involved in several local associations.
Your heroines (heroes)—from history or fiction?
All these women who knew how to make their way in a world that did not want to welcome them. Recently, I have been touched by these young women who speak out on issues, who provide a platform and try to bring people together. The first of them was certainly Olympe de Gouges who led the way.
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
A low-carbon demonstration is like a woman in the COMEX, alone, it makes a nice brochure but the impact is not there! Let's increase them!
A book to take with you on a desert island?
On a desert island, let's follow the lead of those who could have discovered it, like those Spanish galleons carried away by storms and fantasies of glory and gold. And why not guided by a woman, like Doña Isabel Barreto in Je te vois reine des quatre parties du monde, by Alexandra Lapierre.
A message or advice to young female professionals?
Be confident and break the mold! Life is too good to let others dictate how you live it. Surround yourself with good people, those who inspire you and make you grow.