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 have always loved science and math. Tech is also out of loyalty to a mathematics teacher grandmother, to a historian dad specializing in the history of industry, and above all it is the deep desire to answer the challenges of our time which are of course climate change with a focus on energy.
Your professional experience?
I had a very French classic background that led me to the Ecole Centrale de Paris. A strong interest in energy production naturally brought me to EDF, the French Public Utility. It was obvious. I had an absolute will to work in industry: technique and technology fascinate me, as well as the French industrial power of nuclear power.
Your first experience with technology?
My first industrial experience was at Air Liquide: I was doing an internship there on CO2 capture and storage 2 months later, I discovered the maintenance of nuclear power plants at EDF. I was thus able to discover more than half of the French nuclear sites. I met the operators there with their daily challenges, their technical skills, and their proximity to the installation (the nuclear reactor, the engine room, the control room, etc.). Quite naturally after that, I wanted to get closer to operating power plants. This implied a real choice of life since the power stations are in the countryside and you had to leave the city, me the Parisian!
What do you do today, and why?
Today I am head of the Command Control department of the Flamanville 1 and 2 power plant. It is a management position, in a very technical environment, having to meet many requirements (safety, security, environment, quality, etc.), and with very competent teams in the operation of reactors. Driving is at the heart of the challenges of producing carbon-free electricity. This is where the electricity produced on the grid is monitored in real time by varying the production. We pilot the reactor in real time, it's a very demanding job, you need technical skills, rigor and a real team spirit. I am committed to having young women on the teams and hope that soon one of her will be in responsibility of production.
Your strengths in this role?
Desire, passion, energy, rigor, dynamism. A lot of feelings for the employees who work with me, for their technical and human skills, and their commitment. A daily desire to keep my legitimacy with them.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
My first weeks at a power station were difficult in an unknown world: woman, Parisian and very young. It was a big personal challenge…. I was successful and that supports me today. My great moment of loneliness was in engineering school when I had to choose my path ... You have to choose what you want to do with your life, it seemed dizzying to me. I needed a year off, to experience life in a company and to better understand the jobs that were available to me. I understood how important it was for me to meet the challenges of my time, and to contribute to them in my own way.
Best moments, successes you're proud of?
The best moments undoubtedly are those that I share with my teams. It is the pride of a successful project, for example the return of a reactor to the network after almost 2 years of shutdown, these are exiting moments that reward our determination and our skills.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
Of course, there have been leaders who believed in me, and it is very important that they trusted me. But for me, as a manager, it is even more important to be recognized, accepted by my peers and by my teams. I am keen not to disappoint them, and this is a daily source of motivation.
Your hopes and future challenges?
Take advantage of the opportunities offered by EDF to discover other professions, other technical sectors but always in industry.
What do you do when you don't work?
I have 2 children aged 4 and 6 so that keeps me busy. I really like the mountains, in Flamanville I discovered the sea and the feeling of liberty you get on a boat : these are in a way the same personal challenges facing the immensity of nature, whether it is the mountain or the sea. We are cut off from the world. , we are left to ourselves, we become humble again in the front of nature.
Your heroes -from History or fiction?
Without hesitation Marie Curie: she was an exceptional woman, in love, scientist, determined, mother of a family, patriot,… and twice Nobel Prize winner. I also really like Pénélope Bagieu's "Culottées", a comic book with a lot of humor about strong women.
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
"To live is not to resign yourself": I like this phrase from Albert Camus I don't want to give up when there are difficulties or obstacles,
A book to take with you on a desert island?
Without hesitation also "Les contemplations" by Victor Hugo. But I couldn't settle on one book, I'd have three more: Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdu", I've never really had time to read it, so maybe on a desert island I could finally do it. I also really like Tolstoy's "War and Peace" and finally Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice".
A message to young female professionals?
To paraphrase Obama, I would say: "Yes you can"!