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?
In tech, the result of the work is often a product, an object. Seeing the physical expression of my work and how people apply and manipulate it is essential for me. I also love to watch the process of transformation from one material to another, as far back as I can remember, it always stays a kind of magic whether you know the mechanisms or not.
Your professional experience?
PhD in Organic Chemistry, I have expertise in the synthesis of high value compounds, separative chemistry processes and surface modification. Since 2014, CEO of AJELIS, focused on new filtering materials and solutions for liquid and gaseous effluent treatment, metal recycling. Trophée des Femmes de l'Industrie 2018 - Usine Nouvelle.
Your first experience with technology?
During the period of my thesis, I created and managed a company for the custom synthesis of organic molecules for the pharmaceutical sector. It provided both great experience in chemistry and financial support for the studies of our team and our future students.
What do you do today, and why?
I am implementing new tools for rapid response to industrial accidents, either preventively or in crisis situations. In addition to materials for waste water depollution, I also offer solutions for air purification and personal protective equipment. I want to work towards the preservation of natural resources and the protection of people.
Your strengths in this role?
More than ten years of expertise in the design and development of materials that filter toxic, strategic metals, radionuclides and my previous entrepreneurial experience resulted in applications that meet customers needs for the protection of the environment and people.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
In the life of a researcher, there are many challenges: from failed scientific experiments to the need to accelerate foreign languages learning. Coinciding this with the launch of a start-up was a very big challenge that led, and still leads sometimes, to big moments of loneliness. Time management and priority setting are keys to meet these challenges.
Best moments, successes you’re proud of?
I am happy when I see the application and the concrete usefulness of a product I have developed. Sometimes its evolution leads to a new destination than the original one! The recent example is the creation and commissioning of new self-decontaminating textile filters in response to the COVID health crisis. We had not planned the activity of this material which was left in a drawer.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
My AJELIS Start Up was born following the awarding of the 2014 World Innovation Contest Prize which was the real starting point. I would like to thank their committee for giving me this chance and particularly Dr. Claudie Haigneré, an exceptional woman, for her advice and her confidence. My partners, my team and some industrialists are also precious assets.
Your hopes and future challenges?
I would like to successfully conclude new partnerships in the treatment of industrial waste water, air filtration in buildings, domestic water filtration and continue our projects in nuclear and military activities. These actions, as well as the evolutionary structuring of the company, will be the major challenges to take up.
What do you do when you don’t work?
I enjoy hiking in the mountains, skiing, cycling and playing tennis. I like gardening. I sometimes draw watercolours in a modest way and I get back to the piano. I also like to travel and to learn about various aspects of French regions and foreign countries. I am fond of sailing, photographing regattas and partying.
Your heroes -from History or fiction?
Marie Curie is the obvious heroine of the chemist I am. Today, her life principles and revolutionary ideas deserve attention: "in life, nothing is to be feared, everything is to be understood". As a fictional heroine, I think of Lara Croft, an explorer, beautiful and intelligent, who shares the same principle of "never letting people or events get you down".
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
André Dacier's “ Dire fait rire, faire fait taire " which means “ Action speaks louder than words” or this one with a similar meaning from Mark Twain : "They didn't know it was impossible, so they did it".
A book to take with you on a desert island?
It depends on the context, but I think I would take John 'Lofty' WISEMAN's 'Practical Guide to the Extreme' or Jules VERNES' 'The Mysterious Island'.
A message to young female professionals?
In my opinion, a woman naturally has a strong intuition as well as a good capacity to listen, I would advise her to trust in herself and overcome a fear of change. Everything changes, but your reaction matters more than what happens to you. To tame the precious time that passes, to learn continuously, to smile at life even when it is difficult are essential points.