Académie des technologies

Juliette Kahn

  • Deputy assistant technical director
  • Ministry of the interior and overseas territories
  • 38 years old
  • Sponsored by Thomas Grenon in 2023

Why a career in tech?

To simplify, facilitate, progress but also to understand, better observe and help to decide. Technology is not an end in itself. It is helpful to make society or is not. I remember a passionate discussion with a CNRS researcher during my Master 2 telling me: «technology don’t make thing easy for your modeling: it doesn't work, your model is wrong, it works, you don’t wrong yet».

Your professional experience?

I have a phD in computer sciences with a specialty in Natural Language Processing. I have always navigated between several very complementary scientific disciplines such as linguistics, signal processing and computer sciences. From a bachelor's degree rather oriented in human and social sciences with a minor in computer science, I ended up defending a thesis in computer science after a Master's degree in Language Industry... From there, my jobs has consisted in building the trust in so-called Artificial Intelligence systems. After a stay at the Stanford Research Institute as a guest researcher, I joined the Laboratoire National de Métrologie et d’Essais. I worked on the definition and implementation of protocols for evaluating the performance of information retrieval systems, robots, autonomous vehicles: everything that includes AI today. At that time, my job aims at define the best method regarding the level of maturity of the technology, from the first tests to their future production... The work that I carried out at the IRT SystemX at this period reflect this challenge. For example, it was necessary to propose the first simulation tests for autonomous vehicles. And the systems have made further progress, opening up real application opportunities. I then joined the French Administration to contribute to the digital transformation of Public Services as an Engineer of the Corps des Mines.

Your first experience with technology?

Code for research projects while I was in Master: websites first front then back, databases managing relational then non-relational… So as to better understand language and human-machine interactions. I then discovered the industrialization challenge, another adventure.

What do you do today, and why?

Currently, I am in charge of the transformation of a support department through data analysis as deputy director. This mainly consists of managing digital transformation projects: choosing the right products is only a very small part of the job, it is above all a question of thinking about the impacts of these new technologies on our ways of working, of supporting change through a learning offer and an adequate skills assessment. I like this job because it involves combining technical and human resources in order to better serve the public policies.

Your strengths in this role?

My energy, my resilience and my “helicopter” capacity: going into a crucial technical detail with passionate teams and just after negotiating a strategy.

Past challenges, failures and disappointments?

Make people understand what is beyond the buzz word “AI”. Today, everyone says he is doing AI. But why ? how ? What is really the break or the impact of these technologies? When is it worth investing? I regularly have to answer these questions. And each time, it's a challenge: Make people understand that the right strategy must sometimes go into technical details because that's where the added value lies. These elements, a decision maker does not always have the time to take them into consideration. My challenge is to make these elements intelligible both for the decision- makers but also to explain to the technical guys why this has not been understood and how we are going to have to find other solutions...

Best moments, successes you’re proud of?

Exchanges with technical communities: bring about an agreement between industrialists, academics, representatives of civil society. Compare points of view on a subject and come up with a concrete improvement project. In recent years, it has always been a policy of small steps: one improvement after another. But in the end, after a few years, I tell myself that we have built solutions on safe foundations.

People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?

My colleagues: all the projects I have carried out have been the result of teamwork. I learned from contact with each of them, whether they supported me in my choices or, on the contrary, clearly explained their disagreement with me.

Your hopes and future challenges?

There are many things to do in my field. A real question, for me, deals with the emergence of new French and/or European digital leaders. Will the Europeanmodel through its latest texts retain the talents? For the Public Service, it is also a question of consolidating its digital strengths. I hope to continue contributing.

What do you do when you don’t work?

I run, I play board games and I participate in wine tastings. The head, the legs, the pleasure in the technicality.

Your heroes -from History or fiction?

It's a difficult question because I like daily heroes: those who get up in the morning to do what they have to do because they think that's what they have to do. And I have met many such heroes. Thanks to them.

A saying or proverb you like in particular?

“Cultivate your garden” as Candide says: do what you are able to do.

A book to take with you on a desert island?

“Sophie's World” by Jostein Gaarder. I read it every 5 years since I was 18 and each time I draw new thoughts from it.

A message to young female professionals?

Trust in yourself, try and choose your chefs well!


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.

Emilie Du Chatelet

Woman of letters, mathematician and physicist

1706 - 1749