Académie des technologies

Laura Létourneau

  • Expert advisor on digital and ecological transformations
  • Services du Premier ministre
  • 33 years old
  • Sponsored by Nicolas Curien

Why a career in tech?

Technology is fine when you forget about it. Digital, just as innovation or money is not a goal in itself. It is rather most often a powerful instrument to reach more fundamental objectives. It is also a culture of transparency, cooperation, and agility, all precious qualities when implementing public policies.

Your first professional experience with technology?

Therefore… I forgot it! 

Your professional experience?

I first worked for two years in the private sector, in the field of ecological transition. During my training period at Corps des Mines, I wrote with Clement Bertholet the book « Uberize the State! Before others do it for you », advocating the transformation of public utilities towards a collaborative pattern: the « State as a Platform ». This model enables public authorities to leverage external innovations while guaranteeing democratic values in order to offer public services of the highest quality. I then implemented the book’s recommendations at Arcep (the French regulatory agency for electronic communications and Post) and at the Ministry of Health. Since September, I have been appointed by the Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister to capitalize on this experience in order to accelerate other transformations, notably the ecological transition.

What do you do today, and why?

During the past three years and a half, I co-led the Ministerial Delegation for Digital Health. Our goal was to use digital tools in order to empower the citizen, to facilitate coordination across health professionals and to develop both medical and organisational innovations, in an ethical framework which protects medical secrecy, leaves nobody behind and encourage a sustainable digital development.

Your strengths in this role?

My sensitivity, and I don’t think it’s because I’m a woman. It is commonly believed that one must wear a steel shell to resist, especially in times of crisis as during the covid pandemic. However, sensitivity is not a sign of weakness. It rather means being responsive enough to identify the real cause of blockages and find out alternative approaches. It also means listening to weak signals in order to make better decisions. It means being touched by others’ misery and wishing to fight against it. Let’s dare humanity!

Past challenges, failures and disappointments?

I practiced handball a lot and I kept from it the habit of never considering losing as an option! Therefore, I developed the ability to believe that I never lose, by forcing myself to see the glass half full, whatever happens.

Best moments, successes you’re proud of?

When an industrial told me that the pace we requested from him was hard but that, as a citizen, he was grateful to us. When somebody told me he wished to join the Ministerial Delegation for Digital Health because our team « radiated joy of living ».

People who helped, influenced or made your life difficult?

In the Administration, life is difficult… Discouraging, sometimes. But I believe that it is less because of this or that person than of a system it is up to all of us, civil servants - politicians, companies, citizens - to improve! The progress made in digital health with, for instance, information systems to fight against Covid which has been set up in record time and “Mon espace santé”, shows that it is possible.

Your hopes and future challenges?

The new challenge I dedicate my time to today: capitalising on my experience on digital for health to make other causes progress, such as the digital transformation of other public services, as well as a transversal meta-cause requiring a general mobilisation, namely the green transition.

What do you do when you don’t work?

I dance forro (a kind of Brazilian tango) and hip hop with Mia Frye, the heroine of my teens.

Your heroins (heroes), from history or fiction?

Putting Mia Frye apart, I’m not very comfortable with the concept of hero, nor with that of villain. Human beings are not 0 or 1 digits. The most inspiring persons hold their part of shadow while villains hold a part of humanity. Moreover, any success is necessarily collective : one never acts alone.

A saying or proverb you like in particular?

Nelson Mandela wrote: « May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears! ». Clearly I would prefer our choices to lead our societies towards a « Great Relief », as the result of a ecological transition shaping a future world in which we’ll live together better, rather than they be guided by the fright of a « Great Replacement ».

A book to take with you on a desert island?

Rather than a book, something to play music in order to keep dancing!

A message or advice to young female professionals?

Be free and enjoy!

THE CHATELET
QUESTIONNAIRE

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