Académie des technologies

Sophie LE BELLU en

  • Manager Multimedia HMI Spec/SW Development UI|UX & Connected Services
  • Renault/Ampere Software & Technology
  • 38 years old
  • Sponsored by Saadi LAHLOU in 2023

Why a career in tech?

Because we live in a world governed by technology in all its forms: information and communication technologies, software development, embedded technologies, artificial intelligence, etc. I naturally came to tech through my training in cognitive sciences. The user-centred design and the use of complex systems and new technologies for personal or professional purposes in the industry are issues that I have always worked on and that have shaped and guided my way of thinking. They are the common thread running through my career.

Your professional experience?

After having completed a BSs in biology and an engineering degree in cognitics, I defended a thesis in cognitive sciences focused on cognitive ergonomics and work psychology. It was a CIFRE PhD (industrial PhD granted by the French Research Ministry) carried out at EDF R&D in a laboratory using video technology to analyse the human activity. I designed a system and a method for capitalising on vocational know-how and video training. They were later industrialised by the EDF Group's training branch. I was then selected by the European Commission for a Marie Curie intra-European research grant, allowing me to continue my research during a 3-year post-doctorate within a laboratory in social psychology at the London School of Economics (UK). I continued to work on the design of innovative professional training schemes in collaboration with the Norwegian police training centres. When I returned to France 6 years ago, I joined a cognitive ergonomics team in the Research & Advanced Engineering Department of the Renault SAS Group, where I worked on various innovation projects (autonomous vehicles, new driving aids, driving HMI, etc.). While joining the Renault’s HMI expertise network, I set up and managed a research project on training users to handle autonomous vehicles, a new vehicle paradigm having consequences on the driving cognitive schemes. Some of the results of this project are currently being put into practice (industrialisation). I was promoted to manager just over a year ago. And as I started to do during my thesis, I'm still modestly teaching at the same time, because I like the contact with the students.

Your first experience with technology?

I've been immersed in technology ever since I trained as an engineer: thinking, designing and using innovative tools and systems to study complex industrial problems while focusing on user/customer needs is part of my DNA. Designing a tool or device of any kind means above all studying and thinking about it as a socio-technical system in interactions (internal and external) with other systems, people, entities. This confrontation of techno-centric (technical feasibility) versus human-centric points of view is sometimes still difficult to defend in the world of engineering, but it's what I believe in and what I fight for.

What do you do today, and why?

I'm a manager at Renault Group. I currently manage a team of 13 committed and passionate people, made up of software developers, systems specifiers/engineers and innovation project managers in the field of automotive graphical user interfaces (UI) and user experience (UX). We contribute to the design and software development of multimedia HMIs involved in the cockpits of tomorrow's vehicles. The playing field is exciting, and the challenges are numerous.

Your strengths in this role?

My culture at the boundary between engineering and research, between the so-called 'hard' sciences of engineering and the 'soft' sciences of psychology and ergonomics. It enables me to support my colleagues in solving UX/UI development issues in a world of software and systems development, while at the same time driving forward a dynamic of innovation that contributes to the technology roadmaps in line with the Group's strategy. Listening, coaching, and co-construction with the “métier”, and also a collaborative vision of work are also part of my day-to-day working tools.

Past challenges, failures and disappointments?

Health problems forced me to find new resources to rebuild myself and change my career path when I was only 30 years old. I succeeded, I'm proud of it and I can say today that I feel totally in tune with myself and fulfilled in the job I do.

Best moments, successes you’re proud of?

A sense of achievement when I defended my thesis and published my scientific work. Great pride in having been awarded a Marie Curie research grant. It was a difficult and time-consuming application, but it was worth it! Becoming a manager. And having my current team contribute to the development of a product resulting from the research project I led during my previous position.

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

My mentor, Prof. Saadi Lahlou, currently Director of the “Institut d'Etudes Avancées” in Paris. His optimism, his slightly crazy but always visionary projects, and his willingness to think out of the box have always inspired me. He is an example of an atypical career path that seeks to change the world in all its endeavours. He has been with me since the beginning of my professional career, following me during my research work in Paris and London and continuing to advise me in an always benevolent way. Without a doubt, he is at the origin of the organisational, systemic and collaborative vision of the World that drives my conception of life and work.

Your hopes and future challenges?

I'd like to continue managing teams in the world of technology and innovation, supporting them to improve and grow individually and collectively, while pushing back the boundaries so that the technologies and products we design are always more efficient. I also want to continue developing my expertise so that I can make a strategic contribution to the industrial orientations of tomorrow.

What do you do when you don’t work?

I like reading, cooking, and yoga. Travelling too, to discover new cities, new countries and new cultures.

Your heroes -from History or fiction?

Marie Curie and Simone Veil, brilliant, determined and disruptive women.

A saying or proverb you like in particular?

What doesn't kill me makes me stronger.

A book to take with you on a desert island?

A novel or a thriller.

A message to young female professionals?

Give yourself the means to always be in tune with yourself and to turn your dreams into reality.


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