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?
Because the genius of scientific advances often resides in the technological innovations which made them possible! Landing on the moon. Observing dark matter. Visualizing brain connections. Calculating with Qbits. Transplanting an artificial heart.
Your professional experience?
A dual training as an “Ingénieure des Mines” and a master at the Indian Institute of Technology, then a master's degree in neuroscience at University of Montreal. Eight years spent on the field, in a start-up in renewable energies and smart-grids in the Indian Ocean islands. One business creation: a Parisian place designed for coworkers and entrepreneur events. Three years of fundamental research in cognitive neuroscience: attention and AI. The creation of a podcast channel and years of volunteering in popular science and mentoring.
Your first experience with technology?
Work for food and energy self-sufficiency of islands. In these living laboratories, putting technology at the service of humans enabled me to craft new models of resilience: creating living places based on photovoltaic power plants coupled with cyclone-proof storage devices, coupled to prisoners’ reintegration, local employment, urban art, education, permaculture and protection of endemic biodiversity.
What do you do today, and why?
As in the hummingbird tale, I try to act at my scale to prepare the “after” of Anthropocene. I joined the Institut Mines-Télécom, the institution which initially forged me, in order to contribute to its own transformation. In particular, the challenge I am taking up is to equip the whole new generation of engineers with new postures, new human skills and technical tools. So that they can be a driving force for implementing new models of society.
Your strengths in this role?
My "Swiss Army Knife" profile helps me very much to manage change in the heart of industry. I have the scientific understanding of energy and digital transition issues, coupled to an ability to act on the field as well as to evolve in the upper reaches. In addition, my diverse experiences gave me a strong empathy, useful to understand the reality of each collaborator and to unite a community.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
Setting up a family business, quitting a well-mapped career to fulfill my dream of studying the brain, piloting a seaplane. So great sources of adrenaline! As for the missaps, do you know that cerebellum can learn only by trial and error? In short, my failures are countless. The most blatant are a school dropout and a construction accident. Moments of loneliness: my installation in India at 19 years old, a burnout, lost during a solo night flight in Quebec by -15°C.
Best moments, successes you're proud of?
Successful teamwork always had a special flavor to me. We won the title of champions of France of horseriding with my team of 4 when I was a child, I was so blessed! The Time-Out award received for the best bar in the 17th district of Paris, followed by one of our biggest event with all the staff, a pure madness! The realization of the disruptive solar power station that has been selected in the documentary movie “Tomorrow”, such a great pride. Neuroscience conferences held in pairs in prisons in Quebec, unforgettable.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
My sister. Meeting the challenges in life with two brains and two hearts has always been richer and more heartwarming. Three mentors also gave me confidence and guided me humanely.
Your hopes and future challenges?
To embark on a PhD in phenomenological computational neuroscience is my next challenge. In other words, developing mathematical models of consciousness with the European and Canadian community of researchers in hypnosis and meditation fields is my dream. Taking the chance to field these methods in hospitals and in civil society would be the cherry on the cake.
What do you do when you don’t work?
Gliding, snowboarding, surfing & yoga. Readings and practices of hypnosis and meditation!
Your heroes -from History or fiction?
So little known, Marie Marvingt, nicknamed as "the bride of danger", an aviation pioneer including a certificate to pilot a jet helicopter, she won 17 world championships and 34 medals in multiple disciplines and completed a Tour of France by bike, while the organizers refused his participation. Driven by a revolutionary spirit, she fought for women freedom and invented medical aviation, which saved so many human lives. More traditional, Leonardo da Vinci, our universal genius and humanist philosopher with infinite curiosity, I like highlighting his first source of inspiration, Nature, for which he was fascinated. He knew observing it so finely.
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
“You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created” – Albert Einstein
A book to take with you on a desert island?
Sri Aurobindo or The Adventure of Consciousness, Satprem
A message to young female professionals?
“Impose your luck, embrace your happiness and go toward your risks: by looking at you, they'll get used to it.” René Char