Académie des technologies

Fanny Morel

  • Ground Segment System Engineer
  • Airbus Defence and Space
  • 29 years old
  • Sponsored by Bruno Le Stradic

Why a career in tech?

Working in a technical environment makes me face, every day, new complex, completely unknown and always enthralling problems. Most of the time, team work is the key to solve problems. These new challenges make my job interesting and fun every day.

Your professional experience?

I have not really chosen to become an engineer. It chose me instead, for two reasons: first because I was a very good student, and second because I have always been curious and willing to learn. After French Baccalauréat, I naturally followed the classic French engineering studies: "Classe Préparatoire PTSI-PT" and then "Grandes Ecoles d'Ingénieur" (Ecole Centrale de Lyon -RWTH Aachen University). I studied Bio-Mechanical Engineering in Germany, but my profile is more generalist, not that specialized.

Your first experience in technology?

In 2014, I worked for a few months at CLAAS, formerly Renault Agriculture. This company is producing farming machines in Germany and in France. In the Engineering team, I have worked on designing a touch screen that was intended to be integrated in tractor's cabins. Today, this screen is mass-produced and installed on every CLAAS tractor. My dad himself uses it every day on his farm. My own work was concretely useful for someone, could you imagine a more rewarding feeling?

What do you do today, and why?

I am working as a System Engineer in the space industry, for Airbus Defence and Space. My job gives me the opportunity to have an extended vision on our space products conception, from the design phases to operational phases. I am contributing to lots of different technical subjects, in a multi-functional team. I am responsible for the coordination of the technical teams (in charge of development, validation and maintenance activities). This coordination is indeed needed in order to design, together, a technically relevant product, which covers the client need. In more concrete terms, I am currently working on the design of the Sentinel-1 satellites control ground segment, which is part of the European Earth Observation program Copernicus.

Your strengths in this role?

I'm curious, open-minded, I pay attention to others and to other ways of thinking. I know how to synthetize a complex subject or problem when needed and to understand it quickly. I'm always willing to learn new technical subjects.

Past challenges, failure and disappointments?

The space industry (and especially the IT domain) in which I am currently working is not really in line with my specialization (Bio-Mechanical Engineering). Coming back from Germany to France after this specialization, I simply failed to find a job in this domain, which is not very developed in France, at least less than in Germany. This situation was not comfortable and the 6 months I have spent to find a job seemed really long to me. But this disappointment can be put into perspective today, as I have managed to pick myself up and have found a new career path. Changing ways is never a failure, when one still does what they like!

Best moments, successes you’re proud of?

The best professional moments I keep in mind are the success obtained and shared within the team. What a pleasure to celebrate an achievement reached together, with a lot of work and effort! From a more personal point of view, I'm always proud of me and of my job when I can see that my work is useful for others.

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

In my professional life, some people have truly believed in me and have let me take responsibilities. Those people have been really important to me. Thanks to them, I have proven my skills and found my place. The value of my work has been recognized. This mechanism is beneficial for me as well as for them.On the contrary, some people find it difficult to believe inothers and to let them take responsibilities. They are perhaps afraid of losing their own responsibilities and activities. Those people made my life difficult. Moreover, they can be harmful for teamwork. I know how difficult it can be to counter this behavior, but one solution would be to clearly define, before collaborating, the exact job perimeter of every project actor.

Your hopes and future challenges?

In the near future, I would like to evolve within Airbus towards management activities, as a project leader or team manager. My objective is to work for people to make them happy at work, but stillin a technical context.I have also another more personal challenge: I would like to transform the family farm into a small farming enterprise, by improving its production model. My father will retire soon, and this milestone makes me think about taking his farm over, building something new with it, on the basis of what I have learn in the industrial domain.

What do you do when you don’twork?

Plenty of different things! I am fond of mountain sport. Climbing, hiking, skiing make me escape in the Pyrénées. I also play the trombone in a brass band, in which I've taken the role of president. Voluntary activities are a big part of my free time, and I enjoy it. In addition to my presidency role in the brass band, I take part in lots of voluntary initiatives to help young people, and especially young girls, in their course choice. My objective is to make technical studies less scary, and to show that the engineer position is open to everyone, male or female, that is willing to give him or her self every means of success.

Your heroes –from History or fiction?

Olive, main character of the film Little Miss Sunshine. She is not only endearing and funny, she also makes her dream come true, ignoring what other people could say.

A saying or proverb you like in particular?

I have both of them: - What is truly important isn't the goal, but the path you take to reach it. - Alone you go fast, together we go far.

A book to take with you on a desert island?

Cent ans de solitude from Gabriel Garcia Marques. Because loneliness goes perfectly well with the desert island theme. And because this book is as extraordinary well written as its incipit tells it to you.

A message to young female professionals?

This advice is addressed to every young people, man or woman, that has to choose (for his/her career or studies... or for any other subjects). Like Olive, do what you want to do, for and by yourself, ignoring what other people could say of think. Stay curious, attentive to new opportunities, open-minded, but has drive for your passions, because they feed yourself.

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