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 it is an exciting field, which allows you to work with fantastic people, from diverse countries and culture. And also, because it is well paid!
Your professional experience?
I was educated by the public system, from the baby daycare to the PhD! After graduating from Supélec (an engineering school), I joined France Télécom (now Orange) in 2001, to prepare 4G, 5G and now 6G. In parallel, I obtained my PhD from INSA. I am a "Future Networks" Orange Expert since 2011.
Your first experience with technology?
During the 2nd year of Supélec, I worked as a trainee in a research & development lab at Bouygues Telecom, on mobile networks (2G and 3G, at that time). It was exciting, dynamic, international and the atmosphere was joyful. I was immediately seduced.
What do you do today, and why?
I currently lead a research project on a nearly "energy-free" communication system. It reflects existing ambient signals already emitted by wireless networks and it self-powers by harvesting solar energy. I am convinced that such approach will be useful to communicate in a more energy efficient way, in the future.
Your strengths in this role?
I rarely suffer from writer's block. I am curious about criticizms. I use them to reinforce or eliminate research paths. I like when creations are collective and happy. Finally, I prefer to bring a complex technical discussions between experts to a conclusion, during virtual meetings, rather than waiting for a face-to-face meeting.
Past challenges, failures and disappointments?
I had to compete twice to the national entrance exams to engineering schools, to finally get one I liked. The two collaborative research projects I have led, have been accepted for funding at their second submission. Failure are very lonely moments, but I end up forgetting them.
Best moments,successes you’re proud of?
My favourite moments are numerous and collective: each co-invention and each experimental validation. I feel proud of the 2016 Economical Impact prize from the French Research Agency, the 2018 Irene Joliot-Curie Prize, in the Women & Enterprise category, and the 2018 Ferrié Prize for my works on focusing for an energy efficient internet-of-things.
People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?
Among the numerous people who impacted me in a positive manner: my Prof. in Physics Prof. Jean-Marie Brébec, my PhD supervisor Prof. Maryline Hélard, Claudie Haigneré, the Director of Research at Orange Labs Nicolas Demassieux, Julien de Rosny and Prof. Mikael Sternad (more than 10 years of collaboration). I quickly forget pains in the neck.
Your hopes and future challenges?
Contribute to the building of a sustainable 6G thanks to ambient backscattering and reconfigurable intelligent surfaces.
What do you do when you don’t work?
Family, trips, music, books, movie (in movie theaters) and gastronomy.
Your heroes -from History or fiction?
Simone Veil and Barack Obama since I read "A Life" and "The Dreams From My Father". I also like imaginary heroes with weaknesses and bravery, and the magical secondary characters who give them a bit of help: Ulysse and Athena, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, Doneky Skin and Lilac Fairy, Asterix, Obelix and Panoramix, etc
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
Liberty, Equality, Fraternity
A book to take with you on a desert island?
It is really a pity to limit yourself to a single book. I suggest you take a wireless device with satellite connection for instance, a solar panel to power everything and get your illimited internet access funded, against results of experiments for instance.
A message to young female professionals?
I do not really have any advice to give. But I can tell what works for me. I take risks, but with serenity, because I always prepare a Plan B, just in case. When I find no one to advise me on something I'd like to do: I just do it anyway and I learn on the job.