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?
My interest in technology was born out of my wonder about the world. I never cease to be amazed by the ability of mankind to strive to enrich its knowledge, to design new instruments and processes from all that has been inherited over the millennia. The ongoing challenge is to make good use of this ever-changing technology. Defining this good use interests me as much as it questions me; all the more so, in view of the necessary transformations of the world to respect our environment.
Your professional experience?
Being 25 years old, my professional experience has – I hope – more steps forward to take than steps taken. My strong interest in sciences (not only) led me to begin engineering studies in Supélec, with a specialisation in Control Engineering. These years were particularly enriching, between theoretical training, practical experiments, professional experiences (through more than 18 months of internships, in France and in Germany, in quite different structures and positions).
Your first experience with technology?
My first steps in a technological company took place during my first internship in a SMB in Bordeaux, i2S, a manufacturer of vision systems. Working in a production workshop allowed me to be confronted with finished products, which is a useful learning experience for an engineer who designs these products.
What do you do today, and why?
I am fortunate to be a PhD student at the Centre for Management Science in Mines Paris and to be supported by the French public investment bank (Bpifrance). My research works focus on growth support for deeptech start-ups. It is an opportunity to continue my training by acquiring knowledge in Design Sciences and about new models of corporate governance. In this way, I am developing skills specific to training through and for research. The institutional framework opens me up to the public sphere and to the world of research. Moreover, the subject of my PhD leads me to discover technological solutions with a social and environmental impact and to discuss their potential trajectories. The choice of the doctorate was also motivated by its international recognition.
Your strengths in this role?
My curiosity and my constant search for variety in my daily work help me to open several paths. The generalist background I have benefited from my studies, allows me to be interested in various technological issues. Finally, my friends tend to emphasise my ability to relate to others in all situations, which I agree with. To change the subject, I want to point out a major asset of my thesis work: the remarkable quality of the supervision I receive. I am convinced this is an essential element for progress. During a PhD, it is even more important to carry out research.
Past challenges, failures, and disappointments?
My career guidance, particularly for my end-of-study internship (in IT at EDF R&D) and then for my thesis, was motivated by my desire to confront myself to new fields. I have always been attracted by this challenge of adaptability which satisfies my curiosity and my desire to broaden my vision. It will probably be a driving force in my future choices. From a completely different point of view, I had the opportunity, greatly helped by the Covid-19 health crisis, to live another adaptability experience by settling alone in the French countryside and working from home for seven months. I necessarily wondered about the place of technology in this new life, immersed in the heart of nature and far from innovative technological solutions. For a city-dweller like me, this time conducts me to transform the way I look at society.
Best moments, successes you’re proud of?
When I became a student representative at CentraleSupélec (initially within my class, then within the official bodies), I had not imagined how much I would learn. This learning was even more important as the stakes were high: construction of the new CentraleSupélec engineering curriculum and integration into Paris-Saclay University. These developed my taste for the issues of higher education. It is a commitment that I am proud to have made throughout my studies. This last very formative experience led me to repeat it within Mines Paris, as a representative of the PhD students on the board of directors.
People who helped, influenced, or made your life difficult?
During my schooling, I was lucky enough to have several demanding teachers (from the first year of high school). This may not have always been comfortable at the time, but the benefits are numerous in the long run! Thanks to these teachers, I developed a strong taste for several subjects, and I learned to appreciate the value of effort. I am sincerely grateful to them. The years at CentraleSupélec were particularly rich in terms of encounters and I would like to pay tribute to the “Direction des Etudes” (“Head of Training department”) which was able to help me on several occasions and taught me to look at situations in all their complexity by opening to other points of view.
Your hopes and future challenges?
The present main question is the one of the “post-PhD”. The challenge is to combine all my expectations, especially to give time and energy to the service of society and integral ecology.
What do you do when you don’t work?
Beyond management research, as fascinating as it is, it is the quest for God that attracts me. In September 2020, I began an introduction to theology at the Collège des Bernardins. In addition, I try to surpass myself and I appreciate doing so even more in pleasant company: to do this, we take on some sport challenges with friends. The latest one was a 25 km trail run with a 1800 m elevation gain. It's also an excellent motivation to do sport regularly.
Your heroes from History or fiction?
The discovery of sciences was associated with the discovery of those who have gradually developed them. Thus, Marie Curie aroused my great admiration, when I was in secondary school, at the time of first career guidance: the models of women in sciences are inspiring!
A saying or proverb you like in particular?
If in doubt, I repeat to myself this sentence from the Gospel according to Matthew: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” (Mt 7:7). Then I move into action!
A book to take with you on a desert island?
I will of course take a Bible with me, to give me the opportunity to understand our humanity and culture better. This is the first step in thinking about an effective transition and the second is to find the tools. For this, I can only recommend reading Refunding the Enterprise [personal translation of the French title: Refonder l’entreprise], by Blanche Segrestin and Armand Hatchuel: they invite us to transform our vision of the enterprise by putting back the collective project of its mission at the centre and thus, to be able to change the criteria of our decisions.
A message to young female professionals?
Have confidence in yourself and always trust in others because we go further together. Above all, always enjoy your activities!