Learn about this Arts et Métiers alumna, now an engineer at Vinci Energies
TELL US ABOUT YOUR COURSE
"I decided to become a generalist engineer quite early, when I was about 14 years old, after conversations with my teachers. I wanted to take courses that would show me everything and allow me to choose a sector of activity as late as possible. Arts et Métiers ticked all my boxes with the generalist engineering course in the Grande Ecole programme.
These are really the only criteria that drove my decision because at the time, I knew nothing about the history of the School, its traditions or its alumni network.
So very early on, this choice guided all my studies: first, my secondary schooling focused on engineering sciences, where I was able to take courses that I instantly loved and confirmed my decision to specialise in this area. I then joined a PTSI PT preparatory class in Tours. Then I joined the class of 2014 on the Bordeaux campus in the Grand Ecole programme.
In the second year, I took on responsibilities in student associations: captain of the volleyball team, co-captain of the handball team and cheerleaders, and vice president of the Gala. For the latter event, more than the title "vice president", I really appreciated the management aspect of the role, which included two hours every week to organise, coordinate and manage 300 students.
This is why for my third and final year at Arts et Métiers, I wanted to do a dual degree at IAE: a Master's in "General Management - IAPP", which combines a lot of management, law, accounting, human resource management, etc., and which complemented my engineering training."
HOW WAS YOUR EDUCATION AT ARTS ET MÉTIERS AS A YOUNG WOMAN? WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO TAKE THIS PATH?
"There were only 10% women in my year, but there was very little gender distinction: we worked together and focused only on students' qualities and skills when assigning roles in student and club life. Our cohort was really kind and protective of women. The other students encouraged us a lot to get involved in clubs and the students’ union. It gave me some great memories of my course! Even in the preparatory classes there were few girls, so we were used to working in a more masculine environment.
Furthermore, I was lucky to grow up in a family where my parents encouraged me and my brothers and sisters to go into the professions we wanted to, without worrying about gender, and without pushing one path of excellence over another.
Also, I was quite independent, and I wanted to prove that I could choose my career on my own."
HOW HAS YOUR CAREER BEEN SINCE GRADUATING WITH YOUR ENGINEERING DEGREE? AND WHAT ARE YOUR NEXT CAREER GOALS?
"During my course at Arts et Métiers, my plan was to become a works supervisor. But as I met with professionals, I realised that maybe this role was not right for me. The Gadz’Arts network was of great use to me in this sense.
I did my end-of-study internship in project management at a Vinci company. I was then able to leverage my network of contacts at Vinci to apply for my first position. Among other things, I followed the incubator course developed by Vinci to become a business manager.
I worked at four Actemiums, which are companies in Vinci Group. At the end of the first year, one of these Actemiums hired me. I was responsible for training German colleagues as part of a maintenance contract at Safran in Hamburg and for sharing suggestions from French customers of the Hamburg site. Once this assignment finished and Actemium Hamburg was self-sufficient, I took on new tasks elsewhere: Cegelec Defence Infrastructures & Networks in Toulouse where I have been working for two years, currently as a deputy business manager.
I am working on electromagnetic protections (Faraday cages) for the military. This company works on more or less long-term projects ranging from a few months to several years. Projects change regularly, so I know that I won't get bored, and I can keep learning more about science and technology. I hope I can stay in this company for as long as possible. The company's purpose is to be a key industrial player in this field for the French military procurement agency, the DGA. It's certainly an advantage because our positions are well-structured and protected so we can stay there and thrive."
LOOKING BACK IN HINDSIGHT, WHAT QUALITIES AND SKILLS FROM YOUR COURSE WERE YOU ABLE TO USE IN YOUR VARIOUS PROFESSIONAL ROLES?
"I would say mainly the management skills; we learn to adapt to each profile within our team.
Then, the ability to make do with computer tools: I coded automation for many of my tools. A curiosity for learning is something that we learned to cultivate at the School.
And of course, all the concepts and content of the common courses: electricity, hydraulics, pneumatics, etc. Without necessarily being an expert on a specific topic, I am able to understand all the issues that arise in our team meetings, for example, and I am able to grasp any stage of production."
WHY VINCI ENERGIES? WHAT ARE THEIR COMMITMENTS TO WOMEN'S JOB INSERTION?
"There is no gender distinction; everyone finds their place naturally. Our team's greatest strengths are dialogue, that errors are accepted, and we learn to say everything we need to advance our projects together in the best way we can. As for legitimacy, I think that is acquired over time, whether you are a man or a woman.
It has rarely been hard for me to have my choices accepted; everything depends on how you go about it. I like to learn about each of my team members' tasks; then I forget everything I know in order to stay humble and benefit from my colleagues' experience. I prefer the role of leader over a boss who imposes their decisions.
Furthermore, Vinci has a diversity and insertion policy. Through the HUB au féminin (OCCITANIE), they organise regular conferences and small workshops to help women get ahead in their careers.
Finally, I think balance is needed when working between men and women because we don't all have the same sensibilities or way of seeing things. We complement each other pretty easily when we confront our different points of view."
DO YOU TAKE PART IN CAMPAIGNS TO RAISE AWARENESS OF CAREERS IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AMONGST YOUNG WOMEN?
"Yes, every year I take part in the job shadowing campaign the School holds in Bordeaux. We work in pairs with another alumna to present our jobs and history to students.
Presentations usually take place in the morning, but I like to stay in the afternoon to continue discussions more deeply and individually with students who are interested. It's very rewarding to share our experience and perspectives as young graduates with them."
WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG GIRLS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN STUDYING ENGINEERING OR WHO MIGHT BE HESITATING?
"Being an engineer means having the freedom to choose how to solve a problem or meet a need. Today, I have the option of making choices, and I am free to organise myself as I like to meet the orders of my customers and my division. That's what I love about my job."