: 4 min
Safran values its young experts
In her final year at engineering school, Stéphanie discovered the art and science of material bonding. After completing a PhD in this field, she was recruited by Snecma Propulsion Solide* as a research engineer in surface preparation and material bonding. She then joined Safran Electronics & Defense, where she currently heads the Materials and Processes development unit. Since 2017, she has been a Group Senior Expert, Bonding Processes.
Nicolas has been passionate about fuels since graduating from chemical engineering school. At IFP Énergies Nouvelles, a research organization where he worked for 15 years, he helped launch E85 superethanol, an automotive fuel blend of 85% bioethanol. He joined Safran in 2014 to focus on the development of alternative fuels for aviation. He's currently in charge of the Low Carbon Fuels project at Safran Innovation and is also a Group Senior Expert, Fuels.
A carefully considered choice
Their decision to join the Experts stream wasn't a matter of chance, but the result of careful consideration. "I've always been excited about technology," says Stéphanie. "When Safran started promoting the Experts stream, I realized my work was exactly what they were talking about. With my manager's support, I applied to become a Company Expert, then a few years later I was made a Senior Expert. Today, I'm proud to see my work and commitment recognized and to have a profile with other Safran companies, so I can offer my knowledge and contribute to the Group's success."
The same keen desire to pass on his knowledge is what guided Nicolas: "Being an Expert means being committed to constantly deepening your knowledge, but also, more importantly, passing it on. This is especially true in fuels, which isn't a Safran core competency, but it's one of the key challenges for the future of aviation. As a Senior Expert, I analyze the major technological advances, answer questions from colleagues and, if necessary, refer them to the relevant specialists in the companies. It's a coordinating role, which is incredibly rewarding!"
When Stéphanie and Nicolas were appointed as Senior Experts, they attended a course at Safran University, the Group's in-house training organization. "It was a chance to learn more about Safran, which I had only just joined at the time, and to meet and talk with other experts," says Nicolas. Stéphanie says it taught her to build more structure into certain practices and know herself better. They've both completed other Safran University courses — in the area of personal development for Nicolas and mentoring for Stéphanie — who'll soon be helping a young Company Expert on the path to becoming a Group Expert. Like Nicolas, she also passes on her knowledge by contributing to in-house training programs and lecturing at several academic institutions.
Staying at the forefront of knowledge
Maintaining a high level of expertise is part of the mandate for the Group's Senior Experts. "By engaging with others we further our own expertise," says Nicolas, who leads several in-house work groups on issues around low-carbon fuels and takes part in forums at bodies like the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Energy Agency and the European Union. "I also read a lot of scientific papers and I'm always keen to know what our competitors, partners and customers are saying." For Stephanie, the capacity for lifelong learning is an integral part of the expert's role: "I read papers published by research laboratories and take part in symposiums. I learn a lot from the expert appraisals I conduct internally, because they often address Group-level issues that are broader than my company's scope of activity. I also find it very enriching to share experience within the Bonding network, which I lead." Through these interactions, the two young experts are contributing to Safran's external influence and helping promote its interests.
Experts stream, forging ahead
Because they became Senior Experts relatively early in their careers, Stéphanie and Nicolas don't see it as the culmination of a journey, but as a springboard. "Thanks to the profile it provides, the Experts stream is a real opportunity for Safran's younger people wanting to specialize in an area of technology without closing the door to a move to other functions," says Nicolas. "Do I have what it takes to become a Fellow Expert?" asks Stéphanie. "Time will tell. For now, I still have a lot to learn and I'm far from completing my role as a Senior Expert!"
*Space propulsion business, now part of ArianeGroup.