Céline Michad: “There's always a challenge to be met, no matter what capacity I may be in”
Coming from a purely scientific background, Céline Michad went from fluid mechanics to project management, from the automobile sector to aeronautics, from Paris to Toulouse, and from the technical world to team management. This is the story of a woman who faced several challenges and dealt with them one by one, step by step.
Fluid Mechanical Engineering
After pursuing a science-focused high school diploma, a French preparatory school and a college program at the ENSEEIHT* in fluid mechanics, Céline Michad entered the world of industry. “I did my second-year internship at Zodiac where I carried out a comparative study on software used for water pump sizing. My final-year internship at the Institut de Mécanique des fluides (Institute of Fluid Mechanics) in Toulouse was more research based. I assisted a doctoral student on a thesis applied to that industry. I then decided not to head into research but to find a job in that field,” she explains.
In August 2004, she was recruited by Teuchos, which later became Safran Engineering Services in Paris. She worked as an engineer specializing in fluid mechanics and carried out studies on engine cooling for a client in the automobile sector. “I responded to a job offer that matched my qualifications. I found the assignment quite interesting: developing 1D water pump design software,” she continues. Once she finished with the software, she continued her studies in engine cooling, then studied exhaust lines.
From Automobiles to Aeronautics
In 2008, the automobile sector was in crisis. Opportunities for mobility were created, which Céline used to return to Toulouse. “I returned to Teuchos as a weight calculation engineer in a team that worked for Airbus. Our job was to carry out specific weight calculations on aircraft parts during varying stages of flight.” In 2012, she took over the technical aspects of these calculations and became the head of a five-person team. “In addition to leading meetings with clients, I also managed the workload, distributed studies to the team, and carried out individual interviews with employees. This was my first experience as a manager.”
In 2014, she wanted a change of scenery, but wanted to continue managing a team. She became a project manager and worked on technical information about flight operations for Airbus, for airline company support.
From Engineer to Project Manager
Céline participated in several training programs to become a project manager, such as Proximity Management, courses in Project Management, individual interviews, etc. “My roles were equally distributed between managing the team and the technical activities linked to studying aircraft performance,” she explains. Over time, her responsibilities expanded to include all flight operation activities on Airbus’ civil aircraft. The team now had around 15 people. “At the time, I worked full time on my management tasks. Since then, the team and the range of responsibilities have not stopped growing. Today, there are 25 of us in France and Spain.”
What are her responsibilities? Managing the team, but also keeping track of performance, maintaining client relations, quality assurance, tracking subcontractors, managing costs and resources, billing and participating in responding to calls for tenders. “I am equally responsible for the operational and technical areas as I am for the human aspect.” Over time, she has built a solid career. For her, being a woman is neither an asset nor a hindrance, even though she does realize that not many women have operational roles in aeronautics. She likes the variety of tasks and interacting with different people. “I’m here to help the teams do their job as best as they can. I’m here to support them every day. It’s a very practical job. As for clients, I have to constantly adapt to their needs. There's always a challenge to be met, no matter what capacity I may be in. My project will soon be subject to a period of contract renewal. That’ll be my next big challenge! ”
*École nationale supérieure d'électrotechnique, d'électronique, d'informatique, d'hydraulique et des télécommunications (French engineering school in Electrical Engineering, Electronics, Computer Science, Hydraulics and Telecommunications).