Claire Franson, head of a characterization laboratory
Claire Franson began her career with Safran as a chemical engineering apprentice 20 years ago. Today, she heads a team of around twenty engineers at Safran Composites, Safran Tech’s research platform for Organic Matrix Composites (OMC). She talked to us about her unusual career path within the Group.
Can you tell us a little more about your career path?
CF: I’m celebrating 20 years with Safran this year. I started off as a chemical engineering apprentice before being recruited as research engineer in the chemistry laboratory at Le Bouchet research center (CRB)*.
While continuing to work as a chemical materials characterization specialist, I was also made laboratory manager in 2004. I carried on doing both jobs for a few years before taking over as head of the CRB characterization laboratories in 2014.
From 2011 to 2012, I was in charge of the competency group conducting physical-chemical analyses within the Materials and Processes (M&P) department.
The following year, I had the opportunity to help set up the characterization laboratory for the Materials and Processes (M&P) department. This was part of Safran’s plans to pool its research activities at what is now known as Safran Tech. In 2014, I joined Safran Tech at the Safran Paris-Saclay site. I was actively involved in plans for the M&P unit’s investigation laboratory right from the preliminary stages (investments, equipment acquisition and recruitment) and I was appointed manager when the laboratory opened.
In 2017, I successfully applied for the job as manager of the Materials and Processes unit at Safran Composites.
However, I wasn’t able to take up my new job as planned. Owing to health problems, I had to put my career on hold for several months.
I officially took up my new managerial position on a part-time basis in August 2018.
Can you tell us more about your job? What does it involve?
CF: I manage a team of around twenty engineers and senior technicians while also working with experts from the Safran Tech platform and other Group companies.
Within Safran Composites, I oversee three characterization laboratories. I work with a team of technicians who are responsible for the running of our facilities:
- Mechanical tests,
- Physical-chemical analyses,
- Morphological observation.
I also coordinate the network of physical-chemical analysis laboratories for Safran’s corporate Materials and Processes department.
Which skills and qualities would you say are required to do your job?
CF: As a manager, you need to be exacting in your approach while also listening to others. You must know how to set priorities and be well organized so you don’t spread yourself too thinly. I currently work part-time so I’m only in the lab three days a week. This makes it even more important to communicate and to be meticulous in everything I do. You also need to know how to delegate so that your team can work independently.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
CF: The day-to-day challenge, particularly the technical aspects. Also, the interaction with my team and the network of laboratories.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
CF: My objectives today are very much focused on my personal and professional development. I’d like to pursue my physical rehabilitation through sport.
It appears you’re also an active sportswoman?
CF: I’ve always enjoyed sports so it was essential for me to find a sport adapted to my disability but that would also be part of my recovery. In September 2018, I became a competitive para-rower in the arm/shoulder category with a club in Corbeil-Essonnes (Paris region). This year, I’ve taken part in all the national competitions (indoor and outdoor). I also attend a special training program three or four times a week to strengthen my upper body and help me become more independent.
- Bronze medal over 2,000m
- French vice-champion over 2,000m
- French champion over 500m
*CRB: Le Bouchet research center (currently part of ArianeGroup.)
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