Emmanuelle Jacobson: “thinking outside the box, my greatest strength”
Emmanuelle Jacobson has a unique career path. For many years, she was immersed in the worlds of IT and literature, but today she is Quality and Continuous Improvement Manager at Safran Engineering Services. She is one of the three women on the French Executive Committee. She tells us how she got there and how she has flourished in her profession while taking on greater responsibility.
From linguistics expert to Black Belt.
Emmanuelle Jacobson has not had what might be called a straightforward career path. For a long time, she was torn between science, computer science, art and literature. A student at the conservatory of music, with a science-focused high-school diploma (baccalauréat) and a degree in medieval linguistics, she also spent six years studying the human sciences. She went on to gain a wealth of professional experience, working as a proofreader, copy editor, data entry clerk and freelancer. Just before her 26th birthday, she decided to move into her other favorite field. A fan of video games and geek culture, she earned an advanced diploma in business computing thanks to a Fongecif training grant. “During the course, I became pregnant. The doors I thought were open quickly closed.”
For two years, she worked as a preschool assistant. Two years later, she decided to resubmit her CV and she landed a position at the help desk in an aeronautical service company. “I went beyond what was asked of me: I identified inconsistencies in the resolution processes.” She quickly became a project manager and ended up leading a team of seventy people: “I had responsibility but still the same salary as a technician, even when I became a project manager on an organizational management consulting assignment.” She then left the company. She quickly found a three-month position as a PMO with the potential of being hired at the end. In 2011, she joined Safran Engineering Services as a manager. She joined the Quality and Continuous Improvement department and became its head at the Toulouse site. In January 2017, she was appointed Head of Customer Satisfaction and Audits for the whole of France. At the same time, she successfully completed a Green Belt project for which she was certified in 2018 and then a Black Belt project that ended in early 2019.
An atypical profile, and all the stronger for it
“Don't think that achieving these two certifications has been easy. I don't think the same way as my colleagues do. I don't have the engineering background that allows me to apply the approach that seems obvious to them. But with the steadfast support of my mentor, I never allowed myself to give up,” she says.
Since December, Emmanuelle has been Head of Quality and Continuous Improvement and is a member of the French Executive Committee. “At Safran Engineering Services, I embarked on a genuine career path that has enabled me to develop professionally and to be recognized for it.” To what does she owe her success? “Looking back, I think that my experience and my way of thinking are assets that make me stand out. Having been a proofreader allows me to detect inconsistencies; music has taught me how to apply rules. By emphasizing the meaningfulness of these rules, which by definition are non-negotiable, I can do a better job of getting them adopted on the ground. I also try to listen to employees, to understand their challenges in order to better assist them in their efforts to improve.”
Her feminine side? “Perhaps my approach has to do with being a woman. I don't know. Working in a man's world was a disadvantage for me for a long time. I have now decided to turn it into an asset. As a result, people pay more attention to me. But I think that my career development at Safran is first and foremost due to my skills and the people who have helped me to develop them.”