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French National Reserve Days: “Serving in the Reserve is a school of life..."

Human resources

This year’s French National Reserve Days run from October 10 to November 12. The theme is “Proud to be reservists – Proud of our reservists”. The event pays tribute to the men and women who volunteer their own time for the nation’s defense and security. We spoke to Jean-Charles, a reservist at Safran Aircraft Engines.

After completing his military service with the French army, Jean-Charles joined Safran in 1987 but also stayed on with the Army as a reservist. “It’s first and foremost a commitment — a desire to serve and help keep France safe,” he explains. “We all share the core values of honor, courage and loyalty. You also benefit from comprehensive training as well as specific training for military missions, from live firing to first aid. It’s a real school of life!”

For the last decade, Jean-Charles has worked in Tool Sales Support for previous-generation engines. He’s also Reservist Correspondent for the company. “I oversee all the reservists at Safran Aircraft Engines and coordinate the defense community, which means supporting our reservists on a daily basis, answering any questions they may have and providing information for other colleagues interested in this kind of commitment.”

As a Captain in the French Army Reserve, Jean-Charles is assigned to a regiment. In 2020, he has already completed over 30 days of military service for a recruitment unit. “I also lead missions in the field. At 56, I still find myself sleeping in a ditch with other troops!”

The reservists play a key role in sharing skills between industry and the military. “In the army, I learned how to work more cross-functionally, before I experienced this at Safran. I had to provide operational feedback in the army, and now do the same thing at Safran. As civilians, we offer a different perspective, for instance by sharing our expertise in practices like lean management, which is of huge interest to the military. This synergy between the civilian and defense worlds is a source of enrichment and a win-win way of supporting each other and sharing what we know.”

The French National Guard has over 77,000 operational reservists, one-sixth women. They volunteer to serve for a period of one to five years, which can be extended. Some 41,000 reservists currently provide support for all armed forces missions in France and abroad. Safran’s workforce counts over 100 reservists. Depending on their skills and the needs of the armed forces, these reservists are assigned to a specific area of responsibility, having signed a commitment to serve in the operational reserve.