“It’s by sharing their knowledge that experts create value”
Surface treatment, heat treatment, non-destructive testing, electrical discharge machining (EDM) – after 35 years at Safran, there isn’t much that Véronique Marcel doesn’t know about special processes! Currently head of the Materials and Special Processes Quality Assurance department at Safran Landing Systems, Véronique is also a Safran Fellow Expert.
Some passions begin early in life! After earning a degree in materials science and engineering, Véronique Marcel opted to specialize in special processes for aerospace applications. “Unlike most manufacturing processes, special processes enhance materials or give them specific properties, like friction and corrosion resistance” she explains. “However, inspections must be carried out during each different stage of the process, as performing them once the part is complete could damage it. This is what makes special processes so complex.”
A VERY RICH CAREER
Véronique began her career at Safran Landing Systems in 1987 as a research engineer, later taking charge of production engineering for a surface treatment process. “I was then given the opportunity to set up the Materials and Special Processes Quality Assurance department, which today has a team of around 50 people” she says.
Véronique joined the Safran Expert community(1) in 2009. “I hadn’t planned to become part of the expert stream, which was still in its early days” she notes. “But a discussion with the Quality manager at the time made me realize I’d acquired rare knowledge of the field, which could be useful across the Group.” Today, Véronique is a Safran Fellow Expert in special processes, surface treatment, and manufacturing and assembly engineering. “Being recognized as an expert is acknowledgement of not only advanced technical know-how but also a profound overall understanding of a given topic, which you can only acquire through a rich and varied career” remarks Véronique.
SHARING AND BUILDING ON KNOWLEDGE
In her capacity as a Fellow Expert, Véronique is currently involved in two major projects. The first focuses on replacing certain special processes to bring the company in line with Europe’s REACH(2) regulations, and the second on reducing the risks involved in surface treatment.
Knowledge and skills transfer is another key aspect of her work. “This is where an expert’s true added value comes in” she emphasizes. “These tasks include supervising interns, apprentices and new hires at Safran Landing Systems, as well as training auditors from across the Group. And I’ve also developed a MOOC on special processes. In addition, I sit on various external bodies, where I help to strengthen Safran’s influence and reputation. Last but not least, because even experts are expected to hone their expertise, Véronique regularly engages with peers across the Group and meets with staff at other Safran company sites as well as with suppliers. “I love nothing more than being in contact with people, processes, materials and equipment — being open to improvements and change is also part of our role as experts!”
AN ADVENTURE WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED
As an experienced manager, Véronique helps her co-workers strengthen their skills, and even encourages some of them to take the plunge and become experts themselves. “At Safran, we’re fortunate to have an expert stream that’s well organized and recognized. Anyone passionate about the technical side of their job should seriously consider joining it. This involves thinking carefully about where they want their career to go, and steering it in the right direction by building their internal and external networks. There are some great career opportunities to be taken up, especially for women, who tend to limit their aspirations. Being part of the expert stream is an exciting adventure waiting to be discovered. And of course I’m always willing to offer guidance to budding young experts!”
(1) The Safran Expert Stream was created in 2005 to round out the initiatives pursued by individual companies. There are two levels of expertise: Senior Expert and Fellow Expert.
(2) REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals): an EU Directive introduced in 2007 to reduce the use of, and the risk of, chemicals which are proven to be a hazard to human health and the environment.