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#LoveMySafranJob: Angélique, from hairdresser to grinder!

Human resources

Swapping a life in a hair salon for a role as a grinder in a helicopter engine factory: quite an unusual career path for Angélique Sauvageon, who works for Safran Helicopter Engines in Bordes, France. As she says herself, cutting is still involved, but with very different methods! Explanations from someone with a quest for learning.

Portrait of Angélique, grinder at Safran Helicopter Engines in Bordes

In the early part of her career, Angélique opted for a clear-cut career choice, hairdressing. CAP1 and professional diploma obtained, she started working in a salon in Nièvre, her home region. But her heart wasn't in it. "I couldn't see myself going to work every day without real desire to do it" she recalls. From then on, no way was she staying put and doing nothing. She joined a temp agency and started working in the automotive sector. Her new world of work? Anti-vibration parts, a rubber injection press and all-male production teams! "It was definitely a far cry from hairdressing but as the daughter of a garage owner I was accustomed and quickly felt at ease", she explains. She was sometimes teased "Oh look it's the hairdresser" but rarely paid attention because she liked her new work environment so much. After Angélique was trained in operating the machines, she checked that no scrap was left, removed surplus rubber before it set and above all, enjoyed the fact of making something with her hands. "I learned what it means to contribute to the creation of a finished product, something that is durable and which needs the work of a great many people to manufacture", she declares enthusiastically.

One driver: constantly learning

In 2010, Angélique and her husband moved to Le Mans where she learned to be a receptionist. After six years as a secretary, they moved again, this time to Bordes. Angélique imagined that she would swiftly find work in this type of role "but there weren't any jobs around sufficiently quickly, so I looked elsewhere. At the time, I saw plenty of job offers for turning machine operators and I was intrigued" she says. So intrigued that she contacted GRETA2, where she was able to attend a preparatory course to learn about industrial occupations. "I thought it was exceptional and said to myself that's what I wanted to do! "

Angélique then decided to get some training and in 2018 obtained the CQPM MOCM metal industry qualifying certificate to use CNC machines. With this solid training under her belt, she nonetheless wanted to go further and applied to Safran to do a professional baccalaureat as a machining technician via a work-study program. An intense phase to start with: 3 weeks in a workshop in Bordes and 1 week of training in Tarbes, around 40 km from her home. "It was unsettling at first because I was old enough that some classmates could have been my children! But I really liked this phase. You learn a lot about yourself, you're there to learn and we all have something to bring to others," she affirms. Angélique particularly felt this during the "companion" week at CFAI3 in Assat, where Safran technicians came to share their knowledge.

"I learned an enormous amount. Everyone had tips and hints to share and helped each other when we made mistakes, it was very enriching,"

In July 2020, Angélique achieved her professional baccalaureat but Covid was on the rampage and machine operators were not in high demand. No problem, Safran proposed that she do another qualification, the CQPM grinder and Angelique duly started another one-year work-study program.

Rigor and accuracy

After a short period as a temporary worker for Safran Helicopter Engines, Angélique earned a permanent contract as a grinder in December 2021. "My job is to ensure that the part is suitably round for precision machining later. To do so, you need to rectify diameters, surfaces, rework center points, and more." Angélique uses conventional control machine tools that she learned to operate in her training. So she is responsible for machine settings and "tickles the microns". "The work requires great precision and I am fully aware that each part is important for the whole to work correctly. If a helicopter has a failure, it's not going to land on a cloud to wait for the breakdown vehicle! "For Angélique, each day is different as she can be assigned to the start or end of the line, to work on simple sprockets or more complicated parts. "We don't see the same series all day long and over a year, we don't even see all the possible types of sprocket," she explains. Even if the pace of the 3x8 shift pattern is demanding, Angélique sees herself staying in this job for a while.

"There is a great atmosphere at work of course, but I really like the possibility of always learning something from someone else. I wouldn't cope with taking things for granted and it is important to know that we have the support of others to improve ourselves"

A mindset that builds team togetherness, for sure!



1 Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle - Certificate of Professional Capacity

2 National Education structure that organizes adult training in most occupations.

3 Centre de Formation d’Apprentis de l’industrie - Apprentice Training Center for Industry