#LoveMySafranJob: “Being a systems architect is a bit like making one plus one equal three!”
Audrey joined Safran Electronics & Defense straight after her engineering degree. Now 37, she’s a systems architect at the Optronic Systems Center of Excellence. Highly invested in her job, Audrey also devotes a lot of time to initiatives aimed at strengthening Safran’s innovation capabilities and its appeal to job seekers. Read on to learn why she loves her job.
Tell us about your career so far.
I’ve always been interested in technology. I earned my degree at Supélec engineering school and took an option in automated systems. I did my final year internship at Safran Electronics & Defense, who then hired me as an automation engineer. Very quickly, I specialized in systems architecture.
What does your job involve?
I help design and develop complex airborne optronic systems, like onboard cameras for helicopters. I’m involved in the very early project stages, identifying the best solutions to integrate the various systems (mechanical, optical, software, electronic, etc.), and bearing in mind all cost and delivery commitments. It’s this cross-functional aspect of systems architecture that appeals to me so much. It’s a bit like making one plus one equal three! Plus, it’s a strategic skill for Safran, because if we don’t make the right technical choices from the start, that would impact the entire product lifecycle.
How did you move into this field?
When I was a student, systems engineering wasn’t on the program. I learned about it on the job at Safran Electronics & Defense. Five years ago, I had the opportunity to take a one-year degree training course with Safran University. As well as formal recognition of my newly earned skills, the program allowed me to acquire the methods for interacting effectively with the different departments across the Group on the many aspects of systems architecture.
You’re also a trainer and coach in systems engineering at your company. Can you tell us what this role involves?
A year after my training, I helped develop a condensed version of the degree program (lasting a few days), which I now deliver two or three times a year. I also coach an employee who’s taking a course at Safran University to support his dissertation. I got involved in these initiatives because I’m a strong believer in method-based learning. I think it’s important to build a core knowledge base and organization-wide methods that everyone can refer to. This greatly facilitates the large number of transfers that take place between departments and companies across the Group.
Why do think it’s important to transfer knowledge?
I’ve always enjoyed sharing my knowledge. It was something I did even before becoming a systems architect. I like the interaction involved and seeing people grow. It really is a rewarding experience.
Can you tell us about the other initiatives you’re involved in at your company and at Group level?
I’m a Safran ambassador at my former engineering school, which involves presenting the Group, its products, jobs and career opportunities to students. Because systems engineers are still in short supply, it’s important that Safran maintain active ties with engineering students who’ll soon enter the jobs market. I’m also a Safran e-ambassador, meaning that I promote our business activities on professional social media networks. In addition, I’m a mentor for two specialized courses at CentraleSupélec engineering school – Automation and Systems. As part of this commitment, I organize events like site tours and meet-ups with other Safran ambassadors. At Safran Electronics & Defense, I took part in two in-house innovation challenges aimed at fostering new ideas, new products and new markets. And I also help organize the Black Out Challenge, another innovation initiative but this time aimed at students. I love the emulation created by these events.
How do you see your career evolving?
I recently took on a new role in optronic systems. There’s plenty of new ground to cover, so I can see me staying for a few years. Then, perhaps I’ll have the opportunity to move to a different Safran company. Looking further ahead, I’m also eager to take up a management position. I’ve already earned recognition for my ability to engage others in seeking optimal solutions, so management would be an obvious next step in my career.
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