#LoveMySafranJob:"Intrapreneurship is an extraordinary adventure"
After 17 years in aeronautics, Céline Colonna-Ceccaldi went into intrapreneurship by participating in Safran's "We love intrapreneurs" program. At 41, she is thriving in her new project...while also reflecting on the rest of her career!
How did you come to Safran?
I studied general engineering at the Université de Technologie de Compiègne, with a specialty in mechanics and materials. Having always been passionate about aeronautics, I naturally gravitated toward this sector and joined Zodiac Aerospace as project manager. I then joined Safran Landing Systems three years later as chief engineer. For 10 years, I managed development projects for helicopter braking systems and aircraft wheels and brakes, as well as support projects for in-service equipment and flight tests. I then created and managed a team of Research & Technology project managers.
What do you like about Safran?
The Group has given me autonomy, freedom and trust, which has allowed me to take the initiative and chart my own course. That has been the common thread throughout my career. The other motivating factor was the challenge: I've often been asked to take on challenges, by revitalizing projects or teams. I've been part of some significant achievements, including testing a new carbon brake for aircraft, certifying 737 MAX wheels and brakes, and providing flight test support for the H160 helicopter. My career at Safran has allowed me to feel needed by sharing my experience, and to constantly learn in order to become even more efficient and effective.
You left your last position to become an intrapreneur. How did that go?
When the Safran intrapreneurship program was launched in 2019, I was asked to join a project team that had qualified for the final phase. This was the Run[waiz] project, an innovative software solution that can provide runway grip conditions to airports and airlines in order to secure and optimize airport operations. Curious and eager to branch out, I participated in an intrapreneur training program organized with EM Lyon Business School, alongside my position at the time. Since our project was one of two winners selected to continue development in the Group's internal accelerator, I left my position to join the incubator and put everything I had into it.
What is your role in the project?
Within the Run[waiz] team, my short-term goal is to land our first airport customer and a partner airline to carry out a full-size demonstration. Although my education and experience are in engineering, I've now turned to marketing and business development, while filling the role of project coordinator.
What do you get out of intrapreneurship?
It's a group effort and an extraordinary adventure! The path is often strewn with pitfalls and challenges that lead you to take a step back and give things a second look. That really motivates and appeals to me. I also like the challenge of regularly convincing our internal investors to continue with our project. These deadlines encourage me to stretch myself. Generally speaking, intrapreneurship for me is a way to innovate, improve and take action. It allows me to get out of my comfort zone and expand my areas of expertise. It's very rewarding! Lastly, I am proud to have been one of three women nominated for the Les Margaret Award* in March 2021, in the Intrapreneure Europe category.
Where do you see your career in the future?
In the very short term, I'd like to see the Run[waiz] project make its first sale. Then I'd like to get involved in Safran's transition to a more sustainable world (which has already begun). The aeronautics sector is going through an unprecedented crisis and is at a turning point. I'm really committed to help build the Group's future. I'm also eager to pass on my experience, my knowledge and my skills by managing a team.
You are very active outside of your job. What do you get out of this work? Do you see a link between your job and the causes you work for?
I volunteer with the Ligue contre le cancer (League against Cancer) as a "counselor" for sick patients. It is a cause that is close to my heart. This work has been on standby since Covid, so on my own time I've been working on the ecological transition, which is another subject that I'm passionate about and involved in. Along with a team of 5 people, we're in the process of creating an environmental third-place and recycling center in my region. My experience as an intrapreneur helps me a lot with winning over local elected officials, finding funding and developing the project's business plan.
What drives you to work on so many projects simultaneously?
I think it's in my nature! My colleagues describe me as an energetic, committed woman who likes challenges and takes the initiative. And it's true that the people I find the most inspiring are the hard-working, persevering, and generous people who give the best of themselves and are committed to others. That is what motivates me on a daily basis, both in my professional and personal life.
* An award recognizing innovative women in the digital field.
Since November 2019: intrapreneur, co-founder of the Run[waiz] project
2019: Intrapreneur training program at EM Lyon Business School
2018-2019: R&T project lead manager – Safran Landing Systems
2007-2017: chief engineer – Safran Landing Systems
2004-2007: aeronautics project manager – Zodiac Aerospace
2004: degree in mechanical engineering from the Université de Technologie de Compiègne, specializing in materials and technological innovations