Stephanie Larroque: “Understanding the technical issues and the problems faced by the teams, that's where my legitimacy comes from”
A specialist in mechanical design, Stéphanie Larroque has always worked in the world of design engineering offices. Currently working at Safran Engineering Services in Marignane, she has gradually seen the scope of her work expand. She talks to us about her career path, her approach to her role as a manager and how she goes about taking on new responsibilities.
After graduating from the MATMECA engineering school in Bordeaux with an engineering degree (mathematical and mechanical modeling) and completing two internships in fluid calculation and life-cycle optimization of aircraft structure repairs, Stephanie began her career as a research engineer in IT services. She was involved in the development of scientific computing tools for Airbus Commercial in Toulouse, then carried out dynamic calculations for Airbus Defense & Space in the Paris region and Safran Aircraft Engines in Villaroche.
“I wanted to make a change, both in terms of what I was doing and in terms of the region, and with my husband, we decided to go back to the south. I was offered the opportunity to work at Safran Engineering Services and we headed to Aix-en-Provence,” she says. In 2011, she thus became a structural design engineer for Airbus Helicopters near Marseilles. Two years later, she had become project manager for this area of activity, heading a team of six engineers.
In 2015, she became head of the mechanical engineering department and took over the design engineering office, which consisted of about thirty people. “My new duties went well as far as the mechanical calculation side was concerned since I had the required technical expertise. The real challenge was supervising the design part because the teams and skills were different from the ones I used to oversee," she says. Thanks to the efforts of highly skilled and committed colleagues, the support of her superiors and the training courses on hands-on management provided by Safran, she came through successfully. In 2018, she broadened her scope and took over as the Head of the Airframe and Integration Department, thus adding the management of production engineering activities to her areas of expertise. “This is a technical field even further away from my design engineering training because it is more closely linked to production and machinery.”
She was thus stepping out of her comfort zone but she sees this as an interesting and challenging development in her career, allowing her to learn more and diversify. “At the beginning, there were two of us working on production engineering projects and in the space of a year we have grown to 12. I was very involved and I learned a lot in order to achieve the technical legitimacy necessary to manage a team as effectively as possible. I also got a broader view of what our customer, Airbus Helicopters, is doing.
She is in constant, daily contact with Airbus Helicopters in order to ensure that they are satisfied with the contracts currently underway and to pursue growth opportunities. She is involved in technical and commercial proposals, the recruitment of the most suitable individuals for the positions to be filled at Safran Engineering Services and in their development. She is responsible for assuring the quality of the work of her teams and for meeting delivery deadlines. At the Vitrolles site, Stéphanie also takes care of all matters related to research and innovation: “In fact, we are currently in the process of setting up a laboratory in our facility,” she says. But what she enjoys most about her job is performance management, staying on track with regard to financial results. “And managing my teams, of course. I try to be responsive, to work closely with the teams, to understand the technical issues and their problems, because that's where my legitimacy comes from.