“Women have a full part to play in the experts community”
Agnes, 58, was the first woman to join the Safran Experts stream 20 years ago. Today, she’s a technical auditor at Safran Aircraft Engines and a Safran Fellow Expert in RAMS (reliability, availability, maintainability, safety).
“Doing the same thing twice isn’t in my nature,” says Agnes as she reflects on her career. She loves technology and after a PhD in nuclear physics started out at CNRS, France’s national scientific research agency. She then joined Safran, where she progressed quickly, first at Safran Aircraft Engines, working in design and later RAMS. “The function was quite new, and everything was still to be developed,” she remembers enthusiastically. Building on her experience, she moved to Safran Engineering Services to develop the RAMS function at one of its business units, where she stayed for 10 years. After this management role, she came back to Safran Aircraft Engines in 2016 as a technical auditor, still working in her specialty field.
“There to help you…”
In 1999, Agnes became a Senior Expert at a time when the Safran Experts stream was still in its infancy. Today she’s a Fellow Expert and has a clear vision of her role. Her primary task is to help the function achieve the highest standards, notably by identifying new methods to assist designers — models, statistics, probabilistic methods, etc. — and in turn ensure the validity of their projects. Being a Fellow Expert also means fostering innovation and training and coaching people as a way to capitalize and pass on her knowledge and experience. She’s involved in training new hires by coordinating and delivering various modules, as well as lecturing in RAMS at Safran University. “I’ve always loved helping others grow,” she says. “As a manager, I used to say to my engineering graduates: As soon as you’ve figured out how to do something, move on to the next challenge — and I’ll be there to help you.” Promoting Safran and defending its positions on the wider stage is another integral part of her role, which includes taking part in international work groups and publishing scientific papers.
Still too few female experts
Despite her years in the Experts stream, Agnes still ponders a question: Why aren’t there more female experts at Safran? “There aren’t many of us — yet women make up almost 30% of Safran’s headcount,” she notes. “It’s a disparity I can’t explain.” She hasn’t encountered any particular barriers in her own career, so she has another explanation: how women see themselves. “Do they realize the skills they can bring to the Group?” she asks. “Do they dare put those skills forward? Are there enough female role models they can identify with? Shouldn’t we be proactively encouraging them to recognize their skills and make them known?” According to Agnes, the culture is far more conducive today than when she started out. “More and more women are moving to high-level positions, and the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to two women — these are encouraging examples,” she says. “So, go for it. Women have a full part to play in the Safran experts community, and the Group needs your skills!”