Tell us about your background. Why did you choose Vallourec?
Actually, it was Vallourec that chose me!
I studied physics and applied sciences at the University of Lille, specializing in materials science and physico-chemistry. After finishing my degree, I chose to start looking for work instead of continuing my studies. I found a fixed-term research and development (R&D) position at Danone, located in Palaiseau, where I carried out chemical tests to determine how fat breaks down on LU finished products - an activity which the group has since sold to another company.
I wasn't too keen on life in the Paris area, so I returned to Lille, in the North. There, I worked for a year in R&D for a subsidiary of Arcelor, measuring fluid flows on stainless steel surfaces. Then I decided to look for work again and started at Vallourec in 2007.
What does your work involve?
I am currently a QOP (Quotation and Order Process) Improvement Manager at the Vallourec Services Center in Vallourec... which deserves further explanation!
Along the way I joined the HOOE project (Harmonized Order and Offer Entry). Previously, orders were entered into different systems in France and Germany, with each factory individually analyzing the relevant standards and specifications. Now, thanks to the HOOE project, all this analysis and interpretation work has been centralized.
The team of 'rules managers' provides the sales departments with a product configurator (like that used to customize a product online before purchase). This web tool allows them to send offers and orders of products directly to factories, outlining all the operations to carry out. It's my job to ensure that these entries are standardized.
The team is part French, part German, with one group in Valenciennes and the other in Düsseldorf. Each of my colleagues is in charge of managing a group of specific products, whereas I provide support – except when I replace them in cases of absence. I'm also responsible for the continuous improvement of the system, meaning I try to make it more user-friendly and easier for the sales departments to maintain.
What do you like most about your job?
Vallourec is an international company, so we have colleagues in multiple regions.
I have a lot of contact with the sales departments in particular, but also with factories and the IT specialists, who are indispensable when it comes to improving and developing the system in line with new market expectations. My support role gives me multiple opportunities to interact with my colleagues!
Finally, I am fortunate to have a job that really makes use of my degree. I enjoy working at Vallourec – I don't think I'd rather work anywhere else!
What are the main challenges in your job?
The challenges are similar to those often found in maintenance: when things are going well, no one notices, but when something goes wrong it's all you can see! It can be difficult to value your work, but it requires huge amounts of discipline and dedication, and above all, responsiveness. This is key to ensuring that orders are quickly received, processed, and approved by the factory.
Finally, different cultures require different approaches, so we have to adapt to our counterparts and of course we also need to speak English, which Vallourec has helped me with greatly.
Who are you outside of work?
I really like playing sport, especially badminton and running.
I have two children, a son and a daughter. My son was born three months premature, and he still has a motor impairment. I devote a huge amount of my time to him. He has an incredible strength of character, and he's my main source of inspiration: I aspire to be as strong and determined as him.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
In the early days of my career, I was advised never to let others walk over me. That's what you tend to do when you're 25 and you've just been hired, especially when you're very shy like me. But you should never hesitate to assert yourself!