My career path
"Today, I manage a 100-strong team that works to ensure the LHC’s operations are safe and executed on time."
I’m an engineer and head of the Accelerator Coordination & Engineering Group at CERN. Our team is responsible for coordinating the whole accelerator complex’s technical stops, including 3D integration, layout management, scheduling, safety coordination and on-site coordination. We’re also in charge of developing and providing technical support, such as maintenance, documentation and planning, for the various tools used.
I’m driven by the fascinating challenges we take on every day and my interactions with people. Our work is at the core of all other operations at CERN, and I find it really motivating to be working towards a common goal and achieving something together.
My career path. I hold the position I have now most certainly because of the quality of my work during the process of installing the large hadron collider (LHC) and in the years that followed. The LHC, which was first started up in 2008, is the world’s largest and most powerful particle accelerator, with a 27-kilometre ring. When I was in charge of planning operations, I climbed the ranks little by little and learnt the jobs of the people I was responsible for. Today, I manage a 100-strong team that works to ensure the LHC’s operations are safe and executed on time.
But I’ve also had the support of wonderful supervisors, as well as people who challenge me and some very efficient colleagues. My team are there to support me every day, proving that it’s important to surround yourself with the right people.
I’ve always been able to count on the unfailing support of my husband and the rest of my family. It’s probably even the most important help I’ve had in my career because, thanks to them, I know I can concentrate on my work without any worries.
A downside or obstacle ? Time ! Perhaps I’m too much of a perfectionist, but unfortunately 24-hour days are just too short. I’ve never encountered any obstacles simply for being a woman, apart from some chauvinistic remarks to which I usually respond : “Replace ‛woman’ with ‛black’. Don’t you think that sounds racist ?” That works rather well. Actually, I’ve always thought of myself more as an engineer than as a woman in my career. I’ve proven my worth from the very beginning, so my gender is secondary.
I’m proud that I was involved in the installation of the LHC. For about ten years, I was in charge of organizing all the various operations. I had the technical knowledge to understand everyone involved in the process (cryogenicists, physicists, civil engineers, etc.) and the communication skills to circulate the information in a way that worked and to resolve issues between people. That experience has stayed with me ever since. Even though I’ve developed my network and know more people, that will always be the first major project I accomplished at CERN.