Education: Ecole Normale Superieure; Doctor of Neuro-pharmacology, Universite Pierre et Marie Curie -- College de France; MBA, College des Ingenieurs
Family: Husband, Fabrice Rappaport; daughter, 12
I didnít actually go looking for a job in the automotive sector. I went looking for a job with PSA, which is a very large French company, and whose values -- sharing, working in a team environment, being results-oriented -- are similar to my own.
[PSA CEO] Christian Streiff asked me to come in for an interview. The post that was proposed -- vice president of strategy and innovation -- was an excellent opportunity. And this seemed to be the synthesis of my past experiences, because I started as a researcher, and had previously worked with the automotive sector.
There were really three big reasons I came to PSA: its values, my previous working relationship with the CEO, and the position offered.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
My working methods are very teamwork-oriented, so I am proud to have put in place a strong team in such a short period of time, just five months.
What is your proudest personal achievement?
Iím proud to have done academic training, to have done five years of high-level research, and to be today at PSA as chief finance officer. I am proud of this career trajectory.
In France it is fairly atypical, even rare, to come from a scientific background and go into industry.
What is your current challenge at work?
As CFO, the key challenge is to accompany and assist the president and the PSA management team, to help them identify and implement the best strategies.
At the moment, I am piloting the Russian expansion project, the construction of a new manufacturing site in Kaluga. It is a very complex project, because it includes industrial and financial issues, deciding the best product line and relations with Russian institutions.
While doing that, I have to find ways to make time to work with my financial team. For each one of my team members, I have to find time to coach them, to work with them, and that is also a real challenge.What about the auto industry surprised you?
Compared with the businesses I have previously worked in, the competition is very strong. The markets are more and more with their backs to the wall, with low growth, and more and more brands, the competition is intense. Thatís also what makes it so interesting and so passionate. There is a lot to be done, and you have to fight for it.
What are the biggest obstacles facing women in the auto industry?
I donít really see any obstacles for women in the auto industry. I am 40 years old, and I donít think that women in my generation have seen a lot of obstacles. But you probably have to demonstrate your skills and competence more than a man in a similar position.
A woman, in general, has to do a bit more to have the same type of job. And regardless of gender, you have to have the confidence of your superiors. In my case, I was lucky enough to have the confidence of Christian Streiff. Man or woman, you need support if you are going to hold a position of high responsibility. Confidence has to be established.
What traits does a woman entering the industry need?
A young woman entering the automotive industry today has to have a high level of energy. The automotive industry is physical. You really have to have a lot of energy, both inside the company and on the outside. You have to like getting into the trenches, because when youíre outside the company, you have to fight with the competitors, and you have to be capable of handling the battle of wills.
Have you seen sexism in the workplace?
Itís not sexism or verbal affronts. Itís more a sort of behavior, among men, to speak simply, and to put it all on the table, in a way that a woman canít.
Itís a very masculine, almost physical way of presenting things or imposing oneís will that a woman canít match.
When faced with this sort of virile or macho behavior, women have to stay rational, to take a technical approach, and maybe add a bit of humor, which always helps.