How did you choose your area of specialisation?
Straight out of my master as a geology engineer (geology engineering is a masters available in France), I faced a tough reality: What does a geologist do in a corporate environment and how different is this from academic geology?
The mining world is huge! From the big mines sites all around the world to the cosmetic applications in labs and the modelling technologies in offices, there are a broad variety of geological roles. Exposure to this range is somewhat limited, as internships only give a very narrow preview of the spectrum. In France where I studied, mine sites are not great recruiters – there are few actual mines and quarries do not require many geologists. Therefore, this option is not the first choice when deciding which path to take for your career.
I have always been passionate about geology; this is why I chose to become an engineer in that field. What I love about geology is that it is at the crossroad of so many subjects: GIS, physics, chemistry, geography, history and new technologies. It is also essential at every moment of our lives. Our houses contain Gypsum in the walls; our food needs to provide us with calcium, iron and potassium; most toothpastes contain fluoride that is used against tooth decay and calcium carbonate that is used as an abrasive ingredient; eyeshadows contain talc; paper contains kaolin, talc, calcium carbonate and bentonite; and I am not even talking about smartphones, cars, roads, and so forth!
Geology is so powerful and diverse that I never doubted that a career in this field would make me happy. However, when the recruiter at my first job interview asked, ‘Where do you see yourself in ten years?’, my brain started spiralling.
Did you feel you were adequately prepared for your first job interview?
It is only after a year in this company that I have realised the training we get at school to answer interview questions, doesn’t aim at defining a career path. The goal is to pass the test of the first job interview and step into the corporate world. We then need to see for ourselves what we do or don’t want to do.
Why did you choose to work at Dassault Systemes?
I decided that I wanted to report to a manager that trusted me with responsibilities and that I could trust in guiding my career progression. I also wanted to travel, to continuously learn and I wanted to share my passion for geology. So, I applied at Dassault Systemes, a famous group in Europe in 3D technologies. I read in the news that they had acquired a mining modelling company and this sparked my interest. I knew Dassault Systemes had offices all around the world, that it was hiring passionate people to ensure that the solutions proposed understood users’ needs and expectations, and that its untold motto was ‘If people do what they like, they do it better’. When I applied, I said that I wanted to trade my passion for geology with a training on programming.
What does your job involve?
When my managers at Dassault Systemes understood who I was and my taste for learning and crossroad perspective, I was offered a role as an application manager/business analyst. This means that I get to travel to participate in workshops where I talk to clients and understand their challenges. Back at the office I discuss with developers, testers and managers of existing solutions, in preparation for creating the right solution for each challenge.
Our clients are civil engineers, miners, government officials, and so forth. Their approach to geology is diverse and requires research and brainstorming sessions with specialists.
At times I get to attend seminars and read articles to remain informed on the progress made in my fields of interest. I have also chosen to work on initiatives that I am interested in, such as 3D-printed geology models; sustainable development in mining; new technology themes such as semantic modelling, machine learning and big data, and so forth. Even if they don’t always admit it, my passion for rocks rubs off on my colleagues.
What advice do you have for your younger self?
Today I can confidently say I am happy to go to work every day: I trust my chain of management; I like my job; I enjoy interacting with my colleagues; I am proud of what I have achieved so far; and as time goes by, I know I can choose where I want to go. If I was asked again where I see myself in ten years, my answer would be quite different to the one I gave five years ago. I see myself in a role that makes me feel just as free, fulfilled, stimulated, trusted and respected as I am now.
If I could go back in time and talk to my fresh-out-of-uni self, I would tell this scaredy-cat the following:
A career path is not a predefined road with strongly enforced rules, delimited tracks and a forward pace imposed. It is more like a walk in the forest. You can stay on the tracks or you can wander off. You can run, walk or even stop in an area that you want to know more. You can walk alone, in a group or behind a leader. It is okay to ask for help if you are lost. It is okay not to know what is in front of you. You are going to walk in this forest for a while, so make sure you enjoy it. Don’t walk with people who want you to trip and don’t hesitate to leave an unpleasant path. Go in the direction that tickles your curiosity. If there is something you absolutely want to do, find a way that gets you there. And when an opportunity presents itself, seize it and run with it – you can always decide later if it takes you where you want to go.
I can’t go back in time, but I can tell this to others and hopefully help them on their career journey.