Portraits

Lecturer-cum-research scientist and entrepreneur

For the past 15 years, Jean-Pascal Foucault, a lecturer-cum-research scientist and startup entrepreneur lives a full-speed life, hopping professionally between Compiegne, Paris and Montreal. An internationally admired expert in management of physical assets (buildings and urban infrastructures) began implementing the PACKiT method he developed and which led to the creation of the company tbmaesto & Co. Here is his portrait.

Lecturer-cum-research scientist and entrepreneur

We had our appointment with Jean-Pascal Foucault at his Paris offices - where 254 people work. Two complete floors, only a stone's throw from the Montparnasse skyscraper. The walls are covered with large technical maps of the Paris airports. The company's leitmotiv - better assessment to better evolve, through analysis of existing buildings, construction and maintenance work and renovation plans.

The tbmaestro adventure began in the early 1990s. With his Ecole Polytechnique Montreal diploma, J-P Foucault started working for public employers, with responsibilities in building construction, operation and maintenance. "I soon realized that the methods used then for that kind of work were totally out-of-date", he recalls. "The approach was entirely based on curing/fixing problems - the buildings we had were not easy at all to renovate". Thus and in parallel, our young engineer began thinking about new ways to do the job.

"My first observation was that the logics underpinning uses of physical assets face three life cycles that, in essence, generate a form of dialectics: the policy governance cycle lasting about 5 years; operating uses that last some 20 years and the technical systems and components that span something like 2 generations. There is a real conflict between these time-scales". This led onto the creation of the PACKiT model - standing for pour Process on Asset for Criticality and Knowledge by Inspection and Testimonies. "What we were seeking was a more metadisciplinary approach, one involving not only the technical factors but also taking into account the financial and social-manpower strategies that underpinned the decision-making phases", details Jean-Pascal Foucault. "My aim in all this was to see all the various actors talk together and to prioritize needs for investment and operations".

In short, the PACKiT method consists of placing use-value parameters at the core of the decision-making process (concrete utilization) and to minimize the exchange factors (financial stakes). "It is what we call a fully recursive method: we begin by identifying the use value and consecutive loss of value ion an assets portfolio that we audit to assess the criticality of renovation projects. The circle is complete when we come back to the starting point with partly renovated assets".

Very soon, Jean-Pascal Foucault was invited to present this method, in publications/papers/books and/or in international lectures. It was following one such lecture that the then Director, of UTC, François Peccoud approached him. He proposed to Jean-Pascal that he could come to Compiegne to teach and set up an entrepreneurial project to implement his method. "From the very start, I has support from UTC", recalls Jean-Pascal. To accompany him, the University made available all the tools of Uteam SA, a UTC spin off company via which the lecturer-cum research scientist was able to engage his first commercial missions. "I took on board a number of young UTC graduates, inasmuch as I really wanted to encourage them with a promising future".

In July 2011, Jean-Pascal Foucault decided to set up a Paris based limited company with several UTC graduates, including Claire Duclos (a UTC 'admin' officer) and Cyril Chateau, both among his earliest and ever-faithful associates.

Eight years down the road and the tbmaesto adventure has turned out to be a full success. Indeed, this year it was ion the Les Échos hit-parade for "2019's growth champions; with a business growth rate of 45% over the period 2014-2017. This success story on something that J-P Foucault dedicates to his team members. "I have always adhered to a reality principle: placing the right persons in the right functions. I myself have never wanted to be in the executive driving seat - my position is elsewhere".

He personally continues doing what he likes best - his activities as lecturer-cum research scientist and providing expert support to tbmaestro where and when needed. Over the coming years, Jean-Pascal Foucault foresees a vet bright future for his company: "We are going to continue to grow, opening our business to operate in other languages and with other cultures, relying for this purpose on the exciting progress in artificial intelligence".

But underscoring this work is his intimate conviction and ambition: to change the world. "I place tbmaestro in the framework of a wide-ranging societal project - that of an economic transition"