Danièle Bigey graduated in 1994, majoring in Computer Engineering at UTC-Compîegne, and immediately joined the Renault Automobile Group where she held various positions. On August 30, 2022, she was invited to give an inaugural lecture at the UTC.
What, we ask, was the main theme of her lecture? «Dare, Share, Care”, she said. A mantra that her professional and personal career illustrates perfectly. It was during the presidency of Nicolae Ceausescu that she was able to come to France. As her father was a political refugee, the doors to university in Romania were closed to her. «For nearly three years, my mother and I lived meagrely on what my father sent us and on the odd jobs we could find here and there. It was a hard time, but it gave me a form of willpower and resistance. So, as I couldn’t go to university and in order not to lose what I had learnt, I forced myself to do a daily programme of work in maths, physics, learning French…», she explains.
In 1989, she was finally “freed” and arrived in France where she enrolled at the University of Rouen. «It was a culture shock on all levels. Whether it was the way of life, the abundance or the kindness of the people. With my strength of character, I managed to overcome past difficulties like those experienced in France. I remember this period with a lot of emotion because it was, for me, a second birth, a second chance at life that I didn’t want to waste», she asserts.
With a degree in Science, Danièle applied for admission to UTC, and was admitted on the high quality of her application dossier, registering for Computer Engineering.
It was after her end-of-studies project with Volvo that her adventure at Renault began. It lasted more than twenty years. «At Renault, I first had very operational experiences in project management because I like to bring people together but also to have a vision. During those years, I worked for business customers, as the direct proximity allowed us to see how the customer would use our product,» she emphasises.
Might we hear about some specific projects? «For example, for the Renault Group’s engineering department, we developed the first internal messaging system, which replaced paper distribution. For each project review, the vehicle projects required a lot of reports, about ten pages each, to be printed out for a number of recipients, which meant wasting paper. With e‑mail, we brought ease of use and considerable paper savings. We also worked on a project in the Sales department. In this case, it is a question of sharing information and working together. We have developed a portal that brings information from the various marketing entities to everyone’s attention,» says Danièle.
Can she cite a character trait that emerged during the implementation of all these projects? «I like to get people to work together and to make the most of each other’s work. Most of the time, people tend to stay isolated, out of habit or technological limitations. For example, the marketing department received the video ads but didn’t know how to share them with all their international colleagues. The introduction of the portal solved the problem and with one click people could access all the ads, without geographical limitations. We first had to solve the problem of the network, which was not originally designed to support such large files,» she says. After ten years in operations, the need to get some perspective became apparent. «I needed to have a better vision and a better understanding and knowledge of the businesses I was working for,» she says.
She then decided to take a year and a half of General Management MBA training, in the «strategy» field, at HEC. «Renault offered me to do it part-time, but I needed to live this experience to the full and I declined the proposal. Consequently, I took a leave of absence and immersed myself in this full-time international course, bilingual in French and English. An environment with diverse profiles, both culturally and professionally. It was a joy for me, and the friendships I made during this period are unbounded» she says.
At the end of the training, she returned to Renault for a purely strategic IT mission. «I was responsible, at CIO (Chief Information Officer) level, for coordinating synergy plans between the information systems of Renault and Nissan. This involved identifying all the opportunities for IS (information system) convergence, cost reduction, sharing and implementing best practices, etc.,» says Danièle.
She then left the IT department to join the Quality & Customer Satisfaction business line, where she piloted the digital and data transformation of the new group.
The pandemic arrived and, like many people, she wondered what to do next. She first joined Capgemini, as Director of Engagement Insights & Data, and then recently Egis, a world leader in civil engineering, transport and construction, which is tackling the major challenges of our time: climate emergency, digital revolution and demographic growth. As Group Applications & Data Director, Danièle hopes to make her modest contribution to a better world for future generations.