« Make France shine all over the world »

Chris­tine Kerdel­lant is the edi­to­r­i­al direc­tor of L’Usine Nou­velle, L’Usine Dig­i­tale, Indus­trie & Tech­nolo­gies, Bip and Ener­presse. She is the God­moth­er of the 2021 grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mo­ny. Inter­ac­tions inter­viewed her! 

Can you tell our readers why you accepted the role of Godmother of this 2021 UTC graduation ceremony?

It’s an hon­our! And it’s the first time I’ve been asked to do this. 

What does this engineering school represent for you? 

First of all, it was the school of Charles Fou­cault, the ex-edi­tor and qua­si-founder of Usine dig­i­tale, a bril­liant and imag­i­na­tive jour­nal­ist with whom I loved to work before he left for Switzer­land to found a start-up. So I had a good image of him from the start! Then, it was at the UTC that I got into an autonomous self-dri­ve car for the first time, an expe­ri­ence that real­ly amused me and opened up new hori­zons. Final­ly, UTC was our part­ner for the exhi­bi­tion «Indus­try seen from above»… All this cre­ates links. 

What do you expect from this class for the rest of their professional career? 

That many stu­dents choose to go into indus­try! Engi­neers can have great careers here, and “the sky is the lim­it”… There are not enough engi­neers in France, so the doors are wide open for the best of them! And then, in the race to car­bon neu­tral­i­ty by year 2050, which is our obses­sion, indus­try rep­re­sents 20% of the prob­lem and 80% of the solu­tions. We won’t make it with­out tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion in all areas, espe­cial­ly energy. 

What do you wish them? 

I wish them to do like Gus­tave Eif­fel, very fash­ion­able this year (and about whom I wrote my lat­est book): to suc­ceed in mak­ing France shine through­out the world. The engi­neers’ France was so much more inno­v­a­tive than that of the bureautechnocrats! 

What qualities and skills make the difference today? 

Adapt­abil­i­ty, intel­li­gence, ini­tia­tive, a taste for risk… But these are the same, I think, as those that enabled peo­ple to have a great career and a good life a cen­tu­ry ago! 

You very often highlight the engineering professions in your columns. What are the beliefs of your media about the world of engineering? 

We address indus­try exec­u­tives, but main­ly engi­neers. We show them that the world of engi­neer­ing is infi­nite! It leads to a wide range of activ­i­ties and pro­fes­sions, depend­ing on whether you choose to go into AI, hydro­gen, agro-food… 

If your career had been different, would you have chosen to become an engineer? In what field? Why would you do that? 

I dreamt of becom­ing a jour­nal­ist ever since child­hood. I didn’t want to hear about any­thing else. I had to fight to get there, because every­one around me absolute­ly want­ed me to become an engi­neer. In the end, I went to HEC, which seemed more log­i­cal to become a jour­nal­ist (it wasn’t in real­i­ty, and being an engi­neer would have allowed me to become a sci­en­tif­ic jour­nal­ist rather than an eco­nom­ic jour­nal­ist). Today, we reg­u­lar­ly recruit young engi­neers who want to become jour­nal­ists. They are the best pro­file to fol­low aero­nau­tics, cars or ener­gy at L’Usine Nou­velle, L’Usine dig­i­tale or Indus­trie & Technologies… 

You very regularly put forward the engineer of the future, via very successful articles and events, how do you see this engineer of the future? 

They will be famil­iar with AI and more gen­er­al­ly with our new dig­i­tal tools. But whether he cre­ates his own start-up or joins Thales or L’Oréal, I imag­ine him/her want­i­ng to work on the key issues of the world to come, with sav­ing the plan­et in mind… He/she is also some­one who works by «try and learn», who is not afraid to make mis­takes. Today’s Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or Elon Musk like to sur­round them­selves with peo­ple who know what fail­ure is: they had some them­selves in their ear­ly days and know that these ‘scars’ are the pass­port to greater success. 

Has the health crisis reshuffled the deck? 

Yes, it has caused an accel­er­a­tion of trends, whether it be the use of tele­work­ing or the rise of Chi­na. The boss of Cam­if — which sells items relat­ed to our homes, advo­cates recy­cla­bil­i­ty and short cir­cuits, and has tak­en the ini­tia­tive of no longer buy­ing any­thing out­side Europe — told me a few days ago that his results have pro­gressed as much in 1 year as he had hoped for in 5 years! 

Your rankings help choose an engineering school. How do you proceed? 

For four months we col­lect data from the schools or the CDEFI (it’s a long process, because we judge on dozens of cri­te­ria), we val­i­date them, and then we estab­lish scores on about ten items (inter­na­tion­al influ­ence, prox­im­i­ty to com­pa­nies, research, etc.). We change the cri­te­ria every two years or so. 

Finally, what is the end-of-year news for your media company and its prospects for 2022?

Usinenouvelle.com is the lead­ing BtoB web­site in France! The audi­ence is con­stant­ly grow­ing on the sub­jects of Aero, Space or Ener­gy… And it is not about to be dethroned, because over the next few months we are going to inte­grate into L’Usine Nou­velle oth­er brands from the group’s indus­try divi­sion: Info-chimie, the mag­a­zine Pack­ag­ing, etc. At the same time, the month­ly paper mag­a­zine con­tin­ues to be the indus­try ref­er­ence, and with the lock­downs it has con­tin­ued to con­sol­i­date its position.

Le magazine

Avril 2024 - N°62

Faire face aux enjeux environnementaux

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