Laurent Forny graduated from UTC, majoring in Process Engineering in 2004, and then went on to do what was then called a DEA (equivalent to today’s Master 2) and a PhD thesis. Since 2008, he has been a project manager with the Nestlé Group. In 2021, he was Godfather of the Guy-Deniélou thesis prize. Interactions is proud to offer its readers a portrait of a man who embodies a strong team spirit.
“I am, says Laurent, “a triple graduate of UTC», as he puts it, in a nutshell. It was after his baccalaureate in Mulhouse that he was admitted to UTC. A choice motivated by the integrated preparatory classes. «The preparatory classes scared me a little because I already had a very strong team spirit. It’s the opposite of the competitive spirit which, in my eyes, bedevils the French preparatory classes», he underlines.
His choice in favour of UTC was also motivated by the wealth of international academic partnerships and the richness of student community life, both cultural and sporting. «I was able to spend my first year of specialization in the United States (UPenn in Philadelphia). During my studies, I also played rugby for a long time, as well practiced rowing,» he adds.
The theme of the thesis? «I entitled it ‘powdered water’. This seems rather confusing to most people. It’s a powder that looks like flour, but when you knead it in your hands, it releases 98% water. Hence the use of the term ‘powdered water’, which I think is more meaningful than any scientific word,» he explains.
As chance would have it, he met a Nestlé research scientist at a conference organized at UTC, even before completing his thesis, and expressed his interest in the group. «I wanted to join an industrial sector that mad sense for me. An everyday industry that concerns people’s food in particular. The food sector is one of them. Seeing the products we develop in the shops, on the shelves, gives, in my eyes, a meaning to the work we do», he says. Laurent Forny must have been convincing because, even before his thesis was defended at the UTC-TIMR laboratory, he signed his contract. In 2008, he joined the Nestlé Group’s research centre in Lausanne, where he has held various positions. «I spent a year in Singapore working on reducing salt and sugar in products. This work was carried out in partnership with the Singaporean laboratory A‑Star. It was a very enriching stay that allowed me to satisfy my curiosity and deepen my ‘Asian’ culture,» says Laurent Forny.
As a project manager in the research and development department, he insists on the importance of ethical reflection, particularly concerning nutrition and its impact on people’s health. «These are values shared by the Nestlé Group and I clearly identify myself with them. Hence the project on reducing sugar in chocolate, for example. In this case, it was not a question of using sweeteners but of improving the ‘sweetening’ capacity of sugar. Another concerned pizzas. How to reduce the amount of salt by 30%? The trick we found was to put the salt under the pizza dough rather than in the dough itself or in the sauce without altering the taste for the consumer,» he explains.
An ethical reflection which, in his opinion, integrates, more generally, more sustainable development objectives. «At Nestlé, our ambition is to drastically reduce plastic packaging, for example, but also to achieve carbon neutrality (CO2) by 2050. In short, objectives that make sense to me. I have children and I want them to grow up in a more sustainable world,» he adds.
Beyond his professional commitments, Laurent Forny attaches great importance to the popularisation of science. As a proof, he says: «I have a special alma mater bond with UTC. I have given a number of lectures there and this year I was invited act as Godfather to the Guy-Deniélou thesis prize,’ he concludes.
- 1999 : admitted to UTC after his baccalaureate
- 2004 : obtains his engineering degree and DEA – ‘Master 2’ in Process Engineering
- 2007 : succesfully defended his PhD thesis.
- Since 2008 : research officer and project manager at Nestlé (Lausanne, Singapore, Orbe).