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Team-Spirit at its best

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.

BIO EXPRESS

  • 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).

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