Claire-Odile Fonteneau is head of operations at the Séché Eco-Industries site in Le Vigeant (France). She describes herself as shy but admits that she has become more confident since she took on the role. Despite her responsibilities, she remains friendly, sincere and modest.
What was your career before joining Séché Environnement?
When I graduated from the school of water and environmental engineering in Limoges in 2006, I sent in a speculative application and I was taken on as Quality, Health, Safety and Environment (QHSE) manager. In 2018, I became deputy operations manager and then, a year later, site operations manager.
What does your job involve now?
I manage the operation of a waste storage site. My role is to oversee regulatory compliance to protect the environment. On a day-to-day basis, I manage a mostly male workforce, improve working conditions and ensure that everyone is happy and able to progress. I see it a little like a puzzle, each employee is different and I try to put it all together without any piece being left out. At the Le Vigeant site we have the satisfaction of a job well done. We don’t want to leave badly managed waste to future generations.
What is your best professional memory?
The site’s biodiversity correspondents gave me the opportunity to visit the private collections of the Natural History Museum, something not available to everyone. That’s not representative of my daily life, of course, but it was a great experience to share with my colleagues.
Industry is a rather masculine sector – how do you find it?
It’s not always easy. You need to find your place. Since I’m a young woman, the men try to talk me round more. But they’ve known me for a long time. Before I was a manager they would already come to me and now they confide in me more easily. Unlike my predecessors, I am on-site every day, which helps build close relationships.
What advice would you give to a young woman starting out in this profession?
When I first joined the group, a female manager told me: “Where there's a will, there’s a way!” That is the advice I would pass on in turn. Although it’s hard sometimes, you should always try to do your best to achieve your objectives and be satisfied that you did what you did.
What do people generally not know about you?
I love to knit, draw, paint, make things from cardboard... Anything to do with crafts. I like working with my hands, although I haven't used that side of my personality in a professional capacity yet.
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