What has been your career path?
I have a chemical and materials engineering degree from the Polytech Paris UPMC engineering school. I got my degree in 2011, then divided my time between the ENSCM school of chemistry in Montpellier and Arkema until 2014, when I finished my PhD on the chemistry of materials.
What is your current role in Arkema?
I am currently an R&D engineer. For the last year and a half I have been in charge of the solvent-based acrylic resins synthesis team.
What was the subject of your thesis?
The goal of my thesis was to develop from start to finish a new crosslinking system for coating resins. The new system had to be innovative, effective, and more environmentally-friendly than some systems currently used in this field.
What advice would you give to other students who want to do a PhD?
To bring a thesis to a successful conclusion you need: perseverance, thoroughness, and a great deal of curiosity. You also need to be versatile, organized, and able to work on your own. In the world of chemistry, it is especially important to enjoy working in the lab and to know how to do bibliographic research, in order to keep up to date with advances in science. You also need communication skills because you regularly have to present your progress and results to your thesis instructors or at scientific conferences.
Why did you choose Arkema for your thesis?
During my end-of-course internship in Arkema, I spoke of my ambition to work in research. I was offered the chance to write this thesis. I accepted the offer because the subject seemed interesting and topical. I then did interviews with HR and the center director, as well as the research laboratory in Montpellier. At the conclusion of those interviews, I was recruited.
What difficulties have you had to overcome?
When the results do not arrive on schedule or the actions do not go as planned, you have to know how to be patient, think critically, and question your approach. The process of writing a thesis is complex too, because you have to sum up three long years of work in a 300-page manuscript.
What are the advantages of writing a thesis in Arkema?
The major advantage is being able to work on subjects that are both innovative and tangible. Furthermore, working for an industrial manufacturer lets you see what company-life is like.
What about your career opportunities?
My thesis gave me the chance to find a job in research and development because Arkema is recognized worldwide as a leading company in chemical engineering. What's more, three years as a PhD student can be considered three years of company experience, which is a considerable advantage when it comes to finding a job.
One of your qualities and one flaw?
My ability to listen and communicate. I hold back a little too much in some situations!