Alexia | Apprentice engineer
Can you explain your career path?
I am a student at an engineering school called ICAM and I first knew about Fives at the Companies Forum that my school runs every year. I was looking for a sandwich course that would help me gain experience linked to my course and give me solid credentials once I graduate. I joined Fives in September 2016 in its Piping Solutions activity, within the Operational Excellence team of Fives Nordon. I began with a one-month immersive placement in the manufacturing workshops in Nancy, during which I learnt about the different machine operator stations.
In February 2017, I joined the teams located at the Lacq centre (in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques département in south-west France) which is a pre-fabrication workshop for piping networks for the gas industry. Like when I was training in Nancy, I was initially mentored by a member of the team on my first continuous improvement project, which involved assessing flows in offices. When the assessment was complete, we had to follow through the action plan to upgrade the machines in the center and deploy continuous improvement tools in the branch’s gas installations. That was how I became the continuous improvement lead for the Lacq site, where around forty people work.
During my course, ICAM asked me to do an internship abroad. I talked about it with the Fives Nordon teams, who put me in touch with another Group entity in the UK. I was lucky enough to spend three months at Fives Landis Ltd, which designs and develops high-precision grinders for carmakers. As well as improving my level of English, this experience allowed me to discover another business culture and other continuous improvement methodologies. It also earned me recognition for my continuous improvement skills internationally.
I am currently in the last year of my sandwich course with a period of 6 months in the company, and 6 months in school. For this last assignment, Fives Nordon gave me a rewarding goal: to improve the productivity of the Lacq center. I am finding out just how much my past experiences are helping me carry out my project with complete independence!
If you had to sum up this journey, what would you say?
If I had to sum up my experience at Fives Nordon, I would say that it has been characterized by constant mentoring towards independence. All the tasks and projects I have been given have followed the same pattern: immersion, guidance and support followed by autonomy. I am now the Operational Excellence lead for the Lacq site. As my tutor is in Nancy, I have a videoconference call with him and the center manager every week to monitor my progress. I am also supported by the Human Resources department, which has worked with me throughout my various company placements. At the end of this last assignment, I have already arranged to have a careers interview to discuss the opportunities I will have in September 2019. When I graduate, I’d like to continue as a junior Operational Excellence engineer, or try out project management roles in France, or abroad.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in joining us on a sandwich course?
A three-year sandwich course at an engineering school has been difficult from a logistical perspective because my school and my company are in different cities, in fact in different regions. And, Fives being an organization made up of several human-sized sites, I also need to travel to meet the teams. The company has given me the chance to be a stakeholder in projects, but again that means travelling to meet each other and work together. Which I really enjoy! So, my advice is: be mobile and above all be proactive!