Research is a positive environment where women have as many opportunities as men.
Could you tell us a bit about your career path?
Audrey H. Since I was in high school, I knew I wanted to work in chemistry. I studied at ENSIC, a technological university that specializes in chemical processes, a sector that offers opportunities in R&D and engineering, as well as in production of energy, pharmaceuticals, food and cosmetology.
I specialized in energy processes, an area that I was particularly interested in because of the changes taking place in the energy world. I felt that I could contribute to the energy change in progress, and I was really attracted to energy.
After two years of studies at Polytechnique Montreal (Canada) with a focus on sustainable development and the environment, I started an internship at ENGIE Lab CRIGEN in the Liquefaction lab. It was love at first sight. In October 2020, after a year as a research engineer, I became a project manager.
In your opinion, is being a woman in this sector more of an asset or a handicap?
Audrey H. I would like to get rid of the idea that being a woman is somehow a handicap!
I don't feel any hindrance in my professional life due to the fact that I am a woman, or at least not at CRIGEN. Research is a positive environment where women have as many opportunities as men.
But is it an asset? Well, in everyday life, it is an asset to be a woman. I believe that it pushes us to better ourselves -- perhaps because we feel the need to prove ourselves -- to go further, to perfect our work, and be more passionate.
How do you envision the future of energy?
Audrey H. Just like the world of tomorrow, the world of energy is worrisome. It holds a lot of uncertainties, especially for young people, like myself.
Energy will be much more diverse in the future. Alongside fossil fuels like oil and gas, we will see the deployment of hydrogen, biogas and synthetic fuels. In addition to the major groups like ENGIE, EDF, Total, I think we will see many more players and startups.
The future will depend on the energy sources that governments seek, which is not always predictable. The French government has positioned itself toward the use of hydrogen, with a recovery plan that we have been waiting several years for. Will changes in government change these priorities?
To sum it up in a word or two, I’d say the world of energy tomorrow will be “diversified” but “uncertain.”
Do women have a specific role to play in the energy transition?
Audrey H. Perhaps without realizing it, women do have a somewhat specific role. Naturally, they put up barriers, face challenges that are a bit steeper than some men. For example, I find that I have the same opportunities as my male colleagues, but I feel obliged to put in more effort even if it doesn't make sense to do so.
Is there a project you’ve worked on that you are particularly proud of?
Audrey H. It's not necessarily a project, but I'm very proud of my background. I came to CRIGEN as a research engineer and after a year, I was offered a management position at one of the projects within the Lab. I'm really proud to have gotten there so quickly, and I guess it's a form of recognition for my work in the team.
Do you have a message for women in tech or elsewhere?
Audrey H. My message for young people is that all career paths are accessible to women. I would like to reassure them by saying that I have never encountered any limits or sexism at work.
I think this is not specific to CRIGEN or ENGIE. Women and young people who are in school need to tell themselves that they are able to do any job without placing any constraints, either professional nor personal.
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