Current employer: Astellia
Current job title: Presales Engineer
Current location: Rennes, France
“The University of Plymouth offers a wide range of opportunities. It is definitely a good place to make connections with people from different departments. There is also a lot of support on offer for international students to help cope in a different cultural environment.”
Tell us about your career path since graduation.
When I graduated in 2002, I went back to France to complete a masters degree, in the city of Rennes, before starting to work. This degree was oriented to more general items like management, how to create a company, and some technical knowledge on various subjects. I decided to undertake this degree because after two years in Saint Malo, and another two years in Plymouth, which make four years in the telecom domain, I wanted to gain more general skills. I then got a position at Astellia as a support engineer and, after a few years, I moved to presales activity.
What is the most difficult thing which you have faced in your career?
In 2006, I received a mission to deploy a telecom system across Pakistan. With equipment in each city, I was cautious of the operational constraints. Transport from one city to another was on a truck and on unpredictable roads, especially in the mountains. Then, for system setups, I trained local engineers to perform the necessary action at each location. In the end, we succeeded and nine years later we are still working with this company.
What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?
In 2007, I worked as a trainer in Bangladesh. The people who attended were very interested and the sessions were very interactive with a lot of exchanges. During short breaks, I also took part in various discussions which were not specifically related to work. After the training, a number of engineers stayed on to do their expected actions. As the scope of the training was in relation to their daily work, I was aware of the on-going projects. So we stayed a few evenings at the office, ordered pizzas, and moved things forward quite quickly.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?
Try things which look interesting and keep following the direction of your objective. Be smart when facing new problems. Anticipate things and keep a close eye on tasks. Be ready to fight off competition: this might require working full time during a week (including evenings) when a business opportunity looks to be close by.
How did studying at Plymouth help you?
I am from Brittany, where the weather is almost the same as in Cornwall and Devon. There is also a similar culture: I play rugby, listen to the Beatles, Stones, Pixies etc. and like to talk with people down the pub. All in all, I cannot say there was a big gap in terms of culture… apart from when it comes to food. Actually, I adjusted myself quite quickly to the fish and chips and pasties. My time at the University particular helped to develop my presentation skills and writing; I developed a sense of responsibility; and I learnt how to manage my time.
Is there anything else which you would like to share with our current students?
Be as active as possible. The University of Plymouth offers a wide range of opportunities. It is definitely a good place to make connections with people from different departments. There is also a lot of support on offer for international students to help cope in a different cultural environment.