Current position: Regional Regulatory Manager EMEA Biologics, Crop Science, Lyon
Joined Bayer in: 2009
"Today I find it easier to work with my American counterparts because I know how they work and how they might interpret the way we work in France."
How did you come to join Bayer's Regulatory Affairs Department?
I had been working at ANSES (1), where I was analyzing pesticide approval applications. It was an interesting job but there were very few career prospects. I had noticed how thorough and meticulous Bayer's applications were, so I sent in an unsolicited job application.
When did this opening for a job abroad come up?
After three years in European Regulatory Affairs for amateur gardeners, I felt I'd like to work abroad for a while. Because the group's recruitment policy encourages internal mobility, there are regular openings in every field. I initially replied to a job offer posted on the internal job board, for a position in North American Regulatory Affairs in the Environmental Science Division in Raleigh, North Carolina. The position was not open for international recruitment, so nothing came of it. Then, six months later, they got back in touch with me. In 2012, I took up a three-year expatriation contract.
What guidance and support were you given?
Bayer has a mobility policy to support expatriate employees. I got the impression I was really being looked after, both for getting settled there and finding my feet in the company. My husband and I received training in the cultural aspects, which turned out to be very useful. As for the accommodation, we were given such great help that I was able to start work as soon as I arrived.
Was English a barrier?
Intensive English lessons had been arranged. But because I already worked in English, it was an easy transition. And I realized how important it was to be proficient in English in a group that did so much to encourage interaction between employees from every country.
US legislation is different. How did you prepare to cope with this?
That's true for approval principles, but the main principles on which regulatory processes are based are identical. There was a knowledge transfer phase with the person I was replacing. Learning by example in a face-to-face situation is definitely the most effective way to do it! For my part, I brought them new ideas that were being applied in Lyon.
What's your overall feeling about this expatriation?
I loved living abroad and seeing how the Americans work. Now I find it easier to work with them because I know how they operate and how they might interpret the way we work here. It was very instructive to see two methods used in the same fields. Today I can pick and choose the best from each side. I also help my colleagues in the global headquarters with specific, very detailed points of US law.
Any advice for those who might still be hesitating?
All experience abroad is beneficial if you keep an open mind and are ready to put yourself in the learner's seat. At Bayer, expat assignments are not just for top management. My time in Raleigh strengthened the ties with the global headquarters of Environmental Science in Lyon. It's also a way of spreading the company's ideas, major strategies and LIFE values.
(1) French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety