Current position: Analytics 2 Lab Leader, Bayer Crop Science, La Dargoire
Joined Bayer in: 2002 (employed in 1989 at Rhône Poulenc)
"Bayer lets young and not so young people alike change jobs horizontally, vertically and also to other geographical regions. It's an opportunity that not all major groups offer."
What path had your career taken at Bayer prior to your secondment?
I started out 26 years ago as a technician at La Dargoire, then worked in the Structural Analysis Laboratory before becoming Lab Leader in the Analytics 2 group in 2004. I thought that joining a major group would ensure that I learned a lot and on an on-going basis - which was true - and that I would change jobs regularly...
Hence your secondment...
Yes. I accepted a six-month assignment at the Marle industrial facility. As it happens, it was the first secondment in my career and I learned a lot from it! It didn't take me long to make up my mind, though I did wonder whether I'd be able to do something else after having spent so long in the same environment.
What did the job entail?
I was standing in for someone. I was in charge of the control laboratory - a job I was familiar with - as well as quality and the IMS (1), an area that was completely new to me What's more, whereas there used to be two of us in the laboratory in La Dargoire, there were nearly 20 people reporting to me in Marle during the season. The team in place was very professional and competent, and helped me a lot. It was a real challenge as far as management goes, and very good for me.
What material support did you have?
For short assignments, the host site takes care of the logistics (accommodation, car, etc.) while the home site continues to handle the pay. Everything went very smoothly, with the kind help of my HR contacts.
What surprised you most when you arrived at Marle?
It was a totally different world. In research, each stage can take months and the whole process 10 years. In a production setting, you have to produce, package and ship in a continuous process. "Urgent" doesn't mean the same thing in a plant as in a research lab, as I learned very quickly.
Is it common practice for Bayer to call in employees from other entities?
Bayer offers more and more short assignments to foster exchanges and get know-how circulating between different departments, sites and divisions. And it was Marle's idea to recruit a Bayer employee from outside, so that he or she could then act as an ambassador for the plant. As a general rule, Bayer lets young and not so young people alike change jobs horizontally, vertically and also to other geographical regions through international mobility (2). It's an opportunity that not all major groups offer.
How did this experience change you?
I think I'm more direct now in my management. I was able to see the final outcome of my research work, since the molecules on which I had worked in the laboratory were there on the packaging lines. I was of course aware of this long chain of actions, but seeing it with my own eyes was very gratifying! Those six months also showed me that I could be useful elsewhere. If another opportunity cropped up, I'd take it.
(1) Integrated Management System
(2) Read what Géraldine has to say