Interview with Perrine Bordes, R&D Project Manager

28 March 2024

Perrine, Project Manager in R&D, shares her experiences and feelings as a woman working in the sciences.

My name is Perrine Bordes, and I’m Development Project Manager at TRICOFLEX.

After obtaining my engineering degree in Materials and Processes from ENSIACET* in Toulouse, I did a thesis in an ECPM** laboratory. But I discovered my passion for polymers much earlier, when I completed my DUT*** in Physical Measurement.

I joined Adventagri, a start-up whose aim was to make the most of agricultural resources, in particular the products and by-products of the starch factory in Haussimont (51).

The aim was to develop innovative solutions with higher added value than the traditional outlets in the agri-food sector.

In this context, I worked on the development of flame-retardant products, and in particular a natural and biodegradable forest fire-fighting product based on potato starch. My role was to demonstrate the effectiveness of the product through field trials in collaboration with the fire brigades and the Sécurité Civile.

Following this experience, I joined TRICOFLEX as Project Manager, where I have now worked for 12 years.

As Project Manager at TRICOFLEX, I work on the design of hoses with new functionalities or to meet our customers’ specifications. The design stage includes sizing the product, choosing materials and reinforcement, as well as industrialisation.

My role also includes monitoring and complying with regulations relating to raw materials – especially REACH**** – and finished products. In fact, I take charge of projects involving standards governing food contact or drinking water. This requires me to work with the quality department to issue certificates of conformity.

I’m also in charge of the laboratory. I supervise a team of two people who are responsible for production quality control, as well as carrying out tests in support of the development department.

Perrine, Christophe and Jean Paul, in the laboratory.

I work with the sales team to provide technical support. Close coordination with production is essential, whether it’s for planning and producing prototypes, or for putting new hoses into production. I also work with the purchasing department to source materials.

No, when I arrived, I felt that my colleagues and colleagues were benevolent.

Being a woman is more of an asset. I think I bring a perspective and skills that complement those of a male manager.

Of course, being a woman manager can sometimes give rise to prejudice. However, I don’t have any major problems with that. It’s a fact of life and you have to adapt your communication to ensure that everything goes smoothly.

As well as technical skills, the essential qualities needed to succeed in this field are: curiosity, rigour, tenacity and pragmatism; you also need to be able to make proposals and adapt to all situations.

In my job, English is compulsory, and a command of other foreign languages is a plus. In fact, have to consult scientific literature, exclusively in English, attend international trade fairs and communicate with foreign suppliers and service providers. Finally, listening and communication skills, particularly in managerial contexts, are also important to excel in this job.

Chemistry has always interested me, and I’ve been passionate about the subject ever since I was at secondary school.

It’s possible that my orientation towards the technical field was influenced by my family circle. My uncle worked in the plastics sector, a field in which he travelled a lot, and I always found his job fascinating.

“Nothing is impossible for a valiant heart, but the impossible is impossible for anyone”.

My professional approach is characterised by determination and tenacity. However, I’m also aware that despite all my determination and the resources I can deploy, some situations will not find a viable solution. This quote reflects the pragmatic reality that guides my professional commitment.

First of all, I’d take some sports equipment. Maybe I’ll take a survival book and a knife so I can get by.

Yes, a lot, I need it. I’ve been swimming since I was young. I also used to do triathlons, but I had to stop due to lack of time.

It’s possible to be a woman and be a project manager in industry, to combine professional and personal life. We hear a lot about the lack of interest in science and industry among young women, but it’s important to emphasise that they are very much present and motivated!

I’m sensitive to this, which is why, when the opportunity arises, I like to speak at information days in secondary schools and engineering schools. I’ve already had the opportunity to do this, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

It’s important to help change perceptions and encourage young girls to consider careers in science and industry.

  • ENSIACET* : The Toulouse Graduate School of Chemical Materials and Industrial Engineering
  • ECPM** : The European School of Chemistry, Polymers and Materials in Strasbourg
  • REACH*** : European Union regulation adopted to better protect human health and the environment against the risks associated with chemical substances.
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