Women and careers: a winning combination
Sandra Chabrier-Breil ©Bruno Lévy
Interview with an employee looking to the future.
The Special Jury Award is a nice way to acknowledge your journey. What was your reaction when your name was called out?
I was very surprised and emotional as this category was unexpected. This trophy means many things to me. First of all, it's proof that making one's dreams a reality is possible, that it doesn't just happen to other people. It is truly a wonderful tribute to the efforts accomplished by the teams I worked with, to their passion for their professions and to their desire to share amazing adventures. Last but not least, it's a "thank you" to my family.
How did you find the Sports Hub experience?
This project really was a favourite of mine. It was a gamble and I was given the opportunity to create something unique. Working at Bouygues Energies & Services in the construction of very high-voltage power lines was a fantastic challenge. By joining Bouygues Bâtiment International to manage the technical batches of this unbelievable site, I had to learn a new trade with the support of my line management and of the whole team. Five million hours worked without a single accident, this was our most proud achievement. It was also a fantastic cultural experience, having worked with people of a dozen different nationalities. Of course, striking a balance between professional and personal life was sometimes difficult. My husband's availability and the Group's expatriation assistance were a great help to me.
Do you have a fond memory in mind?
The most beautiful moment was when things started to come together. I remember the first tests on all of our equipment and the emergency solutions that we carried out at the Sports Hub after all the site workers had left. Right there and then, the stadium was ours, and we felt a true sense of accomplishment when the installations were up and running. At that moment, it was very emotional to see the result of the teams' intelligence and efforts.
Why did you choose a career in Building and Civil Works?
Right from secondary school, I knew that I wanted to be an engineer in Building and Civil Works. Living on Reunion Island, I had the opportunity to visit the Takamaka dam site, built by Bouygues Travaux Publics. Working in Building and Civil Works always seemed logical from then on. The human side of things is fundamental in this field, as is sharing and passing on knowledge. There is a sense of achievement during the handover of a project, a sense of pride that can rarely be matched in other sectors. The sense of teamwork and sharing are very strong in this activity. You usually leave a permanent mark in the landscape too, a mark that you are proud of.
What advice would you give to a young woman who is drawn to the world of building and civil works but is hesitating about taking the first step?
For me, being able to achieve what we wish to achieve is life's greatest fortune. If a young woman wishes to work in Building and Civil Works, she shouldn't hold back or tell herself that she won't be able to. She needs to take the plunge and give it a try. If I were to pass on a message, it would be GO FOR IT. Our world is evolving, attitudes are changing and barriers are being broken down. Our next step is diversity. We need this richness and we need to be more open to attract the attention of the experts in our field and gather talent.
Graduated from Lille HEI engineering school in 1994
Joined a subsidiary of Bouygues Energies & Services that same year as a works engineer on extra high voltage power line work sites
Expatriated from 2010 to 2014 to manage the technical batches (electrical, fluid and thermal) on the Sports Hub site with Bouygues Bâtiment International
Now CEO of Bouygues Energies & Services T&D France and International