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Preparation, visibility and knowledge of the targeted sector: three key factors of a good application

Catherine Gayda

"You have to be visible and exceed personal fears," said Raphael Royer. Preparation, visibility and knowledge of the industry are the key words that have guided his path. Today, Development Engineer at Sandvik Coromant in the United Kingdom, Raphael Royer traces the key stages of his career.
Preparing his career

Mechanical engineer from the ENSEIRB – MATMECA, Raphael Royer chose to pursue a PhD to facilitate his expatriation. He anticipated his departure abroad by asking the European label for his doctorate and developed a detailed knowledge of the mechanical engineering industry. To meet the requirements of the label, Raphael Royer worked six months in a university in Sweden and wrote his thesis in English. Back to Bordeaux, he defended his thesis in that language against a jury which had a Swedish examiner. Raphael Royer insists: “To find work abroad, you have to be visible and exceed personal fears. It is essential to speak English at international conferences to promote yourself." For Raphaël Royer, the French doctors should not hesitate to publish in English. "I am keeping up to date with publications from French universities, but some articles are written in French, and despite their interest, they are inaccessible to non-French speaking public," he laments.

Raphael Royer knows the industrial world since his engineering curriculum that allowed him to make numerous internships. When continuing in a doctoral thesis, Raphael Royer opts for academia. Interested in R&D, he indeed wants to familiarize himself with the academic world. "It was an opportunity to learn about academic research. Our teachers in engineering school had placed a big emphasis on the mutual ignorance of the academic and the industrial sectors. This misunderstanding hinders research," he says.

Knowing the industry

During his doctoral work, wanting to better understand the interactions between academia and the business world, he is involved in AquiDoc (Association of early stage researchers in Aquitaine, France) an organization whose primary mission is to promote the employability of young researchers outside the academic sector. He also invests himself in the Eurodoc association representing early stage researchers throughout Europe.

Very interested in R&D, he was familiar with the tasks that could be assigned as an engineer or a doctor but knew neither the needs nor the evolution of SMEs or larger companies in the field of mechanics. He visited engineering tradeshows and professional events to know the mechanical engineering ecosystem. "I could then understand the positioning of the companies in this sector in France and abroad," he says. “I submitted my resume to recruiters at these shows and I understood what career paths I could expect in the short, medium and long term.”

In the mechanical engineering sector, several research centres exist including Nantes in France and Sheffield in the United Kingdom. "As I said , visibility is key to being hired. I was recruited by Sandvik Coromant, company from which one of the members of my thesis committee met during his stay in Sweden. The job interview in the UK was a formality because the company already knew me," says Raphael Royer.

Working in the UK

Work in the UK pleases Raphael Royer. "I discovered a new way of working with greater autonomy which suits me very well. Contrariwise, wages are slightly lower compared to France," says the young doctor. Sandvik Coromant, located close to a research centre in Sheffield, also close to Airbus and Rolls Royce which are key customers, is developing collaborations with universities in the region. Raphael Royer is working on the niche market of composite material machining in which Sandvik Coromant wants to become the reference in 2016. "We are a small entity within the R & D of Sandvik Coromant. Everything I learned at international conferences and trade shows on the strategic importance of R & D still serves me “welcomes Raphael.” R & D interests me more than the management, I intend to pursue in an expert position in the coming years," he concludes.

ABG is a French non-profit organization. Our missions are :
  • To facilitate the transition of PhDs (whatever their field and seniority) from academia to the private sector;
  • To help companies recruit PhDs.

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