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SheCanCode Spotlight Series: Stéphanie Foucart, Head of Software, Exotec

Stéphanie Foucart, Head of Software, Exotec

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Stéphanie Foucart has an engineering degree and a master's degree in ai from Ecole des Mines d'Alès. She has been working at Exotec, a global warehouse robotics company, for two years as head of software.

Prior to joining Exotec, Stéphanie had a varied career. She has worked within the defence industry at Thales, held the position of Chief Delivery Officer at Acteos and most recently as Project Director at Incubate Yourself, where she specialised in helping organisations with management transition.

SHECANCODE CAUGHT UP WITH STÉPHANIE TO TALK ABOUT ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK, WHAT AN AVERAGE DAY LOOKS LIKE FOR HER, AND HER ADVICE TO OTHER WOMEN IN TECH.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED? 

I was headhunted by Exotec to join the team, and the role was the perfect fit for me! Becoming Head of Software at Exotec meant I could put my knowledge and experience of IT, logistics and embedded systems to good use, so it made total sense to make the jump. It felt like the job description had been written just for me.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE? 

In the robotics industry, driving innovation within teams and managing and carrying out the vision is key. My role as Head of Software plays a significant role in achieving this. I manage teams to create the link between application, technique and transmission to create the best solutions for our clients.

 I chose to specialise in IT because it has opened up many different areas of opportunity for me. The IT industry is growing rapidly and through my work I’ve been able to make a real difference to the world around me. It’s a very rewarding path, and I hope that younger people – particularly women – will also see the benefits of entering the IT field.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

My role models have always been the people I work with. The tech industry has produced some larger-than-life characters, but I feel more inspired by my colleagues and managers who have encouraged me and helped me reach new heights in my career.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

Teamwork is really important to me, especially in such an ever-changing and collaborative work environment. I’m most proud of the many teams that I’ve built from scratch. There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing people grow and flourish within a team while achieving outstanding results. My team at Exotec is no different.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?

My days usually begin with meetings at both a company and a team level. This enables me to establish priorities for the day ahead.  

Throughout the day my activity varies depending on what hat I’m wearing! Head of Software is a very cross-functional role, so I can be found working on recruitment, team leadership, sharing business expertise and making technical decisions. No day is the same, but everything I do is working towards ensuring that the best practices are in place.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

There are a few specific skills that come to mind. Companies will look for the ability to analyse and problem-solve in a complex and dynamic environment. Other skills or traits employers will look for in the IT and robotics industry are teamwork, discipline and focus.

If you come to the table with the right attitude and a willingness to learn and collaborate, most companies will be keen to work with you to take you as far as you want to go.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

Not that I am aware of. Throughout my career, I have never felt like I have hit a glass ceiling, and I’ve been lucky enough to be encouraged and supported in each of my roles. I want to foster a similar environment for my colleagues, particular junior members of staff, so they too can benefit from learning and development in their career.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

I am a very focused, calm and collected person. I rarely feel stress in my day to day life, which is very fortunate! Although of course when I’ve taken significant leaps in my careers it has felt a bit daunting. For example, I took on a management position after returning from maternity leave and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle everything at once. It felt like a lot of pressure, but it was a transformative experience.

I pushed myself, motivated myself and knew that I was resilient enough to adapt. And I did!

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

The world of work is always very different from what you can learn at school. However, in some ways I think it’s better than what you think it might be like. Learning doesn’t stop at school, and although the expectations are much different from university, it’s rewarding to see yourself improve day by day. The key thing to remember is that you’re your own driving force now, so with hard work and consistency you’ll succeed.

There’s no rush either. Your career is your own for the making, so take your time, build your career up gradually, and enjoy each part of the journey.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

For many women, it often feels like you need to take your work very seriously in order to be taken seriously in what is a male dominated industry. My advice is that you should enjoy it. If you want to get into coding or are already learning, please enjoy the experience. It’s only through experimentation and fun that we develop a taste for something, and that includes coding and other tech-based skills.

When practising coding, you quickly realise the extent of the resources available, and there is something for everyone. From the most technical to the most user-oriented, there is bound to be an angle that appeals.

Also, try not to limit yourself to clichés as there is no reason why these jobs should be reserved for men. There are plenty of flexible and lucrative jobs, and it would be a shame to leave them all to men!

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