Portrait | Education, Entrepreneurship / Innovation

They make the Université de Lyon: meet Constance Robeyns

On The September 26, 2019

The Université de Lyon met with Constance Robeyns, head of research and development at Robatel Industries and a participant in the first Doc’Talks event held by the Université de Lyon.

Please introduce yourself in a few words. What is your background?

I am 29 years old and I am responsible for research and development at ROBATEL Industries, a small business to the east of Lyon. I am in charge of the company’s materials and chemistry research and development projects.

My educational background is quite straightforward. I’ve known that I want to work in a chemistry laboratory since middle school. After graduating from high school, I joined the Clermont-Ferrand school of chemistry (now Sigma Clermont), where I specialized in materials. I took a gap year to participate in civic service missions. After that year, I started my thesis at the Ingénierie des Matériaux Polymères (IMP) laboratory in Lyon, in partnership with Hutchinson. I received my PhD in April 2018 and joined Robatel Industries one month later.

What did you gain from your PhD in terms of your current occupation?

I gained a lot from this PhD program! First of all, my thesis allowed me to get involved in the world of research. Becoming a part of this world for over 3 years helped me appreciate both the challenges faced by a laboratory and the constraints of a company.

Subsequently, I developed my scientific writing capabilities and improved my public speaking skills. Between quarterly meetings, publications, international conferences, reports and the final PhD manuscript, you have to find a way of organizing your results so that they are easy to share with other researchers.

What’s more, I had the opportunity to oversee a Master’s internship during my thesis, which allowed me to learn some management skills. All of a sudden, it was up to me to answer questions or verify protocols.

I have also built a professional network. As a matter of fact, I have got back in touch with many PhD students and researchers as part of my ongoing work, in order to obtain advice or analyses.

Finally, the PhD program is highly valued in the corporate world, especially in large companies. Small businesses can also really benefit from hiring a PhD graduate, as they can bring new momentum to the company. What’s more, the French Research Tax Credit can now help companies hire doctors on a permanent contract, as was the case for me. Generally speaking, I noticed a renewed interest in my application when my CV title went from ‘PhD student’ to ‘doctor’, so it is definitely a valuable status!

It demonstrates a certain level of technical, editorial, linguistic and managerial capability, as well as oral fluency. The thesis is often perceived as three years of isolation and 200 pages of work, but it’s so much more than that!

What advice would you give to future doctors at the Université de Lyon’s to best prepare for their future?

Keep in touch with everyone you meet, LinkedIn is the perfect way of doing so.It’s a small world, and you may need these people one day!

Enroll in the Université de Lyon’s training programs! This will allow you to build your network and to discover subjects that are not necessarily related to your thesis, but which may prove useful later on in your career.The Doc’Talks (after-work gatherings which bring PhD students and doctors together in a friendly environment to interact and share their experiences) are also an opportunity to talk to PhD students from other fields of study, which is always rewarding.

And finally, breathe! You are not alone, and if you are determined to finish your thesis, you will succeed, even if it takes a few more months than planned.When you are writing your dissertation, be sure to go out for some fresh air, see friends or play sports… Give yourself a break! Your brain and sleep will thank you!