For Gilles Martin, travel is a frequent aspect of his role. He is often to be found at worksites or base camps, and he'll accept a new assignment at a moment's notice. He talks to us about his background, safety issues, and how forethought is key to every project.
Tell us about your higher education.
I studied in parallel for a Master's in law, economics and management at IAE Lyon business school, and an engineering degree at CESI, also in Lyon.
What professional experience did you have before joining Mobility?
Through a work/study system, I was able to gain experience in industry (plastics and metallurgy) and in public works at Colas and Spie. I have worked in production, works and QSE management. I travelled throughout France, on various assignments, up until 2010.
In 2010, Mobility offered you a job...
Yes, I was hired as QSE Manager for the construction of three tunnels for the A89 motorway, for a two-year period.
Then, for a year, I was Safety Manager for the work on the Croix Rousse tunnel in Lyon, prior to taking on the role of Safety Manager for all of Mobility for two years.
Today, I have just finished a one-year assignment as Works Director for the overhead catenary lines for the Tours-Bordeaux Sud Europe Atlantique (SEA) high-speed railway line. SEA is a major project for which I was responsible for managing the production of electrical traction facilities for 130 km of tracks and six connections to existing lines. My role entailed monitoring, organising and motivating a team - it was like a small company in its own right, within this huge project!
Safety seems to be a common thread throughout your career to date. How does safety feature within a project, in your opinion?
Safety makes it possible to take a project forward while complying with the general rules for working together. It enables us to implement safeguards so as to improve operations. Production and safety go hand in hand - it's essential. Safety must not be seen as a day-to-day constraint. Instead, it should be viewed as a cumulation of feedback, enabling rules for working together to be implemented, to ensure that everyone can do their job and go home at the end of the day in good health.
Having seen the safety practices implemented in some other companies, I think that Mobility is not doing too badly. I prefer to put it that way, instead of saying that we're doing well, as it is essential that we continually strive to improve! Practices must evolve all the time, which calls for prevention, training and communication within teams. The danger in terms of safety is the lack of an overall policy. At Mobility, we have a whole collection of objectives, rules, procedures, methodologies and control plans, all serving as safeguards. The key to the success of a project is anticipating problems.
What drives you in your professional life?
What motivates me is not so much the role itself, as being part of these projects and seeing our worksites evolve. It is fascinating to see what mankind can achieve: boring tunnels, building 300 km of high-speed railway line in just six years...
And what I appreciate the most is being among the first to see the results of our work, before the infrastructure is made available to the public. Being the first to see the video projections in the Croix Rousse tunnel, or watching the first high-speed train pass at 352 km/h on the SEA railway line... it is extremely satisfying to see a job well done!