After 20 years of project management in the field, in France and abroad, Laurent Labussière was appointed to head Mobility’s Rail Business department six months ago. Let us take the opportunity to review his career and the challenges facing him in this new role.
Tell us about your higher education
I chose an unusual educational route, qualifying for admission to the renowned Supelec engineering school after a technical diploma in electrical engineering. I specialised in industrial process control and then, after graduation, I spent my military service at the Naval Academy in Brest.
What about your professional experience?
My enthusiasm for cars led me to start my career with an automotive manufacturer, in a test bench project management department.
My next career goal was to work for a company focused on industrial projects. I therefore joined Cegelec, full of plans to travel the world, and instead ended up at Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle international airport where, for the next six years, I watched planes take off! I worked on the baggage handling project for terminal 2E, firstly in charge of the electromechanical aspect of the work (400 fitters), then as a project officer and finally as director of operations. The project was complex, both technically and contractually, and lasted much longer than initially planned. It was a difficult experience, but one that taught me a great deal.
My next assignment was in a department responsible for security projects for oil industry sites in Algeria. I started off in the rear base, overseeing technical studies, then spent two years directing the project from a base camp in the middle of the Sahara, 30 km from the nearest town. From a human and professional standpoint, being immersed in another culture was an extremely rewarding experience.
After a brief stay in Côte d’Ivoire for the commissioning of a gas turbine, in 2010 I moved to Poitiers to head the Energies sub-consortium on the huge LGV Sud Europe Atlantique project (8 billion euros!). This was my introduction to the world of major projects, with significant financial challenges and constant pressure to meet schedule deadlines. I left the project in 2015, after the four substations were powered up.
How are you getting to grips with your new role? What aspects do you enjoy the most?
The job is completely different from the first 20 years of my career. I no longer feel the adrenalin in the same way as for field projects, but I enjoy addressing strategic challenges. The timescale for developing a company strategy, for a business unit in this case, is totally different from that of a construction project. It is necessary to take a step back, to analyse market opportunities and define a long-term strategy. Relations with the teams are essential if they are to back the project.
As a newly created entity, the Rail Business department offers a true challenge; just what my career called for in terms of managing risks.
Lastly, I genuinely appreciate the professional yet relaxed atmosphere at Mobility. This was a major factor in persuading me to join the team at Saint-Maurice-de-Beynost!