As part of our ‘Female Leaders: Inspiring Together’ series, we interviewed Céline Crochet – Services Manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific – who told us the achievements she is proud of as a manager and how she manages to balance her career with being a single mum.


Thank you for taking part in this campaign. To start with please can you tell us a bit about your current role and the company you work for?

I work at Thermo Fisher Scientific, which is a big company in the field of science. I work for a division that deals with software for the analytical laboratories and manages the samples from the point of collection to the rendering of results. My division is called ‘Digital Science’. I’m a Services Manager and I manage a team of six consultants who have dual competence in scientific and IT skills and they install and integrate software. My team are based remotely in different places in France and Spain. I also manage clients in these two territories and all of southern Europe. Sometimes travel is involved as part of my role but otherwise, I am based at home, so Covid-19 hasn’t really changed anything for me in terms of working from home.

What inspired you to start your career in this area?

When I was younger, I wanted to be a doctor for ‘Doctors without Borders’ but I didn’t succeed, which was upsetting for me initially. I decided to do a medical biology course because my uncle was a biologist and it was also a subject that interested me a lot. After a few years spent in the lab, I felt it wasn’t challenging me enough because I had different aspirations. Working in a lab is an exciting job, but I wanted to move to a different role and I was keen to work in the capital. I was recruited by a company that had come to install the software in my laboratory. It was through joining the team that I acquired this dual competence in scientific and IT. I then went from being a trainer to a service manager.


What obstacles have you encountered during your career?

“For career development, it is really important to surround yourself with talented people and to build a network.”

I can’t say that I’ve really encountered barriers because every time I wanted to progress, I was given the chance. I was lucky and I met the right people at the right time. For career development, it is really important to surround yourself with talented people and to build a network and this can be virtually through social media too. These people are more than just acquaintances and they become friends, whether they are customers, partners or competitors. By creating this network, I have been able to change roles each time that I have had this desire and this need in my career.

I would also like to emphasise that nothing is gained without true effort. For example, when I arrived at Thermo Fisher Scientific 13 years ago, my English skills were at a conversational level and I wasn’t at the business level required to join this company. Despite that, they trusted me and agreed to hire me. In return during the three months of my probation period, I studied English in the evenings and practiced it regularly. I don’t see these as obstacles, instead it is more knowing what you are ready to give in exchange in order to progress.


What achievement are you proudest of in your career so far?

In general, the things I am most proud of are not in my career, they are in my private life, because I don’t place them at the same level. Looking specifically at my career though, I am proud to have a team that I get along well with and I am proud of my achievements as a manager. I wanted to be a manager who is focused on the human aspects of the job and I wanted to implement a guiding and coaching management style rather than just tracking numbers and being focused on the data. I am proud to have managed to do this with my team. Whilst I am proud of my achievements so far, I still try to challenge myself. I signed up for an Executive MBA course in April, which I have been working on in my evenings and weekends. I also think that work never really stops so we have to know our limits and not set challenges bigger than we can actually accomplish.


How do you manage the balance between your personal and professional life?

“I think for me coming to live in the country has put me back on an even pace. I love big cities but often living there doesn’t give you the time to pause.”

I don’t know if I am handling it well to be completely honest. You should ask my eight-and-a-half-year-old son if I manage it well.  How do I manage? I just try. I try to be on time where I think that punctuality is important. I think if you try to move meetings and your schedule, everything goes in all directions. For me personally, it is not a question of organisation it is more a case of putting the hours in. I don’t need a lot of sleep – I tend to sleep 5 or 6 hours – so that enables me to extend my working day. Unconsciously, I have sacrificed my personal life for quite a few years. Then at the age of 45, I decided to adopt my son. When I mentioned the things that I’m most proud of are in my personal life, being a single mum is one of them. I repositioned a lot of areas of my life so that I can manage as a single mum and take care of my child, my house, my garden and my animals. Taking an hour to take care of your children or your house does not damage your work. It will recover easily. I think we are in a world where everything seems urgent and I try to always remember a phrase from one of my professors in medicine, ‘there are no real urgencies apart from people who go to hospitals; the rest are just people under pressure and that is not the same thing at all.’ We are not obliged to respond to all of our emails within 5 minutes. I think for me coming to live in the country has put me back on an even pace. I love big cities but often living there doesn’t give you the time to pause. I don’t really believe in disconnection meaning I am not the type to leave my computer because it is 6pm and not look at it until the next day. I am more in the mindset where all these things can mix without impacting the other.


What advice would you give to women in your industry looking to grow their careers?

Firstly, always try. There isn’t much that is impossible to achieve if you really want it. We shouldn’t be afraid of failure too for that matter. We can bounce back from our failures and it doesn’t mean we have to lose confidence. Secondly, remain curious no matter what happens, continue to dream and continue to have projects and goals. My grandmother passed away at 97 years old and she was full of dreams and ambition and I think that is important. I do think it is important to have doubts about yourself, but you must be humble when this happens and ask for help with the things you do not know. Whether you are a manager or not, you have to be proud of what you are good at and accept your weaknesses and we should not be worried about that. As women, we have to be proud of ourselves and accept who we are. If we have to stop working because we have to pick up our children from school, there should be no issue with accepting that. We shouldn’t suffer in silence watching the time because we have other duties to accomplish.

I do not like the term equality. We can be equal on notions of salary, positions and responsibilities, but I prefer the concept of fairness rather than equality. It’s a much more interesting notion and I believe that our differences are also our strengths. My advice is that we should not be afraid of affirming who we are whilst always remaining humble.


In terms of challenges do you think it is a case of women not being afraid to just go for it?

Exactly, some industries and trades are not easy for women to access yet, but it is possible. In our field of science, nothing should prevent women from shining and excelling in these professions and from flourishing. There are no closed doors even if there are more men than women. I am lucky to be in a company where minorities are recognised, whether that is a gender minority, ethnic minority, or sexual orientation. Thermo Fisher Scientific is a company where all these issues have been addressed with teams working worldwide. Companies need to show they have this will. It is also up to women to work on these topics too. We can’t wait for things to happen because waiting creates more suffering than anything else. We need to be assertive as women and show that whilst we can be different, we add equal value. Everything that we are aspiring for, including the right to have equal opportunities for women and men, requires effort. I think it also the duty of women from my generation to support younger women and it is also our duty to help women in other countries to acquire rights.


Our ‘Female Leaders: Inspiring Together’ series is running throughout March with the aim of inspiring and supporting women to become future leaders in their respective industries. Follow us on LinkedIn to join the conversation and hear the insightful stories of our featured female leaders.