5 QUESTIONS FOR ALEXANDRE PAUCHARD

Meet CSEM’s new CEO, Alexandre Pauchard, who took over on January 18, 2021. A father of two, and previously Head of Group R&D at Bobst, he shares his thoughts about CSEM and the future.

What was the driving factor behind your decision to join CSEM and take on this new challenge? 

The prospect of contributing to the mission of CSEM, supporting the swiss industry thanks to technology transfer, got me excited. When I looked at the wide spectrum of activities and technologies developed within CSEM, it dawned on me that I had worked with my teams on many similar or adjacent areas during my career: developing technologies, sensors, micro and macro-systems, complete machines, as well as software applications and IoT services. The ability to influence the destiny of CSEM, to contribute to its success, and to get out of my comfort zone were other motivation factors.

“I love the duality of CSEM’s approach, with employees getting hands-on experience working with over 200 companies, while at the same time participating in research programs with a 5 to 7-year time horizon.”

Why are you passionate about what CSEM does? What sets our company culture apart from other businesses? 

For someone with a technical background and a passion for product development, CSEM is a fantastic place to work. You can make an impact on its partners and customers, as demonstrated by the long list of innovative products that came out through collaborations with CSEM. I love the duality of CSEM’s approach, with employees getting hands-on experience working with over 200 companies, while at the same time participating in research programs with a 5 to 7-year time horizon. Very few employers can offer this wide spectrum of activities and depth of expertise.

As a non-profit company, CSEM is not driven by EBIT targets. Its mission is to have the largest possible impact on the industry through technology transfer from our dense network of academic institutions. There is no more fulfilling and rewarding mission if you enjoy innovation, technology transfer, and product development.

“Besides COVID we face several serious challenges, from the loss of the earth’s biodiversity, the overexploitation of our natural resources, or the pollution of soil, water, and air.“

How do you deal with the uncertainty generated by the COVID-19 pandemic? Do you have a personal mantra that keeps you motivated?

We must learn to live with uncertainty, like most generations before us did. Besides COVID we face other serious challenges, from the loss of the earth’s biodiversity, the overexploitation of our natural resources, or the pollution of soil, water, and air. These are some of the daunting issues our generation faces. Previous generations had their share of challenges like wars, famines, wide-scale pandemics, oppression of women, just to name a few. Through ingenuity and a pursuit for progress, many of these burdens were greatly mitigated. Just consider the successes reached in the last decade in the fight against cancer and poverty, or the penetration of renewable energies. I am an optimist at heart and surely hope that our collective wisdom will prevail. As for your second question, I like the quote from R.H. Schuller: “Today’s accomplishments were yesterday’s impossibilities.” 

“We need to do a much better job at promoting science among the youth, especially girls.”

CSEM has been emphasizing this past year the importance and power of diversity in STEMs. Why do you care about embedding diversity in our culture?

Women are great assets in engineering teams and diversity is a key ingredient of innovation. Unfortunately, clichés and preconceived ideas remain strong in our popular culture, distracting many girls from studying in STEM disciplines. If we do not train more female engineers, tech companies will have a hard time recruiting more women. Schools like EPFL are pushing hard, with action plans to foster equal opportunities and to promote women’s access to engineering fields. The percentage of female students at Bachelor level in the School of Engineering was 11% in 2010 and increased to 18% in 2019. It is 29% in the School of Basic Sciences. The trend is positive, but as a society, we need to push harder. Given the global challenges we face, we need to do a better job at promoting science among the youth, especially girls.

If you had a magic wand, what would you change in the world?

I would give humans the wisdom to treat nature with the respect it deserves.