As we prepare to celebrate International Women’s day on March 8th, it provides us the opportunity to assess how far women have come in various fields and professions.
In the world of engineering and fastener design, ARaymond is one global firm that recognizes the importance of female voices in their current and future endeavors. In addition to actively recruiting talented female team members, they also recognize the importance of listening towomen’s voices at the highest levels of business development.
Laurence Fayand, who serves as President and Managing Director of ARaymond’s Business Incubator andAccelerator, leads a team that is responsible for developing technologies of the future at ARaymond — including the latest advances in fastening, fluid handling portfolios, and data & digital service. ARaymond is based in France but has a U.S. headquarters in Michigan and a presence throughout the globe in more than two dozen countries.Fayand’s background prior to ARaymond includes serving as CFO at multiple technology companies including Kayentis and Tronics Microsystems, and a lengthy stint in key management roles at HP.
Fayand recently answered several questions about her role at the ARaymond Incubator, and why it’s important to grow the number of women in STEM roles as well as business/leadership positions.
Q: What is the incubator program at ARaymond and what is your role?
A: The incubator is a business acceleration platform, where we aim to identify and support new initiatives outside of ARaymond’s core competencies to bring new revenue streams for the future that are in line with our mission. These activities work initially in a startup mode before being integrated into the company once the work is validated. I make sure we have the right leadership to make these changes happen, and I support small teams of entrepreneurs who aim to build new streams of revenue. I empower and coach innovative project teams to createand deliver new sustainable propositions for our customers.
Q: Why is a diverse staff important for innovation to occur?
A: As a woman, I’ve been educated with stronger equality principles. Diversity is important to innovation, and at ARaymond we try to avoid having everyone from the same schools, same places, same genders. In one of our projects, we count five different nationalities out of nine people working togetherin an agile mode with daily reviews.
Without a variety of perspectives and backgrounds, innovation is less likely to happen. Innovation and creativity are the drivers of our continued progress at ARaymond. New ideas from new people lead to new ways of doing things, new products, new services, and new technologies.
Q: Are there any challenges you face being a female leader at ARaymond?
A: I believe that being a female leader in this field can actually be a competitive advantage. I was recruited by ARaymond because of the specific perspective I could bring to the company as they look to diversify their product offerings and designs. Even though engineering is still largely male, I’m seeing major stridesin the number of women joining the field, and I’m looking forward to that trend continuing. Whether it’s product design or a business leadership role like mine, the future can be more femaie.
Q: What difference does a woman bring to team leadership?
A: Team leadership style depends more on your personality than on your gender.The difference might be in the average balance between soft and hard power: Soft power is the ability to give energy, attract people, have a positive mindset, be persuasive, the ability to advocate and stand up for people.Hard power isusing the authority given by your position.Studies have shown that more diverse companies are more innovative, and hiring women is an important part of that.
In the project incubation and innovation skill set where I work, it’s very important for people to be trusted and have this possibility of trying new things, even though they are challenged a lot. For me, the impression I get is that when I as a woman challenge them, it’s often received better than if it was a man. We want to bring more clarity to the conversation. It’s received with openness. They don’t feel judged, just pushed toward innovation.
Q: Retaining talent is another issue that challenges employers. What does it take to ensure women in the STEM fields stick around and limit turnover?
A: The number one reason employees will leave your company is lack of autonomy and trust. When I was hired at ARaymond to lead the incubator, I was given a large amount of autonomy and empowerment to lead my team without being micromanaged. As a leader, I strive to do the same with my team so they can remain positive about their work and want to stay with ARaymond for the long term. We make sure we listen to employees and care about what they need to do their job properly.We’re also flexible with work schedules, so if they want to work at home or a different schedule, they are free to do so.
Q: What are some of the exciting ideas coming out of the Incubator at ARaymond?
A: We have some exciting work that’s been developed by the Incubator in the area or mechatronics, which involves a combined solution featuring temperature and pressuresensors that are embedded into our Quick Connectors and other fastening products. This new line will prove important for thermal management in the growing field of electric vehicles. We’re also working on more exciting new projects related to assembly control solutions through software, digital & machine learning developments and other topics.
Q: What are some efforts ARaymond are working on around the world to inspire young women to the STEM professions?
A: Keeping with this year’s International Women’s Day theme of using innovation and technology to support gender equality, ARaymond’s global CSR model believes in human rights and diversity and inclusivity, and strongly advocates and implements this in all its entities. For example, our ARaymond India operation is providing digital literacy lessons to girls from the rural area in Pune district. ARaymond India is also providing scholarships to 100 girls from rural areas and lower socio-economic backgrounds, providing these girls with skills training and computer courses. Improving digital literacy by providing technology and training to those most in need is just one way to develop the talent of the future and create a positive impact in these girls’ lives.
Digital literacy will give these girls a chance at a better future, and we’re glad ARaymond can contribute our small part in this important fight. It’s easy to take for granted that everyone has access to proper education and technology, but that’s not always the case in many countries, especially for girls and young women.
Laurence Fayand is President and Managing Director or ARaymond’sBusiness Incubator and Accelerator. The ARaymond Network has more than 8,000 employees worldwide, and is one of the global leaders in fastening and assembly solutions for many market segments.