Valérie Guillemet

Unique But Not Alone Valérie Guillemet is a rarity in the aerospace world.

Women make up about 20% of those employed in the aerospace industry – a number that has held steady for approximately 20 years. And the number is even lower in the upper echelons of management, especially in technical positions. But as education grapples with ways to recruit more girls and women to the ever-expanding fields of science and technology, Guillemet, who heads up Dassault Aviation’s Merignac facility, insists she needed no STEM initiatives or convincing to help her chose her professional path.

Guillemet, 54, studied engineering and aeronautics in college and went to work for Dassault immediately after graduation and has worked at the company for 30 years. Eight of those years were spent on the Dassault aerodynamic design team at the company’s headquarters in Saint-Cloud, near Paris. The rest of her time has been devoted to the Mérignac final assembly facility near Bordeaux where she has worked on the Mirage 2000 and Rafale fighter and Falcon 7X and 8X business jet.

“I was always interested in mathematics,” says Guillemet. “After I entered the industry, I became fascinated with technicians and workers and what they were able to “craft” with their hands and the high level of quality they were able to achieve.”


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For the last three years, Guillemet has overseen Mérignac’s 1,600 employees, a workforce evenly distributed across aircraft production and design, purchase and support activities.

Under the leadership of Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier, the Merignac facility has been primed for a major expansion intended to group Dassault design and support teams in one place and bring them closer together. This project will allow the teams to regroup, collaborate, and mix their various skill sets in a way that optimizes their effectiveness.

“I have my mind on the factory of the future. Getting everyone moving into the same direction,” Guillemet says. “How are we going to work better together and more efficiently? How is the plant going to evolve?”

But plant expansion is not the only development with which Guillemet has to grapple with. “At a time when the average graduate will likely work at ten different companies over the course of his or her career, how can Dassault continue to maintain its enviable retention rate,” Guillemet asks. “There are many people in the company who have spent their entire career at Dassault and yet recruitment is always at the forefront of company’s thinking,” she said. Continuing to attract and keep the best people is always at the top of the agenda, she notes.

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