A 2001 graduate of INSA Toulouse, Sandra initially came to Thales for an internship, which later turned into full-time employment. She worked in several areas of the business over the past fifteen years, before becoming an expert in systems architectures for IP telephony systems
Can you tell us a bit more about how you got here?
After graduating from INSA Toulouse in 2001 with a degree in Networks and Telecommunications, I did my capstone internship with Alcatel's ISR department, which then became part of Thales. After my internship, I was hired by Thales Communications France (now TCS) as a developer.
I developed software for seven years and became fluent in the Voice over IP field before joining a systems engineering team, and then becoming an RCP (now a Product Line Manager) for the New Generation of IP Networks (NGIN) for naval communications.
I then returned to my first love, working as a software architect and multimedia specialist at the Software Competence Centre for Switching & Routing.
Now, I’m an Expert IP Telephony Architect. I work across sectors to help build systems architectures for all of the business lines of SIX, and then monitor developments using the Multimedia Product Software Platform that we’ve developed over the last few years.
Why did you choose this path?
Thales offered me the opportunity to focus on specialised problem sets in a highly topical subject area. Our job is to use the latest civil technologies, standards and products to provide highly customised solutions for our defence customers. That's a constant challenge — and that's what keeps me motivated every day.
Looking back, what have been the highlights of your career so far?
The opportunity to work across a whole range of different lines of business has taught me a great deal about practical operational requirements and the specific characteristics of each type of application.
New opportunities arise almost daily, and if we are interested in them, we can seize them. It opens up so many new doors while at the same time allowing for continuity—something that is only possible at a large company like Thales.
What are the main challenges you face on a daily basis?
One difficulty is jargon. Each business has its own specific jargon, which can cause misunderstandings and impact the solution we develop. Often, two different business lines will use different words to describe the same concept, or the same words to describe very different concepts. This complicates matters and makes it harder to find common ground. But co-engineering methods help to overcome most of the misunderstandings.
Another challenge is that business lines sometimes have difficulty accepting the product policy. It’s easier to create haute couture than ready-to-wear…
Where do you see yourself next?
I see myself heading in a new direction now, so that I can continue to broaden my knowledge in areas other than Multimedia (other services, use cases, customers, technologies). Maybe something less technical, more business or management oriented. Perhaps spend some time on the civilian side? In security? Or why not manage a team directly instead of just having a functional reporting role?
In your opinion, why should everyone consider a career at Thales?
At Thales, you can work on so many different topics and use cases involving such a wide range of disciplines. It gives you exposure to best practices early in your career, and it provides a strong framework for learning and growing professionally.