“I’m in the right place”

"I'm in the right place"

24 June 2020
datascientist digital Engineer engineering
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Italian by birth, Paolo Minelli has joined the Assystem team in France last February. His role: managing the data-scientist team and contributing to improve the performance of the group’s projects. A “very rewarding” mission in his eyes.

Can you introduce yourself in a few words?

I’m 31 years old. I’m from Bergamo in Italy. I did a doctorate in nuclear engineering at MIT in Boston. Five unforgettable years of my life where I had the opportunity to live in a multicultural, dynamic and inspiring environment, in contact with people who are passionate about what they do. There, after a few months devoted to traditional nuclear engineering topics, I decided to dedicate my thesis to explore why some nuclear projects (and other large-scale projects in general) may be delayed and therefore increase the costs initially planned.

After graduation, I decided to move to France. This is how I was able to attend the last World Nuclear Exhibition in 2018. I then became aware of Assystem for the first time, and was contacted a short time later to join the company.

Why did you choose to work in France?

I spent five years in the United States, but I feel deeply European. So, I first chose to come back to Europe where my family lives. And France had everything to attract me. I spent the last ten years of my life specialising in nuclear engineering and when you’re an engineer in this field, France is a reference. Moreover, I grew up in northern Italy, more precisely in the Alps, so I don’t see huge difference between these two countries. Lifestyles and cultures are quite similar and, moreover, Paris is a fantastic city! Finally, living and working in France makes me feel at home.

Can you describe your missions?

I am today manager of the Assystem data science team. Digital technologies are rejuvenating the way projects are developed and thus changing the way project management and engineering can be carried out. Assystem has therefore launched an initiative called “Engineering Powered By Digital” to improve the competitiveness of the services it offers, the performance of project delivery and to achieve an optimal result within the complexity of the environment.

What do you like most about your job?

What I like most is the personal and technical exchanges with the 20 data-scientists on my team. They are brilliant and come from different technical and cultural backgrounds, which is a great asset to me. Data science requires a combination of skills, from computer science to mathematics to statistics. In our context, a good dose of project engineering and understanding complex systems is also required. I’m learning a lot every day. It’s really rewarding to benefit from each person’s experience to find the right approach to solve a problem in a limited time frame. We must recognize that what we are doing has a real and measurable effect on the business of Assystem and our customers.

How do you work with your teams?

We work in very close contact at each stage of a file’s progress. Working with a mixed team of young and experienced people has real advantages on a daily basis. They are really responsive, flexible and agile.

I have especially noticed this during the health crisis when the Assystem teams were mobilised to help deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. A challenge was organised on Kaggle, a data platform for the scientific community to develop data mining tools to help researchers find answers to priority health questions related to the coronavirus. So I decided to take my team on board. It was a question of bringing a social value but to also involve the team in a different field and to explore the use of our techniques in a very specific health context.

What are the skills required by your job?

My job requires a combination of technical and non-technical skills, which makes it very interesting. The team works at the intersection of mathematics, statistics, computer science, complex systems and data visualization to deliver high value-added projects. My role is to ensure that this is done smoothly and efficiently, in order to answer questions and solve problems that are relevant to the business of Assystem and its clients.

Why did you choose to work at Assystem?

I think that if you want to make changes using digital in traditionally slow-moving industries, such as nuclear or transport, the best place to do it is a large company because it has a lot of resources and connections.

In addition, during my PhD years, I focused on understanding why mega-projects are often characterised by significant delays and cost overruns. Joining Assystem has allowed me to approach these issues from a more concrete angle, as complex engineering and project management are Assystem’s core activities. It makes me feel like I’m in the right place.

What makes being an engineer at Assystem a unique experience?

Assystem is a major player in my field of expertise: nuclear power. Working for this group allows me to be in close contact with the main players in the market. The environment is dynamic, cooperative and stimulating, all at the same time. Managers allow you to explore new ideas and care about your success. Assystem is a company of more than 5800 employees with numerous offices in more than 16 countries around the world. It is a network that constitutes an enormous strength, both on a personal and professional level.

 

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