Virginie Mialane, Medical Market Manager – maxon France
Virginie Mialane earned a Master of Physics from Marseille University and furthered her education with an Engineering diploma in Materials and Interfaces from Lyon Engineering School. Her professional career began in November of 1999 when she joined an industrial SME specializing in biocompatible coatings for orthopedic implants.
She joined maxon France in 2003 as a Project Manager developing one of the first motorized implants in the maxon group.
After more than a decade in the R&D department supporting several projects for medical applications, she was promoted to the French Medical Market manager role in January 2018. Her role was to grow the medical business in France and to work closely with the medical BU at maxon’s Headquarters.
Talk about the culture at your company. What makes it inclusive or supportive of women in engineering and automation?
As a female engineer, I realized that technical expertise is well recognized in the scientific world. Rigor and tenacity are also qualities that are sought after in female engineers.
What I like about maxon is the collaboration on innovative projects with added value. We can work with the medical engineers in Switzerland, in Germany or in France to develop the solutions our customers need. Intellectually, this collaboration is very enriching and dynamic.
Describe a recent company project (in which you were involved) that went particularly well. How did you and your team go about ensuring success?
The maxon world meeting was held in France this year. It involved a visit of the factory with several speakers discussing our skills and our capabilities. We worked in small teams to focus on a theme (R&D, manufacturing, supply chain, etc.) then highlighted our competencies with applications that the speakers worked on. This collaboration was very demanding time-wise, but very successful and appreciated by our visitors.
What first drew you to engineering and this industry?
I decided to go into the sciences in high school, no one in my family was a scientist, and I excelled in math and physics! It was exciting to be the first one in my family that was passionate about Physics.
I was confident in my abilities and did not want to limit myself, and I did not want to pursue a more traditional female education.
After 4 years of studying physics at my university learning all the fundamentals, I decided to work towards an applied field and started at the School of Engineering in Lyon, where they offered more industrial studies and where innovations were highlighted.
I wanted to be part of a concrete project where I could see the results without waiting decades.
Describe your biggest career challenge. How did you solve it — or what was the outcome or lesson learned?
Several years ago, I worked on a very customized project with a Chinese team. As I said before, the international part of my job is really something I appreciate a lot and I like developing. For the first time, I worked in collaboration with the Asian team. I struggled to find the best way to work with the team to go further and quicker in the project despite taking several trips and work sessions locally.
It took me several weeks to figure out how to move forward, I needed to abandon my traditional project management ways and listen to and give more advice to the local team working on it, even if it didn’t seem to be going in the right direction at first. In doing so, the results were more apparent.
Sometimes we need to forget our own plan to be more open-minded to be more successful.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
To be an engineer is to have a general scientific background that allows you to be fulfilled in a field you are passionate about. For me, this field is care and designing new Medical devices.
To be a Project Manager in this field, is to support an idea from inception to the mass production of a product that is intended to cure or improve the comfort of patients.
Filed Under: Women in Engineering