After 12 years in finance, including nine years with VINCI Energies, Anaïs Boitel switched tracks to work in the field as a responsable d’affaires at Omexom RE Export. VINCI Energies has actively supported this career change.
A person’s first professional experience is often pivotal and can even determine their future. This was the case for Anaïs Boitel. During her first-year placement at the INSEEC School of Business and Economics, she discovered the world of work on an overseas assignment in Ghana with an engineering consultancy. She was 19 years old.
“I was the assistant project lead on a large-scale project for two dams located six hours by road from Ghana’s second city of Kumasi,” she recalls. “I have wonderful memories of that first experience of an international base camp; I discovered a career and had some fantastic experiences, from our inter-team badminton games to the times our project teams took me along to the dam construction sites. Those seven weeks in Ghana convinced me that my future had to have an international dimension.”
Having completed her studies with a master’s in financial engineering, Anaïs Boitel added to her work placements and training at Alstom Transport with a spell in London as a Project & Reporting Controller. But due to restructuring, the group was unable to offer her a permanent contract. She then connected with the head of VINCI Energies Power System, who encouraged her to join VINCI Energies to get things moving.
She was there only briefly, due to a post becoming available at Cegelec SAS, a VINCI Energies business unit in the Saint Denis area of Paris. While there, Anaïs Boitel worked on the Flamanville EPR reactor and a €116 million thermal power plant project in Algeria, where she managed finance and human resources for the permanent facility.
Hailing originally from Marseille, Anaïs Boitel later requested a transfer back to the South of France. In 2018, she joined Omexom RE Solar in Montpellier to work on export contracts. “Of the many accounts I managed, I found one in Ougadougou, Burkina Faso, for construction of a 33 MWp solar power plant, particularly rewarding. I had to adapt to Burkina Faso’s tax rules, and I took trips there to measure the impact of a given investment on local communities. I also saw that VINCI Energies was determined to help its local employees enhance their skills.”
“I can’t wait to manage a project and work in the field”
Two years later, occasional work trips abroad gave way to the full expatriate experience. VINCI Energies offered Anaïs Boitel the post of administrative and financial manager at its newly created organisation in Athens. “It was a huge challenge to take the job, which covered not just finance and HR, but also legal and computing aspects,” she says. “It was a very intense time, during which I had to juggle relocating and starting a new job with my actual HR and financial management duties during the lockdown period from November 2020 to May 2021. But I did receive support from the financial director of my division in France. And Greece is a wonderful country!”
From finance to operations
Anaïs Boitel’s experience in Greece allowed her grow in confidence and reconsider her future. “I could see myself eventually taking an operational role, managing a major project or a business unit. But never having studied as an engineer, I felt it was a distant possibility.” But this was not a view shared by her former business unit manager at Cegelec SAS, who had since taken over at Cegelec Renewable Energies, when she told him of this ambition over a lunch in Paris. “There and then, he encouraged me and assured me that it was possible. A few months later, I was offered a responsable d’affaires position at Omexom RE Export, based in Montpellier.”
And so, since February 2023, she has been immersed in her new role as a responsible d’affaires. Thanks to support and advice from the solar business manager with whom she shares an office, she is gradually getting to grips with her role, which not only involves interfacing with customers, but also managing relations with suppliers, subcontractors and site supervisors. “I have to manage contracts, scheduling and safety issues, to solve problems and be able to create a project team dynamic,” she explains.
Anaïs Boitel is currently working on two bid submissions for solar power plant projects in Sweden (a 100 MWp site) and the United Kingdom (29 MWp). “We’re working on these dossiers in partnership with local Omexom businesses. I’ve learned a huge amount about electrical engineering, how a solar power plant works, the challenges involved, etc. I can’t wait to work on a project and see it taking shape in the field.” Over the coming years, her aim is to complete projects with different unique features and ultimately, to manage an activity or business unit, “To manage every aspect of a dossier, have a global vision and develop what is required in line with our business strategy.”