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A series of portraits of VINCI Energies employees. They hail from a whole range of backgrounds and personal career paths, and work around the world in one of the multiple business activities that allow VINCI Energies to prosper.

Laurence Ketels, 28, is a business analyst at Actemium. From analysing client expectations to developing and implementing turnkey solutions, she manages strategic projects for manufacturers from start to finish.

Word of mouth is often a good thing. This became clear to Laurence Ketels at the end of her bioscience engineering course at Ghent University in Belgium. “I was good at science but wasn’t too sure which profession to go into, so I chose an engineering degree which has the advantage of offering a wide range of opportunities,” she explains. “Two friends who did the same course as me and who had recently joined VINCI Energies spoke very highly of the company – the working conditions, support, relationships between employees, and so on.”

At a careers fair held in 2019 by her university a few months before the end of her studies, Laurence made her way directly to the Actemium and VINCI Energies stand. They hit it off. Following several interviews and tests, Laurence was offered a business analyst position at Actemium the following autumn. “In addition to the position itself, what convinced me was the possibility to change departments or even business lines due to the size of the company,” she states.

Ongoing training

After more than three years at Actemium Agri Aalter, Laurence Ketels is still sure she made the right decision. “I’m really happy in my work. It offers a social aspect through client contact, a technical aspect related to my core business activity, and finally satisfaction from helping clients solve their problems.” She says that another advantage is the opportunity for continuous learning. “Technology changes very quickly so you have to keep updating your skillset. For example, with programming, I learnt basic skills at university, but the in-house training programmes here quickly enabled me to improve them.”

Laurence appreciates the fact that the company provides not just technical training but also the option, twice a year, to choose a non-work-related learning programme. She has already taken part in refresher driving training and a stress management course (“which is useful for work and my personal life”), and she is due to boost her skills in French for her own benefit and so that she can communicate with her client, Avril.

This French agricultural group is one of the main accounts managed by the team of ten or so people in which Laurence works, whose job is to design and implement Centralised Manufacturing Execution Systems (CMES).

“Technology changes very quickly. You have to keep updating your skillset.”

“I’m currently working on the CMES for a new plant belonging to Belgian company Arvesta in Izegem, West Flanders, says Laurence. “The project is very interesting as it involves developing a software programme intended to connect several production sites with different standards and rules that we will need to harmonise.”

Laurence knows the client well. “Arvesta was my first big client when I arrived at Actemium. In 2021, I faced quite a challenge: to deliver a plant project while working alone due to lockdown and at a time when I was just starting out in the company. It wasn’t easy, but I made it with the team’s support. And the client was very satisfied. I’m very proud of that.”

Solidarity and support

As well as the Izegem project, the business analyst is responsible for managing another large-scale scheme for the Vanden Avenne Group. As part of this scheme, she and her colleagues will need to set up a Transport Management System (TMS) by the end of 2024. Designed to be installed in two of the Belgian group’s plants, it aims to optimise truck journeys and loading methods. “This kind of tool helps to improve delivery times and to reduce the client’s environmental impact by cutting fuel consumption,” highlights Laurence Ketels.

Having just graduated, the young engineer had to find her place in a male-only team. Today, she believes that she has gained a lot of self-confidence. “I feel more independent, I don’t hesitate to take responsibility and I’m capable of working from home without feeling stressed anymore. The support I’ve received from my manager and team has helped me achieve that. In fact, solidarity and support are among the company’s strengths,” says Laurence. In turn, she shares her love for learning and passing on skills in her personal life by giving weekly hip-hop classes to 6- to 10-year-olds.



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