3 questions for… Julie Le Cardinal, Professor at CentraleSupélec

Can you tell us more about the role CentraleSupélec is playing in this transatlantic project?

Having met Manon Pilon in Montreal last February, and once I started mentoring her through WIF, the idea of setting up a Derme&Co laboratory in France soon became a central issue. As I’m used to studying such challenges on the various programs I lead at CentraleSupélec, I proposed the project as a case study on the Industrial Engineering option in the last year of the school’s engineering program. Since September, 5 students have been working on this project, called “Feasibility study on setting up a plant extraction laboratory for the cosmetic industry”.

How is the study being conducted?

It’s a 6-month project over which the students will address the all major issues enabling them to study the feasibility of the project and build a business plan. They’re conducting an in-depth study of the market, the competition, costs, and regulatory constraints. Thanks to the WIF’s transatlantic program, the students were able to meet Manon in Montreal and agree on the goals of the study. This March, at the end of the project, they will present their findings and deliverables during their viva. They will say whether or not – from the data they’ve collected – the project to build a lab is achievable, and how.

What aspect of Manon Pilon’s project especially attracted you and persuaded you to include it in your academic program?

Several features convinced me to have the project studied by a team of CentraleSupélec students.
The first is obviously that it’s run by a woman entrepreneur. Thanks to WIF,we often have the opportunity to support mentees at the critical stages of their careers, and this is the case for Manon. This also makes it an especially interesting use case to study on an academic program. I also find it praiseworthy that a Canadian SME wants to set up in France and invest in French industry. Finally, the project requires strategic and systemic analytical skills – that my students have developed – to offer the company leader a valuable decision-making tool.