Dr Julie Rosier
Julie Rosier was the very first person I interviewed for this blog. It was during last week's Eurosatory exhibition of land and air-land systems at Villepinte, just north of Paris, so she was busy, but nevertheless seemed more than happy to answer my questions whilst keeping an eye on one of her team members fixing some equipment on the stand. She holds a doctorate in the treatment of audio signals. She laughed when I asked her if she even knew such a thing existed when she was still at school and replied “of course not!”
Like most school-leavers, Julie was completely unaware then that her current job even existed. She was passionate about music so thought she'd like to be a sound engineer. She joined the science stream at school and after gaining her science baccalaureate she studied maths and physics at university, realising along the way that what she was really interested in was acoustics. So, between 1999 and 2003 she worked on her doctoral thesis. Smiling at my blank look when she told me its official title: “Estimating the fundamental multiple frequencies to separate speech and music signals”, she explained that “it's basically unmixing. Whereas a DJ mixes sounds, I was interested in separating them out.” But, in fact, she discovered that what she found most interesting was the actual measuring of sound and she realised that fundamental research was too specific for her.
So instead of continuing with basic research, she turned to industry, working for Sagem mobile phones for two years before joining Elno in January 2009.
This 85-person French company has made a name for itself as a specialist developer and manufacturer of electro-acoustic and communication equipment such as headsets, microphones, intercom, public address systems and on-board passenger information systems. It has notably developed “bone conduction” technology using the phenomenon of sound reaching the inner ear via the bones of the skull. This enables soldiers in critical situations to “hear” through their bone conduction headphones whilst leaving their actual ear unencumbered so that they can hear everything in their immediate environment.
Julie Rosier's job at the head of a team of five men is to invent and develop new communication systems in severe environments. She currently manages two major projects: one is studying and developing headgear based on the bone conduction technology described above, and the other is developing microphones to put inside oxygen masks for pilots. Her job involves managing the team, planning everybody's tasks, dealing with the budget, managing the risks, dealing with getting the product certified and keeping an eye on what other companies in the field are doing. In parallel she also develops headgear and microphones for use in the security and transport sectors.
In answer to my question as to whether she feels her gender has in any way hindered her professional career, she laughed frankly and said “it's hard for me to know whether any issues I may have had were due to my gender or my skin colour!” She told me her ex-husband accused her of being too involved in her career and spending too much time at work. So today she is raising their two daughters by herself, “or rather, with an enormous amount of help from my mother,” she giggled.
And I think you'll see from other portraits, which I'll publish over the coming weeks and months, that mothers play a very important role in their daughters' careers...