PORTRAIT : Laura Villette, ParisTech Director of ParisTech in China
- International cooperation
- Life at ParisTech
Laura Villette took up her position on 2nd September 2019. She succeeds Sylvain Ferrari, who had completed his 5-year term in the role. Based in Shanghai, Laura Villette will work across China to promote and develop projects organised in conjunction with the ParisTech schools.
Tell us a little about your background...
After graduating from Sciences-Po in Paris, I moved to China for a year to study Mandarin at the Beijing Foreign Studies University. I then started up several projects in the food industry, working with Chinese partners in Inner Mongolia, after which I settled in Beijing. Following a brief spell at Leroy Merlin, I worked for just over four years as Chinese Office Manager at the Beijing branch of Prevor, a French company specialising in chemical safety.
It was after that that I moved into the world of training and teaching, having been appointed Vice Director of CFFCME (Franco-Chinese training centre for the energy sector) at the Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, which has three partners in France (Académie de Créteil, Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée, Lycée Maximilien Perret d’Alfortville). I’m very happy that my new role at ParisTech allows me to remain in this sector.
What does your role involve?
My main objective is to develop and maintain partnerships between ParisTech and other universities and institutions – attractive partnerships which reflect both the ambitions of our Chinese counterparts and the standards of excellence which are characteristic of French schools. I also want to reinforce links not only with French companies operating in China, but also with Chinese companies in order to address their specific training requirements.
Another aspect of my role will involve consolidating the ParisTech network in China and raising its profile within local networks (trade associations, networks of Chinese graduates returning from overseas, etc.) Last but not least, I will be supporting the Franco-Chinese institutes (SPEIT, BUCT-Paris Curie Engineering School, ICARE) which act as “laboratories” for joint Franco-Chinese projects, and assisting the ParisTech schools in their bilateral relations with their Chinese partners.
How will you accomplish all of this?
The position is based in Shanghai, which is where ParisTech has its China office, and I will be working with a Chinese colleague, Yuanyuan Shen, who will help with the communications side of things, and also with organising joint recruitment actions.
How would you say ParisTech supports its schools as regards their international strategy?
As a group, the schools are more visible. Sharing resources (human, financial, etc.) means that we can undertake projects on a larger scale and work more efficiently.
Chinese students who come to study in France do of course choose one particular school, but combining our communication efforts allows us to target recruitment more effectively in order to find exactly the right students for each school.
How is ParisTech perceived in China?
The Chinese students that I’ve talked to are really pleased to have the opportunity to study in France and learn our language. The Grandes Écoles system and our engineering programmes are very different to the courses available in China.
I’m especially interested in how the ParisTech schools are perceived in China not just by Chinese students, but also by our partners and local companies. We will be refining the brand recognition survey launched by ParisTech to address the Chinese audience more directly. The results are due to be published by the end of the year.