'Crossing the ramp' – Frédéric Le Gall on great content, new media and how to satisfy ESA’s many audiences
Why and how did you join ESA?
After having spent two years working in an international environment in Sweden, I realised how much I wanted to continue my 'working life' within an international organisation.
I happened to come across the ESA Young Graduate Trainee (YGT) programme and joined the Agency in 2000 as a YGT within the Earth Observation Directorate, where I developed a communication plan for ESA’s Earth Observation activities.
I considered my one year as a YGT to be a great opportunity for me in order to see whether the working environment at ESA was to my liking. And indeed it was, as I am now in my 12th year working for the Agency.
What did you study and what did you have to learn on the job?
I studied agricultural engineering and also attended the Marseille Business School where I specialised in 'Marketing and Communication for Food Distribution'. Therefore, I am what the French call typically a "technical-commercial engineer".
In order to make my expertise in communication and marketing - so to say - 'fruitful' for ESA, I had of course to get deeply familiar with the topic of Earth Observation. Besides this, I also had to understand the general way of working of an inter-governmental organisation like ESA.
What do you like about the working atmosphere within ESA?
Definitively working with 19 different nationalities. I personally believe that a cross culture working environment is a great enrichment, and I feel very privileged to experience that on a daily basis.
What is particularly interesting about your work and what are your current projects?
The most interesting part of my work is certainly the fact that there is almost no such thing as a “daily routine”. I’m permanently setting up and fostering new projects, and I like the challenge to get it all achieved on time and bring big projects to a successful end.
Actually, my biggest current project is to launch the new ESA Web Portal which will give ESA a very modern new "face" and is going to satisfy as many expectations of our users as possible. There will be a lot of up to date new multimedia features, with which we’ll present our key messages of the importance of European space activities to the general public. It’s all about getting our strong and innovative content "across the ramp" to our audience through interesting new ways.
Do you have to travel much for your job?
In the past I had to. But over the last years I have become more and more occupied with staff and managerial tasks, which means that my team members are travelling a lot more than I currently do.
How about your work-life balance? What are your 'outside work' hobbies?
I’m quite satisfied with my work –life balance. There are, of course, peak periods and many deadlines in our job, but it works out well. I also believe that it is the personal responsibility of everyone to organise this essential balance smoothly.
For my part, I am married and have two wonderful daughters, a big house and a huge garden – actually gardening is also a big part of my life - so I do not get time to get annoyed. But again, like for anything it is also a question of organisation and decision.
What recommendations can you give to students/young graduates if they are interested in working for ESA?
Be ready to work with people who do not have the same cultural references like you.Try it, it is worth it!