Christel Heydemann, a leading woman at Orange

In Rueil-Malmaison (Hauts-de-Seine), March 16, 2021.

It is not a left arm in a sling, memory of a bad fall in winter sports, which risks hindering his taking up his duties. Monday April 4, Christel Heydemann becomes CEO of Orange in place of Stéphane Richard, pushed out by the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, after his conviction on appeal, in November 2021, in the Tapie case. . “Always Going”as her relatives describe her, the one who will be the second woman at this level of responsibility in the entire CAC 40, with Catherine MacGregor at Engie, is determined to imprint her style: energetic and confident.

“It’s obviously a big change and there’s impatience to start. But above all, I see a form of natural continuity in taking up the post., confides the interested party. Becoming the boss of a CAC 40 group was neither a dream nor the objective of a calculated career plan, she promises. However, even if his appointment, pushed by Mr. The Mayor, surprised, the trajectory of Mme Heydemann seemed to lead her, as a matter of course, to occupy this position.

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Everything seems simple for her. In 1994, at the age of 20, after a scientific baccalaureate with honors, she was the first woman in the preparatory class of the Lycée d’Orsay (Essonne) to join Polytechnique. “My mother was a university professor in mathematics. I had an aptitude for science”, minimizes today the one who wanted to become an engineer, like her father, centralien. Five years later, in 1999, as soon as she graduated from Ponts et Chaussées, and after a brief stint at the Boston Consulting Group, she joined Alcatel, then a flagship of French industry, before its merger with the American Lucent.

Its management detects its ” high potential “, also spotted by the Young Global Leaders program of the Davos Forum, to which her husband also belongs, André Loesekrug-Pietri, president of the Joint European Disruptive Initiative, a European agency associating research centers, start-ups and large groups, and columnist , since February, in the morning of Europe 1. Registered in an internal training plan intended to make emerge the future leaders of Alcatel-Lucent, Christel Heydemann connects the stations: finances, strategy and especially sales management. Objective: to test it in direct contact with customers. She spent two years in California to manage an important agreement with the HP computer group.

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This last contract is a failure, but these successive functions demonstrate “his ability to get involved in his files and his always positive state of mind”, remembers Didier Baichère, former HRD France of Alcatel-Lucent, now LRM deputy for Yvelines, and who shared with her the “high potential” training. In 2011, when she was only 36 years old, the general manager of Alcatel-Lucent, the Dutchman Ben Verwaayen, propelled her to the global management of human resources of the telecom equipment manufacturer, making her the youngest of executive committees of CAC 40 companies. Eleven years later, at Orange, Mme Heydemann becomes, at 47 and a half, the youngest boss of major French groups.

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