‘Passion, not just investment, drives innovation’

Chitra Narayanan | Updated on September 12, 2018 Published on September 12, 2018

Emmanuel de Roquefeuil

Emmanuel de Roquefeuil, VP and Country Director India for Thales, shares insights

It’s been just a year-and-a-half since Emmanuel de Roquefeuil took over as VP and Country Director India for Thales, the French MNC that provides solutions to defence, aerospace and transportation industries. De Roqufeuil, who has spent 27 years with Thales, is well-positioned to lead the ‘make in India and export from India’ thrust of the company, which incidentally has been present in the country since 1953. He holds a Masters in Public Law and Industrial Strategy in Defence and has majored in Missiles Space, and is also armed with an MBA from Insead. His take on:

Taking charge in India – was it a culture shock? Any learnings?

In my previous roles at Thales, I frequently visited the country. Thales is present in 56 countries worldwide and working for a global organisation gives you tremendous opportunities and exposure to various work cultures. I have been familiar with working with our Indian colleagues because of the fantastic diversity in work cultures that we have in Thales. I am still overwhelmed with the vibrancy India offers. Learnings come hand in hand with such rapid growth, so it’s difficult for me to handpick one. I have the privilege of working with a talented set of colleagues, and the teamwork displayed at work is fabulous. It is amazing to see the hard work and determination that my team shows while handling any complex situation.

Driving innovation at Thales

We invest heavily in innovation: more than 25,000 Thales employees world over are directly involved in research and technology. What is unique at Thales is that innovation is not driven by investment alone. It’s driven by passion — a passion for discovering new ways to step up to the challenges of modern society.

We have a number of initiatives keeping innovation at the centre of things. Across the world, Thales supports various start-ups that work towards innovation in the industry. We also have a number of joint research labs with institutional partners and dedicated research and engineering centres that work towards innovation. Our partnerships with academic institutions like IIT Delhi, IIT Bombay, IIT Madras and IISc Bangalore are aimed at encouraging innovation. We also recently launched our Digital factory in Paris and inaugurated innovation hubs in Singapore and China. These hubs promote customer-focused innovation.

Thales’ hiring outlook for the year

Our current footprint includes 1,500 people working directly with Thales as well as indirectly through supply chain partnerships built with Indian companies. We plan to triple this number in the next 3-5 years with the development of capabilities for local engineering, local partners and procurement from India. We are looking forward to hiring employees for high-skilled jobs to support our civil and defence businesses.

Taking care of the health and well-being of employees

When Delhi-NCR was grappling with hazardous levels of air quality, we distributed anti-pollution masks to all our employees while offering flexible working hours and the option to work from home.

Our office has air-purifiers installed as part of our overall approach towards the health and well-being of our employees. We also encourage gaming sessions, motivational and health talks where we call experts from different fields to educate our employees.

Any management mantras

I don’t really swear by one mantra, but I like to follow some basic management principles like the importance of teamwork, establishing trust and offering independence.

Favourite business reads

Some of my favourite books include The Lean Startup by Dan Heath, Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff, Reinventing Organisations by Fredric Laloux and also Capital by Rana Dasgupta.

Unwinding from work

For me, a good game of tennis is a good way to unwind. I also love exploring India with my wife whenever I get a chance to travel. The varied cultures, cuisines and terrains enchant me.

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Published on September 12, 2018
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