Laetitia Lançon’s southern lilt immediately gives away her Toulousain background. After finishing high school, she obtained a two-year management assistant degree. “I chose this field because it felt like a good fit. I’m very organised, I like to follow procedures and this degree touched on everything from legal issues to accounting and secretarial duties.” Laetitia turned these skills into a career in which she excelled and which has culminated in this prestigious award.
Building everything from scratch
In 2004, a new position created at INRA’s Toulouse centre offered an opportunity for advancement. “I looked at the various competitive offers and when I read the job description, I knew it was for me.” The CNRGV had just opened and needed a management assistant – a position Laetitia filled and has never left. “In the beginning, we had to build everything from scratch. There was only the director, an IT guy and a technician. I was able to create the entire administrative organisational structure for the lab. It was a very exciting challenge,” she says.
Today, the CNRGV is a unique unit in France, offering services to French and international partners in the field of genomics. Most importantly, it has a large variety of genomic collections of model plants and crops. “You might say we’re the caretakers of INRA’s plant heritage,” she says with a smile.
I'm at the centre of this unit
It is an enormous responsibility, not only for the institute but for Laetitia as well, whose many duties make her an essential jack-of-all-trades for the unit. In addition to administrative, financial and accounting management, she oversees research contracts and billing for laboratory customers. She has even implemented an autonomous revenue management system by using a payment terminal set up at the CNRGV. “It’s specific to the laboratory and is very rare at INRA,” Laetitia says proudly.
She has a lot of other things on her plate as well. She is in charge of the unit’s risk prevention, has been an advisor for the past two years to manage and support change resulting from INRA’s new financial management programme (GéFi 2.0), and is also a quality coordinator and training officer. “What’s great about this job is that I’m never doing just one thing. I’m at the centre of the unit, which I see as being a little like a small family business,” she says.
A dynamic team with ambitious plans
Over the past 15 years, Laetitia has been able to showcase her skills and expertise with the team who supports her every day. “I love working in this small team. We’re an extremely close-knit group – very dynamic and always with lots of ideas.”
Until stepping down this year, the same director oversaw the lab since it was created. “This award recognises the work I’ve accomplished during all these years alongside her. It also honours the entire team. We complement each other and have a trusting relationship. Those are the little things that really make this job so worthwhile,” Laetitia says.
- 2 children (aged 10 and 13)
- From Toulouse, originally from Reunion Island
- 1994: High School degree from Lycée Rive Gauche, Toulouse
- 1997: 2-year diploma, Management Assistant
- 1997–2004: CRITT Bio-Industries – Executive Assistant
- Since 2004: Management Assistant at the CNRGV
- Loves travelling, especially going to Reunion Island to visit her family
- Does gymnastics with an association
- Supporter of the Stade Toulousain rugby club
|Since her director’s departure in July 2019, Laetitia has been involved in the unit’s management board with three other colleagues. Her job is constantly evolving, and it is difficult for her to foresee where she will be in the coming years. But for now, there are still quite a few things to handle at the laboratory before a new director settles in. One thing is certain: “The unit is constantly changing and is always looking for ways to improve,” she says. And with a few big projects under way, Laetitia does not seem to have plans to leave the CNRGV anytime soon. “I feel at home here and my work is respected – why leave?”