Home>Mélanie Le Dain, Class of 2020

15.05.2023

Mélanie Le Dain, Class of 2020

CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?

After taking the baccalauréat ES, I joined Sciences Po's undergraduate college on the Paris campus, where I enjoyed the multi-disciplinary training and wide choice of courses on offer. My third year at the University of Toronto in Canada enabled me to study political science, economics and international relations in greater depth.

I then joined the Master in Public Policy at the School of Public Affairs, in the Economics and Public Policy stream. After a gap year in the fashion and luxury sector, during which I became fascinated by the strategic dimension of economic issues, I did my second year of the Master's programme at the École Spéciale Militaire de Saint-Cyr, as part of the dual degree programme with Sciences Po.> 

At the end of my studies, I joined the General Secretariat for Defence and National Security (SGDSN), where I held a number of positions over a two-year period. Since the beginning of this year, I've been working at the Direction Générale des Entreprises (DGE), part of the Ministère de l'Économie et des Finances et de la Souveraineté Industrielle et Numérique, where I'm in charge of critical metals.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN ASPECTS OF YOUR CURRENT POSITION AS PROJECT MANAGER FOR CRITICAL METALS AT THE DIRECTORATE GENERAL FOR BUSINESS AT THE MINISTRY OF THE ECONOMY, FINANCE AND INDUSTRIAL AND DIGITAL SOVEREIGNTY?

First of all, my current job has a strong European dimension: in particular, I'm responsible for monitoring all European initiatives that may affect companies in the critical metals value chain, and as a 'national expert' I help to determine the positions of the French authorities on these issues. These European initiatives are numerous and are aimed in particular at securing supplies of critical metals at European level, which are taking on considerable importance in the context of the dual ecological and digital transition.

At national level, I'm also responsible for monitoring the supply chain for a particular metal, which adds a more practical dimension to my job and gives me a better grasp of the interests, concerns and constraints of the companies affected by these European laws. 

The back-and-forth between national and European issues, as well as the challenges of designing economic and industrial policy, which is the common thread running through my day-to-day work, is particularly stimulating intellectually.

HOW HAS THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, AND MORE SPECIFICALLY YOUR DUAL DEGREE PROGRAMME WITH SAINT-CYR, CONTRIBUTED TO YOUR CURRENT POSITION?

First of all, the School of Public Affairs' decompartmentalised approach to training helped me to quickly grasp the issues at stake in my current position, as the issue of critical metals is at the crossroads of economics, the ecological transition and international relations. The School of Public Affairs also gave me a deeper understanding of how government works and how public policy is made. Finally, the ability to synthesise information that I developed during my Master's degree is essential for interacting with people who don't always have the time or the means to develop technical expertise on the subject of metals. 

The dual degree with Saint-Cyr also taught me to be very open-minded and to adapt to a wide variety of players (European institutions, central government departments, companies and business federations, local authorities, etc.), to develop interpersonal and human qualities, and to take decisions quickly under tight deadlines.

WHAT WAS YOUR MOTIVATION WHEN YOU APPLIED FOR THIS DUAL DEGREE AND HOW DID IT CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR CAREER PROSPECTS?

With a view to building bridges between economic and strategic issues, I first of all wanted to become acculturated to defence issues and consider new career prospects. This experience made it easier for me to adapt to the SGDSN, where I worked with many military personnel and was able to gain a better understanding of their organisation and way of working. I also wanted to receive more practical human and managerial training, applied to realistic command situations. On a more personal level, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, receive training that combined physical commitment with intellectual demands, and discover perceptions of the world that are specific to those who make what is, by definition, a very strong military commitment.

WOULD YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR A STUDENT OR FUTURE GRADUATE?

Don't hesitate to explore all the areas that interest you and to ask teachers, alumni, associations, etc. for advice on how to build your project. At Sciences Po, you can follow as many academic and professional paths as you wish. Stay true to yourself and feel free to open doors.

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