Tony Brando, Class of 2019
- Tony Brando © Max Bouteille
CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND?
I believe I am part of the panel of "atypical profiles" to whom Sciences Po gives a chance every year. At a very young age, I worked in various jobs - store clerk, cleaner, stock handler, waiter - in parallel with my schooling. I applied to Sciences Po one year after I graduated from high school and dropped out of law school which, in many ways, didn't suit me when I was 18 years old. I arrived in Paris in 2014 and the cost of living in Paris pushed me to do various internships in parallel with my studies. I started with an internship at the Sciences Po Alumni Association where I was able to learn codes that were foreign to me and develop my first skills in networking and communication. I was then lucky enough to be able to work in structures where innovation was at the heart of the design process. First of all, the Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants d'entreprise - Centre for Young Business Leaders - (CJD) where we observed the projects of inspiring and committed entrepreneurs. Later, I joined Lab Pareto where I was leading a project aimed at improving relations between large groups and VSE/SMEs with the goal of creating jobs in the different regions of France. Finally, I interned at the start-up "Fempo", created by two former students of the school, which marketed the first French menstrual underwear.
After Sciences Po undergraduate studies ("Collège Universitaire"), I chose the Master in Public Policy because the public sector seemed to be in a state of reorganization and restructuring, and this would allow me to be in a strategic position to move freely within the field. I wanted to do my second year of the Master's degree in the apprenticeship program and I was hired by the Direction Interministérielle de la Transformation Publique (DITP) as Public Innovation Project Manager. During this year, which was a key year for me, I was able to take responsibility for projects that aimed to "break out of the silos of the Administration" and to lead the "Future Publics" community, ie. the community of public innovators.
Following this experience, I was admitted to the "Egalité des chances" (Equal Opportunities) preparatory class at ENA (CP'ENA) where I was able to deepen my knowledge of French administration and obtain a Master's degree in "Public Administration" from the University of Paris-1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. During this year, I also carried out consulting missions for public services and I was contacted to speak at seminars on public innovation at the ENA and within several Regional Institutes of Administration (IRA).
After exploring the field of Administration and being driven by a real desire to transform the way public policies are conceived, I wanted to discover politics from the inside (because politicians take the final decisions at the end) and I was recruited by the Deputy and former Secretary of State for Digital Policy, Mounir Mahjoubi, as a technical advisor on subjects of participatory democracy.
WHAT WERE THE MAIN STAGES IN THE CONSTRUCTION OF YOUR PROFESSIONAL PROJECT?
My first professional experiences in jobs far removed from what I am currently doing have been fundamental for me. Being at the end of the management chain allowed me to understand the behaviors and processes that lead a team towards the same goal...or, on the contrary, that develop a feeling of mistrust and favor avoidance strategies. My schooling at Sciences Po opened me up to the world and to disciplines that I would never have explored. It helped me understand that my professional project would take place in the public sector and that it would be driven by a desire to innovate and "do things differently," particularly on subjects on which public policy has stumbled for decades. My year in the apprenticeship program was also very important in my career because it allowed me to develop expertise and to meet inspiring and unique personalities with whom I am still collaborating today.
HOW DID THE RECRUITMENT PROCESS FOR DEPUTY MOUNIR MAHJOUBI GO AND WHAT ARE THE MAIN CHARACTERISTICS OF YOUR POSITION AS TECHNICAL ADVISOR TODAY?
At first, I simply sent an application following a LinkedIn post, but there were more than 500 candidates, so I wasn't too hopeful. Thanks to my internship at Sciences Po Alumni, I had been able to exchange with the Deputy for an article a few years ago and I took the liberty of sending him a short email to explain my strong motivation to join him. I then wrote a more formal cover letter before being contacted. I had a first interview of more than an hour with the Deputy and then a technical interview with his collaborator. Finally, I had a final interview with my employer to put me in a professional situation.
The Deputy recruited me to create bridges between our national action and the reality of the inhabitants of Paris's 19th arrondissement, who we try to represent and support as best as we can in their daily struggles. I feel like I change jobs every week! Some weeks are fully dedicated to solving the difficulties of the district, as was the case in December following a major internet failure in some neighborhoods. During the November lockdown, we launched a participative platform to help the inhabitants to better live through the lockdown by providing them with information from the "last meter", verified by us, regarding the Covid test procedures in the 19th arrondissement's laboratories or the bookstores that offered click and collect. We also produce parliamentary notes to shed light on the debate on digital transformation issues and lead a group of MPs looking for levers to spread "Sustainable Eating" in France, i.e. food that is respectful of the planet, of farmers and of the health of individuals. My work is thus characterized by flexibility: you have to be able to do everything, be able to understand the CAP reform, while organizing a virtual parliamentary meeting every week on social networks. I have learned a lot.
WHAT HAVE BEEN THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF YOUR STUDIES AT THE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS TO THE POSITION YOU HOLD TODAY?
The School of Public Affairs has allowed me to acquire theoretical skills and a transdisciplinary approach that are essential to my current job. I use my courses in public law, political economy and public finance as much as those in the "Apprenticeship" year, in which I learned how to produce quality communication materials. Courses on major digital transformations (I am thinking of Gilles Babinet's or Barbara Ubaldi's Open Government course) are very useful to me in all my work on these subjects.
My schooling at Sciences Po has above all stimulated my curiosity, which today allows me to find resources in a myriad of disciplines. My apprenticeship year also led me to develop the interpersonal skills and adaptability that make me the young professional that I am. I would also like to mention the Sociology of Organizations seminar given by Henri Bergeron, which was a real revelation for me. It helps me enormously today to better understand power games and strategies within organizations. I mobilize this knowledge in all my speeches within the IRAs (instituts Régionaux d'Administration) in order to provide levers for change management to the future executives of the French state.
WOULD YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR A STUDENT WHO WISHES TO WORK IN FRENCH PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS?
Above all, don't limit yourself to theoretical knowledge as it will not be sufficient in your future functions. The public service is reinventing itself and is recruiting more and more profiles capable of transforming concepts and ideas into operational realities. Be curious and don't hesitate to discover sectors or occupations that seem at first glance to be far removed from your professional project. Then, never consider your knowledge as acquired and definitive. The users of the devices you will create often have keys to improve them and enable them to achieve their goals in a constantly changing society. Finally, read some articles by the sociologist of organizations Michel Crozier! It's all there! Both the reasons for the ills of our institutions and their remedies.