As part of Criteo’s Open Path Program, Julien mentored Céline who had quite an interesting and atypical background. Welcoming a greater diversity of backgrounds is key according to Julien, who kindly shared a few insights on how to improve onboarding approaches and ensure we truly set everyone up for success.
Could you tell us about your background and current responsibilities here at Criteo?
Julien: I have been working in the digital advertising industry for over 20 years, managing projects ranging from web marketing operation optimization and product strategy definition to change management with an emphasis on quality and innovation for big companies with an international scope. Over the past six years, I have been leading Criteo's Infrastructure Capacity planning. I joined the company in 2011 to drive the advertising platform as a Product Manager, which led me to work on the global expansion of our business and to collaborate with the infrastructure department before joining the R&D department.
Why is fostering more diversity in tech so important today?
J: Being kind of an atypical profile myself, I have always advocated for more diversity in the workplace and beyond. I firmly believe we need more women in tech, so I was thrilled to welcome an apprentice from Ada Tech School this year. Diversity of backgrounds is essential to bring in new opinions, different mindsets, and ways of thinking to innovate. It also makes us question how we do things and challenge existing positions.
Talking about Criteo's Open Path Program, how was your experience as a mentor?
J: Compared to other apprenticeship programs, it required more flexibility, preparation and follow-up throughout the year. The onboarding program to support Céline's growth had to be quite thorough, so we had to spend time outside the team to ensure we set her up for success. Being part of a pilot program like Open Path allowed me to share input to help improve the onboarding process, set milestones, and share feedback in the future.
In your opinion, why do companies like Criteo need to develop such programs?
J: It is essential, especially in an environment as competitive as the tech industry. It supports our effort toward more diversity, helping us reach other profiles and create new career development opportunities internally.
What were the main challenges when welcoming Céline to the team?
J: From my perspective, the biggest challenge was creating an efficient support process for Céline. Though we are used to onboarding apprentices and having senior team members mentoring in our team, the approach was way more ambitious this time. To welcome Céline in the right conditions, we had to clearly define in advance the skills she would need to acquire, identify the right pace, workflow, etc.
Which memory or key learning will you keep from this experience?
J: Just a few weeks after Céline joined the team, she started to work on implementing features on one of our web apps. So, we had a knowledge-sharing session to give her the full picture, introducing her to the UI and mock-up views. As it turned out, Céline was very comfortable with mock-ups, UI, and UX, and her fresh eye helped us challenge what was already in place and suggest alternative mock-ups. It allowed me to grasp skills I was not expecting from her. It was a nice turn of events that I hope to replicate.
Would you like to welcome another apprentice with an atypical background? If yes, what would you do differently?
J: Of course! Even though there was a lot for Céline to take in when she first joined, she proved to be quite resourceful and adaptable, so we were confident that she would gain autonomy quickly. However, it turned out she would have needed more support from us sometimes. In the future, I will make sure that as a team, we are proactive and focused on mentoring and upskilling apprentices from day one.
What would you advise Céline for her next adventure?
J: Céline has been a journalist before shifting her career and becoming a developer. It takes courage to go down that road, and we saw how brave she was throughout her apprenticeship. For her next adventure, I would advise her never to forget that she was right to take that leap. When it comes to your career, remember that you are in the driver's seat, not others.
Would you like to add anything?
J: Only say that I am very proud Criteo is setting up such programs and to be a part of it.
From the inside
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