Francis Bouchard

Nationality: French
City, country: Toulouse, France
Study programme, final degree: Electrical Engineering – Computer Engineering /Diplom
Year of graduation: 1999
Employer and position: Airbus in Toulouse – Head of A350 Cabin & Cargo Chief Engineering

You are president of our alumni chapter in Toulouse, what was it about this position that appealed to you?
I am very proud to have founded this new chapter in Toulouse together with the TUHH alumni team. Our common goal is to expand the international alumni network and strengthen the links between the alumni in south-west France and TUHH. I already experienced this natural link between Toulouse and Hamburg on a daily basis at Airbus, one of the largest employers of TUHH graduates. Many Germans live in Toulouse and the Airbus shuttle provides connections between the two locations every day. I am looking forward to the new task.

Is there an unforgettable experience you had at TUHH that really stands out?
I have great memories! We were a small group from all over the world and used to revise for exams together in the library. Back then, we discovered
and marvelled at the wonders of the Internet at the SUN workstations, as we got the opportunity to see the first live images of Mars Pathfinder in
high resolution. It was fun to set up Sprachen AG with some friends, which was a tool for organising English, French and Chinese lessons. Is this tool still being used?
The lectures were all in German, which was not so easy at the beginning. I couldn’t understand a word of the microelectronics lectures delivered by the famous Saxon professor Reinhold Paul! Thankfully my German friends really helped me out. I’d like to take the opportunity today to thank both them and Professor Otto Lange, who really gave me a lot of confidence.

What’s the best thing about your job?
Being responsible for leading the development of the Airbus A350 passenger cabin. This cabin has to be capable of carrying even more passengers whilst still offering the same level of comfort and also being more lightweight. Bringing this multimillion-euro project together with so many European engineers poses a real challenge. However, I’m often able to provide assistance when it comes to communication between different cultures. Engineers usually come up with good ideas but have difficulties selling these ideas to people in management positions in other countries, sometimes not considering the economic challenges to the necessary extent. My job is to decide which ideas make sense so that we can convince people in management positions that they are economically viable and meet  customer expectations too.

What is your typical working day like?
During a typical working day, I spend six to eight hours in Webex and at meetings with engineers. I also receive about a hundred emails, and have to quickly decide what is important and what can be replied to at a later stage or given to somebody else to handle. I fly to Hamburg twice a month and occasionally have to visit customers (airlines) and suppliers.
The skills I rely on most are good communication and analytical skills, as well as resilience and perseverance.

I’d like to spend a day in the shoes of …
…my CEO Tom Enders.

If you met an omniscient researcher from the future, what would you ask them?
Where does the development of artificial intelligence take us? What are human beings doing in a world full of autonomous robots? How can we
stop global warming whilst satisfying humanity’s needs for greater prosperity and mobility at the same time?

If I were president of the TUHH …
I would carry out research on AI applications, the battery of the future, how to recycle it and energy networks. I would also like to build up the links with European (and especially French) universities. By working together, we can make significant progress and set high standards.