Anne-Claire Martin de Cantilly leads an international career in sustainability. She is currently working as a Project Manager in Supply Chain at Northvolt in Sweden. Discover her path.
Written on 04 May 2021.
I always thought it would be exciting to have experiences abroad and meet different cultures. I started my studies with a Bachelor in Management and Economics at Catholic University of Lille and already back then, I have had the chance to spend my second academic year at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Then I decided to continue with a Master’s programme at EDHEC where I enjoyed my gap year in Belgium for the first 6 months and then to South America (Peru and Bolivia) for the other six as part of an EDHEC initiative called Aventure Equitable. It is during this last experience that I Knew I wanted to lead a career in Sustainability. When I graduated, I was very interested in the social and environmental impact of farming and I wanted to help to make healthier products available in grocery stores. I aspired to be part of a deeply committed company and this is how I found Lantmännen in Sweden. I started as a Junior Lead Buyer but quickly switched to a Procurement and Project Manager role where I was part of a local management team to turn around one of the business units of the group. After 2 and a half years, I realised my impact there was quite local so I decided to enlarge my spectrum and joined Northvolt.
As mentioned earlier, I was very determined to focus on sustainability after my experience in Latin America but EDHEC was not proposing any programme related to the topic in 2017. Back at the Lille campus, I wanted to discuss the reason why sustainability was not taking a bigger part of the teaching with a few stakeholders and Professor Bastiaan van der Linden was one of them. He shared his ambition to transform the MSc in Global Business and this is how he started brainstorming sessions with students interested in sustainability. Bastiaan built the programme around those thoughts and especially, our conclusion that the learning experience should not be so much based on theory but more on concrete cases answering a specific problem. It felt great to be part of the team contributing to this shift and to see so many other students were as interested and engaged on the topic.
Northvolt’s mission is to build the greenest battery in the world to enable the European transition to renewable energy, also having the highest ambitions for recycling and thus a fully circular economy. Sustainability, building a better world, is the core of the company. Even if I could not study sustainability as such at EDHEC, I think the most important is to have the right mindset and believe that no matter how demanding enabling change will be, it needs to happen and fast. To me, this is what project management is about: facilitating cross-functional tasks and make sure we deliver as soon as possible, on budget, taking calculating risks. The big plus of my studies was that it gave me the necessary critical thinking to challenge everything and my experiences abroad also thought me to embrace new and sometimes complex environments.
What I like most about my job is that it makes me wake up full of energy in the morning! I am so proud to work on projects that make a difference in how the world will look like in a few years. Northvolt is about challenging the status quo on every level and this is exactly what I was looking for: No compromise when it comes to building a better future. Being part of this type of start-up with high standards and experiencing exponential growth can of course be challenging from time to time but it is also very rewarding. I also like the fact that we are a very international team: more than 70 nationalities for 1200 employees! To sum up, I continue learning and growing while feeling I have a purpose: what more could I ask for!
I would recommend daring to go for it and believing you can make it. There are no excuses: you do not need to master English perfectly nor to have a network to find an internship/job abroad. However, you will for sure have to explain the reason behind your wish to work outside your home country: so work on your “why”, your motivation. It needs to be very consistent!
I would say that my best memories at EDHEC are linked to association events: Ed Express, l’Aventure Raid, OJO, aventure equitable, Explora... We have so many opportunities to develop outside the academic track. It is how you differentiate yourself when looking for a job… and meet a few people that will make your years at EDHEC unforgettable and become life-lasting friends!
Confidence, opportunities, friendship.