The National Order of Merit was recently awarded to Françoise Cazenave-Pendariès, ITER's Head of Human Resources.
The National Order of Merit was established in 1963 by General de Gaulle to reward citizens who have distinguished themselves through service to the Nation.
Second in prestige only to the Legion of Honour, the "Blue Ribbon", as the decoration is called, was recently awarded to Françoise Cazenave-Pendariès, the Head of the Human Resources Division at ITER.
The decoration - awarded upon recommendation from the French Minister of Higher Education and Research - recognizes Françoise's "exemplary career in public research institutions" and her "dedication to public service" through the various positions she has held in the field of human resources.
Françoise began her career in the mid-1980s, at a time when the expression "human resources" did not exist. "The term in use at the time was "personnel", which is slightly derogatory in French, and that bothered me," says Françoise. "I'm glad we're not using it any more."
In human resources, Françoise believes human "values" are paramount. "I've always felt a passion for 'the Other'... I've always tried to understand people's behaviour and convictions," she says. "I'm convinced that there will always be something to do to make a better place for man in his economic environment." And for women too: Françoise has been involved for many years in promoting gender parity — an issue that, she says, "ITER will have to address at some point."
The daughter of a CEA engineer, Françoise spent most of her youth in French Polynesia. At age 20, she joined CEA and worked for two years in Contracts and Procurement while pursuing a Master's Degree in human sciences and occupational psychology. Once obtained, the degree opened the door to a position in the CEA's "personnel" department — a trade and a "home" that were to be hers for the following years.
Still "in its infancy", the ITER project offers Françoise a different challenge from the positions that she held as Head of Human Resources at CEA/DAM Île de France Research Center and at the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control (INRIA) between 2002 and 2007.
"In my previous jobs, the structures had been established for a long time. The challenge was to fit initiatives into them — like promoting gender parity in science, implementing the European Charter for researcher, establishing a policy for handicapped personnel or creating a HR Department from scratch at INRIA. Here at ITER, there's room, and need, for invention and innovative tools "that take into account the best practices to serve an international project".
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