Valérie, Tubes Europe Marketing Manager
Quality and innovation to stay ahead
Valérie Lebelt is both proud and relaxed about her 20-year loyalty to the Albéa Group. As a young engineer, she seized the opportunity to take an important position on a production site. Since then, she has accumulated a wealth of experience from her various missions, becoming a leading expert in tubes. Her story is the exemplary one of a pioneer woman, in what used to be very much a man’s world.
At 20 years old, as Valérie Lebelt was completing her education in physics and chemistry at an engineering school, she discovered her true calling in life by reading an article on quality management of a production line for filling tubes. “It was a revelation! There were very few training courses that specialized in quality,” she explains. Having completed her degree, the young engineer joined a company as Quality & Regulatory Affairs Manager. After three years, Valérie felt she had been there long enough. “I was a bit bored and, more than anything else, I wanted to get closer to production.” On learning that the Pechiney Group (which later gave way to Albéa) was looking for engineers, she sent off her application – and was hired just two weeks later. As the 21st century dawned, Valérie felt she was in the right place. On January 1st, 2000, she joined the tube activity as Quality Manager.
“At the time, it was rare to see a female manager in a production plant. It says a lot about the DNA of Albéa, that they trust young engineers enough to give them positions of responsibility. Of course, I had to overcome a few prejudices, by demonstrating how seriously I took my work and by proving that I had the necessary technical skills.”
“Always anticipate, to stay ahead of the trends”
For her first 10 years, Valérie held a variety of positions in a production plant environment, learning about the processes and the shop floor reality. By organizing projects at a pan-European level, she also learned about cultural differences. After 10 years, she moved to Albéa’s headquarters, taking up more corporate and strategic responsibilities, while still remaining in close contact with the plants. Valérie is currently Director for all new product development projects, her role is to transform the development and production processes for printing designs onto tubes.
For this project, which started three years ago, she began by setting out her vision which involved standardizing, digitizing and automating these processes. Then she designed and established an ecosystem of connected, collaborative tools, which are used to support a centralized set of European teams dedicated to printing designs for customers. “We have reached the operational phase in Europe, and we are working on a wider deployment both in terms of geographical area and products.” With the help of a multigenerational, multicultural team, which she says “purely by chance” happens to be 80% female, she is contributing to strengthening Albéa’s leadership in tubes. “Our leadership status means that we always have to anticipate, so we can be ahead of the curve.” Such a project is endless, as it forms part of a wider process of continuous improvement, exploiting the very latest technologies and processes.
For Valérie Lebelt, who describes herself as being curious, organized, and an organizer, this vocation is still her passion after all these years. “I like seeing the latest products on the market, discovering their highly technical aspects, and always meeting new people, both internally and externally.”
Proud of the innovations to which she has contributed, such as the hair dye tube a few years ago or, more recently, the #Follow connected tube and the paper tube, Valérie Lebelt continues to look towards the future. The innovation of her dreams? “A tube that can be produced in a click, with a minimal carbon footprint,” she replies. Nothing is impossible for this determined woman, who is recognized across the industry.