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2017 INRA Awards

2017 INRA Awards

 At a crossroads

As Marcel Proust wrote, “Days may be equal for a clock, but not for man”. These words struck a chord for the young Françoise Macouin, who was studying hard to pass the French section of her agricultural teaching certificate. From that moment on, she decided she would always be the captain of her ship, forever moving forward. One need only to look at her exceptional career in human resources to see that.

By Julie Cheriguene, translated by Inge Laino
Updated on 01/08/2019
Published on 11/20/2017

With 44 years of experience at INRA in Poitou-Charentes, Françoise Macouin can confirm: HR is more than a job, it’s a profession. A profession based not only on thorough knowledge of rules and regulations, but also on the ability to forge ties with others, which comes from working with people: “Nobody does it alone. It’s those around us who help us become who we are”.  

INRA means intellectual and cultural diversity

A woman of poise

In 1973, after earning a certificate as agricultural technician, Françoise began working for INRA in two roles: as managing secretary in two experimental units of the institute’s Rouillé site, and in charge of accounts. From the very first chapter of her life at INRA, she was hooked: “I’ve always appreciated the quality of life at INRA. I was close to home in a supportive work environment”.
In 1985, she took over the management of non-titular staff at the Lusignan and Rouillé sites, an opportunity she didn’t waste a second seizing: “It was a new professional beginning for me!” She held this post until 2002, when she became staff manager at INRA in Poitou-Charentes. “The centre is unusual in that it is made up mostly of experimental units, spread out all over the place, in very different geographical sites (1). It wasn’t easy to shift all staff management to Lusignan. Each site has its own identity”, she says.
With her badge around her neck, Françoise walks with a confident stride around all the offices, leaving no door unopened. Everyone knows and appreciates her energy, willingness to help and friendly disposition… and her addiction to coffee too! As a colleague says, laughing, “Everyone knows that if you want to win Françoise over, all you have to do is buy her a cup of coffee!”

A woman of purpose

When it comes to managing outreach staff, Françoise is particularly interested in one key issue: maintaining jobs for handicapped workers. “It’s essential to be able to continue developing your skills throughout your career”, which for Francoise is indicative of the importance of a multi-disciplinary team that mixes HR, health and safety and social services. “It’s very satisfying for everyone when our work leads to jobs that are the right fit for people”.
In 2000, the need for qualified HR staff prompted Françoise to enrol in a qualification course at the French national conservatory for arts and trades (CNAM) in Poitou-Charentes. A nod to the young girl who would have liked to continue her studies, and a turning point in her life that required a considerable personal investment. “My husband took advantage of the opportunity to become a golf addict!” she muses.
Never one to shun a high-stakes challenge, Françoise approached her exams without fear, as a way to move her career forward. “For oral exams, I took a serve-and-volley approach!” she says. A well-chosen expression, as she is no stranger to the tennis court, where she goes to let off steam any chance she gets. “On the court, I’m alone in a face-to-face with myself. At work I’m part of a team, so the two go well together. Wherever I am, I draw on my inner resources to give it my best shot”.
In her work to identify know-how among staff in relation to the reference document for employment in research and higher education (2), she focussed on the institute’s estimated needs for jobs and skills (3). “Her trajectory is unique”, says Jean-Marc Chabosseau, president of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine Poitiers centre. “She is always willing to go a step further, and support INRA in its management of human resources”.

In the centre at the bottom of the stairs, Françoise Macouin, recipient of the 2017 Research Support Award, surrounded by the team of the INRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine Poitiers Research Centre.. © INRA, MAITRE Christophe
In the centre at the bottom of the stairs, Françoise Macouin, recipient of the 2017 Research Support Award, surrounded by the team of the INRA Nouvelle-Aquitaine Poitiers Research Centre. © INRA, MAITRE Christophe

(1) The INRA centre in Nouvelle-Aquitaine Poitiers consists of four sites: Lusignan (includes an administrative unit), Le Magneraud, Saint Laurent de la Prée and Chizé.

(2) Professions of engineers and technical staff for research and training (ITRF) and engineers and technical staff (ITA) are described in the list of posts and professional activities called RéFérens (reference document for employment in research and higher education).

(3) A dynamic analysis of staff and skills among researchers, engineers and technicians at INRA carried out in 2013 led to the publication of a report on strategic workforce planning (GPEC), the goal being to identify future needs and skills in research and find ways to fulfil them. 

Now what?

A new beginning starts for Françoise Macouin on 1 May 2018, when she’ll be retiring. She will pass the baton to her colleague for all that concerns contract management, but her replacement will also have to go through an internal overhaul of in-house assignments and recruitment based on external competition. “In HR, the human factor counts for a lot. You must be attentive and responsive, and able to communicate and lead to help people find their way: that’s the profile we’re looking for!”
As far as staying active goes, Françoise has every intention to do so, by travel and enrolling in continuing education classes “as soon as there is free time to be had…”


  • 64 years old, married, two children, four grandchildren
  • 1969: Agricultural Teaching Certificate and French undergraduate qualification (BEPC)
  • 1971: Agricultural technical agent certificate, minor in agricultural management and economics
  •  1973: recruited with contract at INRA
  • 1987: acquired tenure via an internal competition for research administration support
  • 2002: General certificate of administration and staff management, CNAM
  • 2005: French first cycle diploma (DPC) in Personnel, work and business, CNAM
  • 2006: Diploma of applied advanced studies in administration and staff management, CNAM
  • Hobbies: tennis, running, humanitarian tourism (most memorable trips include Rajasthan, Croatia, Spain, Romania and Venezuela)

Prizes and distinctions

  • 2017 Research Support Award