Karine De Bellefeuille never imagined that one day she’d be responsible for fixing a leaky roof. “It was definitely a surprise, but a learning experience as well,” says the 36-year-old industrial engineer, who manages the maintenance, new projects, health, safety, environment and quality department – ETNSHE for short – at L’Oréal Canada’s distribution centre in Montreal.
If her title sounds like a mouthful, it’s because De Bellefeuille has a lot on her plate. When she’s not ensuring the general maintenance of the building, she’s working to make it more eco-friendly by doing things like installing a solar wall to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
Though she sounds like she might be handy, don’t ask the graduate of Montreal’s École Polytechnique to pick up a hammer.
“I’m good at managing renovations but I’m not a very manual person. I know the theory,” says De Bellefeuille, who joined L’Oréal Canada a little more than 10 years ago and has held several positions during her time with the company.
Industrial engineering, sometimes referred to as process engineering, deals with organisational optimisation or logistics.
“In school, I first studied mechanical engineering and found industrial by chance through speaking with differ-ent people. It’s a field that is very versatile. It’s very open and can apply to many different areas. There’s also a lot of problem solving involved, which is what I really like about it” says the mother of two young boys.
When De Bellefeuille was in university, there weren’t many women in her program.
“I’d look around and we were two in class of 60,” she says. De Bellefeuille never let this discourage her. “I’ve always felt like I was in the right place, both in school and at my job.”
She does notice however, that more and more women are entering the field – it’s visible as she works alongside more and more of them at L’Oréal Canada.
“Young girls today have a lot more knowledge about engineering than in the past. At the distribution centre, there are many young female graduates from the industrial program. It feels good to see them all progressing and I know they’ll easily be able to evolve in this environment.”