Interview with Robert Stelly (Ch 197), Shasta committee member and Shasta mentor

AFAM: Hello, Robert, and thank you for your time and for agreeing to talk to us. We invited you to participate in our “Giving back to your community” interview series to  talk about your role within AFAM and the motivation that led you to this role. But first of all please tell us a few words about yourself. Where do you live and what are you doing in life?

Robert: Sure, hello Albina. I am living in Houston, TX. Before that I was living in the North of France and even before I was born and raised in the countryside of the great city of Nancy in Lorraine. In 2019, I was invited to move to the US to speed up the development of new businesses involving digital components. My company is a worldwide group manufacturing heavy mechanical components for the energy sector traditionally oil, gas, geothermal and more recently involved in CCUS and hydrogen. I have been working in this company for almost 16 years. Previously, I was working many years in the railway industry for the biggest North American train manufacturer that was recently acquired by Alstom. I am married to my awesome wife Sophie. We are having an intense life, among others we enjoy gathering with family or friends, traveling but also cooking. On my end, I am specializing myself in baking sourdough French baguettes, croissants, obviously petit pate lorrain and other puff pastries that make me famous in the neighborhood.


AFAM: today you live and work in Texas, did you meet gadz’arts community there? Could you tell us more about gadz in Texas?

Robert:  Texas is a big state with scattered cities: Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas, College station, Lubbock, to name a few. Rather challenging to gather people in one single spot. We gather in smaller groups usually by affinities and/or location. As far as I am concerned, I meet with the Gadzart community of Houston. Good food, good wine and good vibes are always around the corner.


AFAM: Currently, you are one of the Shasta mentors and one of the  members of the Shasta committee at American Friends of Arts et Metiers. Please tell us about it. How did you join the committee? What was your motivation? How do you see your role as a Shasta mentor and a committee member today?

Robert: Good questions, thank you for asking. Actually, before I moved to the USA I was used to traveling a lot and working around the globe with limited time to do something else for my community. And Covid happened, it gave me the opportunity to think about the direction my world… our world is going to. Among others, I realized the drop of industrial jobs in France since the 2000’s: from 25 to 10%, a very limited number of French university in the Shanghai ranking, the national ranking of the Arts et Métiers is better than it used to be, still lagging behind the top 10, no champion in “the tech” really competing at the same level as GAFA. Putting these facts in perspective, I was wondering what I could be doing at my level. Not much maybe, however, thanks to my various experiences in working in many countries like Japan, Germany, China, the Emirates, Mexico, Scotland, England… and now based in the USA, why not giving few hours of my time in helping students at developing their hidden desires, giving them few tips on their resume and obviously to look outside of the French territories. Digging down with the gadz’art community in Houston, I came across the Shasta program from AFAM, a great tool in connecting students and their elders located in the USA. I am honored to be seated at the AFAM committee and do our best to address the mentees' needs.

AFAM: Do you have any previous experience helping non-profit organizations? Any non-profit you knew of and helped when you were a student at Arts et Metiers?

Robert: Back in the day, I was leading a small group of the Union des Élèves, called Cvis . The goal was to provide a wide range of services to the 1,000 students. At this time, the vast majority of students were based in Paris for the 3rd year. I also remember my contribution to the Shell Eco marathon. Under a non-profit, I was also giving some training courses to prisoners for a couple of years.


AFAM: Anything you’d like to wish to AFAM?

Robert: From Boston to LA, from Miami to Seattle, there are some gadzarts, living and working. They are involved in many fields and activities that it is simply not possible to summarize. I am in touch with some of them, many of them if not all are eager either to support the Shasta program or want to welcome students as interns/trainees in their company. Of course, I wish the best for American Friends of Arts et Métiers and the different initiatives that are embedded to leverage this amazing  footprint. I wish these programs will be massively communicated to the students at the earliest stage of their scholarship in our great school Arts et Métiers. I know everything is done in this direction and that you, Albina, are instrumental in that respect.


AFAM: Thank you, Robert!


Picture: courtesy of Robert

Giving back to your community: Interview with VP International, Valerie Prulhière (Li 187)


AFAM: Hello Valérie and thank you for taking the time to give us this short interview! Please tell us a few words about yourself.

Valérie: I come from North of France so I naturally went to Lille when I was accepted in Arts et Métiers , Sciences & Technologies (Ensam) back in 1987. I have been passionate about this school from the very beginning, and I am still today a.k.a my engagement as Vice-president of the Arts et Metiers Alumni (Soce). Through my career, I have worked in different industries: Aerospace, Oil & Gaz and also Insurance with a focus on industrial risks. I spend 9 years in Dallas with my husband and three children from 2008 to 2017. I have been deeply involved in both French and American school systems. Coming back to France, I decided to use the best of both educational systems and became a professional coach and college counselor.


AFAM: You are VP International at la SOCE since 2021. Please tell us a few words about how come you accepted this position and also how you see your role and your future goals.


I must tell that first, when I was offered the job, I refused. I was launching my own business and thought I didn’t have time to fulfill the task. Then I looked back at my own experience of being an expat and being so far away from la Soce and the school. And I thought that I will at least be able to understand what it’s like to be away and therefore being able to try to do something meaningful for those away from home.

La Soce is a large and strong Alumni network, which particularity is to have structured groups everywhere in France and abroad. I believe one of my roles is to make sure that we used this strength to help Gadz students to find internships (17 to 20 weeks of international mobility will soon be mandatory to graduate), to help young Gadz who want to have an expat experience, to make sure la SOCE is connected to Gadz living abroad and vice versa, and to promote our unique community abroad.


AFAM: Because of your new role as VP International you're also one of the board members of AFAM. Please tell us what you knew about AFAM before joining the board how has your vision of AFAM changed since?

Valérie: I, first, heard of AFAM when I was In Dallas. Since I was registered on the Alumni list living in the US, I received some emails. At the time, I was busy with adjusting to a normal expat daily life with small kids. We were in Dallas, not really surrounded by Alumni, Afam was, I have to confess, a little bit distant from my concerns.

I knew AFAM had a growing activity, but I honestly became aware of it when I became VP International. I was really impressed and amazed by the work done to help young AM students to come study in the US, by the creativity of finding different tools to increase the offer. I think it is probably not popular or not known, enough in our community. It definitively needs more advertising.



AFAM: AFAM is a non-profit organization and gadz'arts participating in different committees and initiatives are all volunteers. Have you been a volunteer before? What are the causes most close to your heart?

Valérie: I am sure my family and close friends would tell you that being a volunteer is a huge part of my life (sports, school, kids’ activities). Arts et Métiers community is obviously a big topic. I was involved from the very beginning in going back to middle and high schools to explain to students, especially female students, how to become an engineer. It is very close to my heart to make sure young girls are aware that engineering fields are not only for boys and that they are at the right place when they choose STEM studies. 


AFAM: what would you like to wish to AFAM for the future?

Valérie: I wish AFAM to keep its dynamism and to meet success in increasing its actions towards AM students. I believe it is also a wonderful tool to promote the Arts & Métiers community in the US.


AFAM: thank you for this interview!

As a reminder: AFAM is holding a board elections. Valerie is running for re-election as a SOCE representative. AFAM donors are eligible to vote. To know more about the election process, please read it.


Photo: courtesy of Valérie Prulhière

First gadz spring gathering in San Francisco took place on April 22nd in Spark Social SF. Spark Social SF is a food truck park, beer, sangria garden and event space located in the heart of San Francisco Mission Bay neighborhood. The event was organized by our new West Coast group zident - Nicolas Horde (Ai 214). 25 gadz joined the lounge seating ( called Alcove) during the gadz'arts gathering on a sunny afternoon.

We are looking forward to meeting new (and old) gadz in coming summer season.

If you are an Arts et Metiers alumnus/alumna or an Arts et Metiers student based in SF bay area, join the West Coast group.

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Gadz energy networking took place March 22nd in Houston.

More than 10 gadz working in the energy sector and living in Houston area gathered together thanks to the group's organizer, DG Amériques - Patrice Brossard.

Nice moments together! Thank you, Patrice, and all those who came!

If you want to join gadz energy network (you can be anywhere in the US), please contact Patrice Brossard.


Double National title for one of our Board members

When not in AFAM meetings or working with IBM clients or on a plane, Jean Pommier (An 183) will likely be outdoors, running for many miles at a time, a hobby, ultra marathon running, he calls his second job. This March, he managed to score two USA Trac & Field National titles in his age group, a week apart. First at the 100-mile Road Championship in Las Vegas, then the 50K Road National on Long Island in New York. With parents from Normandy, these achievements got covered in two pieces in Ouest France (100-mile, 50K). Jean has been selected for the mythical Spartathlon, a 245-kilometer foot race retracing Pheidippides journey between Athens and Sparta after the battle of Marathon, at the end of September. “After 188 ultra races, something new and a learning experience” says Jean about Spartathlon, “the longest I’ve run so far has been 215 km in 24 hours, but that was on a flat loop. This time I’ll have to get the help of some Greek gods to get me over Mount Parthenio! Time to review my mythology courses from middle school!”


Articles Ouest France

Photos: voir blog posts