Air Art breathes new life into Air France aircraft parts, transforming them into works of art.
What is your professional background and why did you become an intrapreneur?
Isabelle : I have 30 years of seniority in the group. After joining the company as a line maintenance technician, I moved to the logistics department, then the aircraft technical office, and finally landed in the engine technical office. Now I work in “engine cost control”, so my daily life revolves mainly around cost monitoring and the development of engine repairs. Regarding intrapreneurship, it came naturally. I have never had the soul of an entrepreneur, and I have to admit that I would not have become one on my own.
Jérémy : I have been working for Air France for over 10 years now. I started out as an engine mechanic, but then went back to school to integrate the technical office. Isabelle and I are now working together. I have always loved learning new things, growing and evolving professionally. I pretty sure that I would not have applied for the program on my own either.
Could you briefly describe Air Art?
Sorting out non-re-airable engine parts and seeing which ones are eligible for repair development or not comes with the job. All non-eligible parts are given to a scrap dealer for metal recovery. We do this every Friday morning. It goes without saying that Jérémy and I both have a strong appetite for aeronautics and touching materials and parts. For certain occasions such as retirements, Air France employees regularly asked us if it was possible to recover certain parts. So the idea recycling, enhancing, and maybe even reselling them was already forming in our heads.
One morning, Jérémy told me that he had seen a “Boost the Future” challenge and asked me if I was up for entering with him. A young person and an older person with the same desire… Why not take a chance? I did not hesitate for very long.
Jérémy : To complete what Isabelle has just said, Air Art, in two words, is giving a second life to aviation parts. We try to turn these pieces into exceptional designs. We can use certificates prove that the parts were used to fly Air France/KLM which in turn gives them a unique character, something that is appreciated by passionate clients.
Beyond acting as a springboard, how did the “Boost the Future” intrapreneurship program help you develop your project?
Jérémy : Our respective professional backgrounds have very little to do with intrapreneurship. We did not have the project management skills needed. Thanks to the program and EeVee, the consulting company supporting us, we were able to learn everything we needed to know for our idea to come to life: lean canvas, business model, business plan, etc. We started at 0 but followed the steps one by one. Intrapreneurship is a big plus for both the personal and professional development of employees.
Isabelle : The selection for the program began a week before the first lockdown last March. This program has been a breath of fresh air for us during this complicated year. When business finally picked up again, it was relatively difficult to organize. Because we were partially unemployed, we had to use our free time to develop the idea.
What were the main phases of the program?
Isabelle : They started with a first selection based on the project files. Then on the first 2 days, March 5 and 6, EeVee explained the process and how the program would carry out. At the end of these two days, we pitched our project for the first time and were selected with five other teams to continue. We then continued with EeVee, sometimes at their premises, sometimes through videoconference. Marine Gall, VP Innovation & Intrapreneurship Programs, has provided us with a lot of help and support.
In your opinion, does a new intrapreneur have a typical profile?
Isabelle : Motivation is the first thing to come to mind. You certainly have to be motivated, given the highs and lows as well as the need to cling to the project’s purpose, the final objective. I am quite proud because despite the health context, the fact that we had little time to work on the project, and that we had to put it on standby when Jeremy became a father, we managed to deploy the product relatively quickly! Our strength came from our duo. It’s a lot easier together.
Jérémy : I would add the desire to learn, curiosity. Isabelle is like me: We are perfectionists and very conscientious of our work. I think that is important. In the end, we are very close and complement each other. Tasks are naturally distributed.
If you had to do it again, would you change anything?
Isabelle : I think I might have been somewhat overconfident. What I mean by that is looking for people internally and externally to rally the project and support us (help from designers, companies, etc.) was more complicated than I had expected. If I had to do it again, I would broaden my search radius.
Jérémy : If I had to do it again, I think I would put myself even more in the shoes of a project manager and not hesitate to skip the constraints of middle management, which can sometimes block the process. At Air France, the validation processes are clearly defined, there is a corporate culture based on hierarchy, and it is true that I have sometimes felt frustration, perhaps due to too much respect for the rules and the hierarchy. Because an intrapreneur is also a troublemaker! Isabelle and I may not have played the role of “corporate hackers” enough.
Where is Air Art today? What are your needs and goals in 2021?
Isabelle : The website works well, but today our need is at the marketing and communication level: Communicating about our project and garnering even more sales. It’s also true that we don’t have enough time to devote to our project and change its scale. If all goes well, we should normally spend two days per week dedicated to the continuation of our project. This was approved at our last meeting with Management. I can’t wait.
Jérémy : The idea is to speed up the development of the products thought of and that we have designs for. We would also like to quickly expand from just engine parts to aircraft and equipment parts as well.
Any advice for people still hesitating?
Isabelle : “Boost the Future” allowed us to create an idea that may have never seen the light of day on its own. Intrapreneurship is a rigorous operating method that works! We were able to take our idea very high and put it in place from A to Z, all while being helped. So, in my opinion, no hesitation needed? Go for it, be ambitious!
Jérémy : I agree with Isabelle: If you believe in your idea, don’t be afraid. You won’t be disappointed, both professionally and personally. When coming back from the last jury on 01/26/2021, Isabelle and I were remembering the first selection process on 03/06/2020. We realized just how far we had come! In just one year, both we and the project have grown tremendously! It’s a wonderful adventure, and far from over!