Ateme’s Chrystelle Le Gall Charted An Early Path To The Cloud
Four years ago, Chrystelle Le Gall foresaw the demand for cloud solutions and helped orient Ateme to serve that need.
Le Gall, lead cloud solutions architect at Ateme, designed a reference architecture for cloud solutions that automated operations for Ateme clients. Her moves helped lay the foundation for the company’s customers to transition to the cloud during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is one of two Women in Technology Futurists, along with Suzana Brady, SVP for sales and marketing at Cobalt Digital and chair of the Reliable Internet Stream Transport (RIST) Forum (read about her here), who TVNewsCheck will recognize in a ceremony on April 18 at the NAB Show in Las Vegas.
Le Gall joined Ateme in 2018 as a micro services solutions engineer and “really wanted to work 100% in the cloud,” she says. There was pushback. “It was not the trend at the time. We were just starting to think of going to the cloud.”
But Le Gall thought the company needed to get ready for the demand she expected. She proposed the creation of a new role that would focus solely on cloud solutions.
“Some were convinced we needed someone taking care of this, and others were saying, ‘but why would we dedicate a person to this?’” she recalls. “It was fun to convince them” that the investment would be worthwhile.
Ultimately, Ateme agreed, and Le Gall took on that role and helped train her peers and the company’s customers about cloud solutions.
“Five years ago, nothing was in the cloud, now we have more than 20 experts,” she says.
She says her refusal to give up on her idea is one of the reasons for her success. She wanted to spend 100% of her time on the cloud, and she found a way to make it happen, and then encouraged more than 20 people to join her.
“When I have something in mind, I will go up to the end of it,” she says.
Jules Mermet-Husson, a cloud solutions architect who joined Ateme around the same time as Le Gall, says that when Le Gall has an idea in her mind, she “finds how to move forward, how to put in place her idea. This is the main thing. She finds the people and the resources in the company to move forward in the right direction.”
Her focus on advanced technologies is one reason he joined her team a few years ago.
“She’s always working on new topics, complex topics,” he says. Even so, “she explains all these things very simply and we always understand what she’s saying.”
In addition to simplifying things, she helps people understand the new technologies, he says.
He has, he says, learned a lot from her, from how she presents to customers to “how she can imagine the next evolution in the industry.”
Christophe Stigas, Ateme’s VP EMEA South, says he has learned by watching Le Gall that “you can just be yourself and can succeed being yourself.”
She created her own path, he says, which showed him “you’re much more efficient when you’re passionate about what you’re doing in your job.”
And when they care so much about what they are doing, he adds, they go above and beyond expectations.
“She is spending extra hours to get certified in things that the company is not even asking for,” Stigas says.
He says Le Gall also exudes integrity even in the face of pressure. He recalls a time when Ateme was asked to bid on a project and a salesperson had incorrectly described how the solution worked to a potential customer. Le Gall, he says, “said no in front of the customer” and explained how it really did work.
“The customer really liked this, liked the transparency and how she explained it,” he says. “It created confidence.”
But Le Gall has not always been confident to speak up. She is shy.
Her first manager “kind of unlocked my power,” she recalls. She was so shy that she “didn’t dare to get in front of people” and speak.
So, he set an objective for her, that she must give eight presentations on eight different topics to eight different types of audiences in the course of a year.
“That scared me a lot more than learning a new technology,” she says. “The first time, I was shaking, I was all red. It was probably awful for the people listening.”
But, she says, she was pushed in the right direction, and she got used to speaking to people.
“It’s not frightening anymore,” Le Gall says. “It really helped me. He pushed me further than I would have pushed myself.”
She is still shy, she says, but has learned how to manage that. “I prepare a lot, anticipate as much as I can,” she says. Doing breathing exercises before big presentations is also helpful, she says.
Le Gall has had the good fortune of having a lot of people to learn from in every position she’s held.
One of them, Ateme’s COO Joseph Soueidi, is “more of a happiness officer than the head of operations,” she says. “He has a good vision in terms of where we should go in terms of technology but also the way management should handle employees and the way we should listen to anyone who has an idea.”
From him, she’s learned that as a manager she must let her team be creative. “If they are doing things they’re interested in, they’ll be more efficient than if they are doing tasks they don’t care about,” she says.
She herself has always been interested in technology and the sciences. “I was attracted to mathematics, physics, biology,” she says. “They made sense to me.”
Those interests led her into engineering school, where women made up only about 10% of her classmates. Fortunately, she says, she had long had experience being outnumbered by males. As a youth, she fenced, and she competed nationally.
“I was already in a men’s world, even when I was little,” she says. “There were not that many girls doing this sport.”
And during those formative, fencing years, her mother was one of her role models. “I was raised by both my parents with the idea that a woman has to be independent, autonomous and not rely only on a man to live,” she says. Her mother also modeled the notion that “there is nothing you can’t do,” she adds.
When Le Gall was taking fencing lessons, her mother started helping at the fencing club. She came to enjoy it and ultimately became a fencing coach “in a men’s world. I guess witnessing this showed me that women can do as well as men,” Le Gall says.
One of the things she learned from fencing was not to give up.
“I was losing 13-8, and the match is over at 15,” she recalls of one national competition. “I had little chance of winning, but I didn’t care. I kept going and going. I lost 15-14. Looking back, I wouldn’t have dared to try to catch up if I knew I would lose. But I didn’t lose 15-8.”
Read more about this year’s Women in Technology Awards here.