a Maverick in Standardisation
Happily retired after 40 years in Vallourec, Patrick Fallouey, former Corporate Standardisation Director, representing the company in API, convenor of the ISO group in charge of the maintenance of the OCTG standards (in close contact with API), is hardly leading a quiet retirement. Patrick is passionate about hiking, but, instead of roving through his beloved Alps, he is running from one committee to another, sharing his insight and experience with fellow professionals. “Retirement is really not what I expected! I thought I’d have lots of time, but I’m actually more solicited than ever… and I’ve been asked to keep a little time some of my honorary positions.” Patrick admits he still enjoys the excitement of debating with specialists of European and International certification committees around the world.
Patrick Fallouey is somewhat of a celebrity in the community of standardisation where he is acknowledged and respected as an expert. “There’s still lots to do and it’s great to stay in touch with all my contacts around the world. You see, over 50% of the job is public relations and, in 25 years, you get to know everybody in the field!”
Patrick’s career path was unlike any other. “I started in Vallourec 40 years ago, at the mill in Aulnoye, where I was production manager for 10 years. I wanted to be near the workers, the processes and products. Then, I specialized in quality for over 3 years. One morning, I was called in for a project in Russia: a mill was being launched in Volgograd. Vallourec needed someone with experience in production and quality, as well as fluent in French, German and English. I left for what was supposed to be a 3-month mission… and stayed 2 years! It was a fabulous experience, well worth the sacrifices and difficulties.”
When Patrick returned, in 1990, Vallourec entrusted him with the creation of a standardisation department. “We nearly started from scratch! Our challenge was to participate in creating and building all the European and worldwide standards to comply with growing world trade.” Patrick adds, “You see, standardisation is at the very heart of production and holds tremendous strategic value. We set product and production standards that define part of the industry, for decades. A standard can advantage or hamper suppliers in their development. Sitting on a committee, we influence the standards to benefit client and manufacturer interests in terms of specification, quality and safety. It’s what I call commercial lobbying.”
“A financial manager once asked me: ‘What is your financial contribution to the company results?’ That night, I couldn’t sleep. The next day, I replied ‘I truly cannot tell you what I bring the company financially, but I can tell you what it would cost if I wasn’t there…’ he seemed satisfied with my answer and never asked again!”
In retirement as in his professional life, Patrick’s driver is definitely enthusiasm: he is still heavily engaged (France, Europe and worldwide) in NDT (non-destructive testing) personnel certification activities for Vallourec, as well as in contact with API. He is also an advisor about NDT for the French Aerospace Industry and the SNCF. A true maverick!