Patrice Caine: Guardian of Thales and the planet 

by Carole Bellemare
Le Figaro "Les décideurs engagés" - Carole Bellemare's column in Le Figaro about engaged business leaders
published 28/11/2023

Patrice Caine, Chairman and CEO of the Thales Group, at La Défense in March 2023


Top electronics firm puts its technology to work for a safer, greener world.

"Make the world safer, greener and more inclusive," is Patrice Caine's guiding mantra. He has headed the Thales Group since 2014, and he's more determined than ever to use the advanced technologies of the world champion (defence, aerospace, transport and security) to build "a future we can all trust." He's made it the purpose of the company, a stalwart of the CAC 40, and brought its 77,000 employees in 68 countries on board. Technological progress can build a more stable world, but also a more responsible world that guarantees the sustainable development of the planet.

That's the sincere conviction of Patrice Caine, an Ecole Polytechnique graduate who worked in banking and at the ministry of finance before joining Thales in 2002. "CSR concerns need to be hardwired into the Group's DNA. Our view is that a CSR policy can only be effective if it is implemented with the business and by the business." That's why he decided to embed the policy in every level of the Group's governance, and to build a network of CSR correspondents including the strategy and marketing directors of each Global Business Unit and every major country operation. Security, trust and engagement are the watchwords for supporting customers everywhere, "from the theatre of operations to the world's major cities, from the bottom of the oceans to the depths of space and cyberspace."

Heat recovery

But for the man who has transformed Thales and added to its fortunes, in particular by acquiring Gemalto, the world leader in digital security, "only tangible actions can show that our commitment is sincere". The Group recently installed a heat recovery system at its Elancourt datacentre, which hosts all its own data and the data of its customers in a 3,000 m² bunker 8 metres underground. The heat generated by the servers is re-injected into the heating system, reducing gas consumption by 65%.

Another source of pride for Patrice Caine and his staff is the recent inauguration of a revolutionary radar station, powered entirely by solar energy, for air traffic control in Chile. Laser-assisted nuclear fusion, flight path optimisation, a plan for orbiting solar power stations, two dedicated satellites launched into space for monitoring climate phenomena… The Group is constantly innovating to protect the environment, with R&D accounting for the equivalent of 20% of its sales.

Over and above the commitments made in 2015, the CEO in 2021 stepped up the strategy for a low carbon future that had been adopted two years earlier, with the objective of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040. Supply chain engagement, adoption of eco-design principles, creation of a single CSR governance structure headed by Chief Sustainability Officer Anne Bolot-Gittler since 2022… Recently endorsed by the independent body SBTi, Thales's objectives for 2030 offer tangible evidence of the virtuous system put in place by the CEO, who also contributes to the collective endeavour through GIFAS, the ANRT, France Industrie, and as president of the Cercle de l'Industrie.

Read the article in French on Le Figaro here.

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