Cascades is made up of around 11,000 women and men working in over 90 business units throughout North America and Europe. Among these Cascaders, you’ll find all kind of personalities and profiles: mothers, young professionals, sportsmen, etc. This month, our team chose to feature Natacha Houde, director, Research and Development at Cascades Groupe Tissu – Candiac.
How many years have you worked at Cascades?
I have worked at Cascades for over 3 years, but I have been in the pulp and paper field for over 15 years. It’s impossible for me to leave the pulp and paper industry. I believe it’s become part of my genetic code.
What is your training? In which unit do you work? Cascades Tissue Group, Candiac
My various jobs have allowed me to perfect my knowledge in several fields. Basically, I have a Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from École Polytechnique de Montréal. I began my career in the “quality” sector, obtaining a certificate with the same name. I then had the opportunity to work as a systems engineer. I was asked to program the PLCs and distributed control systems in the mills. I therefore decided to complete a certificate program in Computer Science to obtain a better understanding of programming and be more effective. Finally, I climbed the ladder and obtained my MBA a few years ago. I really appreciate learning and discovering new practices. For me, the best days are the ones when I go to sleep smarter than the day before! At there is no shortage of opportunities at Cascades!
Could you describe a typical day in the life of an R&D Director?
A typical day in the life of an R&D Director is totally hectic due to the diversified nature of the job. There is an abundance of challenges and no day is similar to another. We have to ensure the quality of the finished goods in all of the Group’s mills, coordinate R&D testing to improve our processes, but above all, be innovative in our methods and our product offering to stand out from the competition. Finally, we must work with the Marketing and Sales departments to ensure our customers are always satisfied. In short, it’s a super job… where we must have a good “D” system and adapt to a wide range of situations.
What is the strangest thing you’ve had to analyze or do in your work?
There are different tests that can be done to validate the quality of tissue. One of the comments that comes up fairly often is the propensity of bathroom tissue to block toilets. This can be validated by physical tests (for example, the residual strength of the paper when it is wet), but also by real tests on a toilet. We therefore developed this test at the Research and Development Centre, which is based on official methods, by the way. The development of this test was very interesting, especially the sequences synthetically reproducing the consumers’ conditions of use!
What is the funniest object you currently have in your office?
An Angry Bird stress ball. This is more a decorative object than anything else. The Angry Bird really looks nasty. It gives people who enter my office a good laugh!
Complete the following sentence: For me, being a Cascader means…
For me, being a Cascader means having a chance to make a difference in a company where people are listened to and respected for the ideas they contribute. This, I believe, is what distinguishes Cascades from many other companies and that drives its employees to outdo themselves constantly.
What are your passions in life?
I have several passions, specially painting, writing and music. It’s somewhat strange for a Cartesian engineer like me to have an artistic side! These activities are difficult to practice, because I travel a lot in the course of my work and I’m the mother of two wonderful adolescents who drain my weekends dry. But I’m also athletic at heart, and when I’m at home, I take time to train.
Since most of our Cascaders are ecologically-minded, but nobody is perfect… What is your environmental confession? We’re just chatting.
I practice recycling at home and I try to do the maximum. However, I have one little weakness: I’m a maniac for sports cars, especially muscle cars. I have one that consumes a lot of gas. Let’s say it’s the opposite of an electric car. But nobody’s perfect!