A job like no other...
In 1968, I left Algeria to move to Paris with my wife for a job at Alcatel. It was a time of major reorganisations, there were a lot of strikes, and a particular atmosphere that I didn't particularly like. One day in January 1969, while I was looking through the newspaper Le Monde, an advertisement called out to me: "The French Oil Company of Algeria is recruiting engineers with all kinds of training in the Sahara".
I answered them immediately. My wife, surprised, asked me why I was interested in this job when we had just left Algeria. In fact, I was curious to know the recruitment process.
In February I was received by Jean-Claude Neyrolles at 8, Rue des Graviers in Neuilly, CFPA headquarters. Some time later it was the HR Director, Mr. Coulomb, who told me at the end of the interview: "you have an oil tanker profile". Afterwards, I continued the interviews over several weeks without conviction and taking my time.
Two months later, on a beautiful day in April, I was walking along Boulevard des Capucines. I came face to face with Khaled Madaoui, a tank engineer with whom I had shared the benches of the FAC. He was in the company of another CFPA engineer, Mr. Aurignac. We sat down and he explained to me the recruitment process at the CFPA: I would be received in Neuilly by the Technical Director: C. Rederon. He explained to me that the living conditions in Hassi Messaoud were not obvious, the climate and the single life were not necessarily suitable for everyone. Therefore, I had to envisage a 3-day trip to the place to see the working conditions and the environment and judge for myself.
In reality, Khaled Madaoui told me, the real reason for this trip was to know if my personality would please the people on the spot because the decision to recruit was necessarily made with the green light of the District Chief.
So I took the relief caravel between Paris and Hassi Messaoud, late arrival and here I am in a cabin of the 16th (living environment of the Engineers). The next morning, presentation to the District Chief and the various department heads.
At lunch time, I was taken to the executive room, a restaurant like no one imagines in a company in Paris. On Khaled's advice, I ordered 10 bottles of Mascara (Algerian red wine) for all the Engineers, including the district chief. Beyond expectations, their reaction was relatively positive. I had an appointment that day at 5 p.m. with Jean Paul Drouin, District Manager, who sent a telex to Paris to confirm his recruitment agreement. It was in this rather peculiar context that I was finally recruited!
Today, when someone asks me how I joined the CFPA I answer: with 10 bottles of Mascara!
Former president Serge Tchuruk has experienced it...