Working in the Finance and Procurement Department

The CERN Finance and Procurement (FP) Department handles around 35,000 internal purchase orders every year. A large number of them are processed by administrative assistant Sarah Pamelard and her two colleagues Dominique Trolliet and Laurence Fol. As you will see, this is not just any old desk job.


Sarah Pamelard in her office.

Sarah Pamelard has worked at CERN for 23 years (see box). She began her career as an assistant in the electronics design office and has been an administrative assistant in the FP Department's purchasing service for the last year and a half. Her work involves processing all internal purchase orders for amounts not exceeding 10,000 CHF. "For each order we have to find the supplier who will provide the best services. Our search covers suppliers in all the Member States to ensure the best possible balance of financial return among them", explains Sarah.

The skills that the job demands are not confined to the area of finance. Above all, you need to be very well organised. "My colleagues and I each handle around fifteen orders a day", says Sarah. "Orders need to be processed within two days to ensure that the delivery deadlines are met. Even though we are used to the work, it still requires a lot of concentration and good organisation."

Sarah's job involves daily interaction with suppliers and customers. Good negotiation skills are needed to obtain the best quality/price/deadline ratio in compliance with CERN's purchasing rules.
"When there are problems with an order, people can get annoyed and it's important to remain positive and calm when talking to them", says Sarah. "Sometimes the problem can be caused by the simple fact that the customer has failed to fully complete the purchase order. We insert the missing information and the problem is solved!"

Sarah's reply to anyone who might conceive the FP Department's personnel as bureaucrats chained to desks piled high with documents: "The Department is a very pleasant place to work as a lot of emphasis is placed on human relations and contacts with the outside".


The curriculum vitae of Sarah Pamelard

Sarah attended the Jeanne d’Arc school in Gex and trained as an administrative assistant at the Greta Leman centre in Annemasse. Her first job was in a computer shop in Annemasse, which gave her the opportunity to put her sales and communications training into practice. After that, she spent 19 years as an administrative assistant in the electronics design office of the TS/DEM Group. During that time she acquired the skills that now stand her in good stead for her work as an administrative assistant in the Finance and Procurement Department, where she acts as the point of contact for CERN's sub-contractors, as well as placing orders and following up production schedules, to name just a few of her responsibilities. She has been in her present post in FP for a year and a half.

by Laëtitia Pedroso