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What becomes of the school of Artificial Intelligence?

More than a year after the launch of the AI school by Microsoft, Simplon and Talan, Cyril Sacenda and Nicolas Chapon look back on the origins of the partnership, the benefits and bring us the vision of an apprentice.

Cyril Sacenda and Nicolas Chapon, respectively Data/IA manager and Data/IA developer at Talan in Bordeaux, highlight the artificial intelligence school, born from a partnership between Talan, Microsoft and Simplon.  

Cyril Sacenda, Data/IA Manager at Talan Bordeaux, discusses the origin of the partnership and the benefits for each:

How was this partnership with Simplon created and what is its objective? 

Talan is a French company created in 2002, which supports its customers in their digital transformations, in France and abroad. Talan has partnered with Microsoft and Simplon, who initiated the project, to create the IA Microsoft By Simplon school in the Bordeaux region. 

Talan's Bordeaux branch was created in January 2019 at the initiative of three directors, whose primary objective was to develop local contacts and rapidly deploy the Group's expertise in the region. It was through their partner Microsoft that they met with Simplon teams and the project was born. 

At Talan, we integrated 8 of the 24 alternates from the Data/IA promotion for a period of 15 months. These students have the opportunity to improve their skills thanks to experts from the Artificial Intelligence division of the Talan Group, who supported them on a series of innovative projects. 

Interesting anecdote: the selection of the students who were going to join Talan was done very quickly, in an innovative format. Each of them had only 7 minutes to convince us during an interview! 

What is the profile of the students? 

They are people who are retraining or looking for a job. Our students are between 26 and 37 years old. They first spent 4 intensive months in training to improve their skills and now alternate between three weeks in a company and one in training. In this class, we find very varied profiles: this complementarity is a real asset. 

From a business point of view, the objective is not only to train data scientists, but also profiles capable of meeting the needs of parameterization and assembly of existing technology bricks, such as those present in the Microsoft Azure cloud.  

What do these students bring to Talan?   

We're a fast-growing group and, in that respect, this is a great recruitment tool. It provides us with very enthusiastic and competent profiles to co-construct transformation projects with our clients.  

Each of our students has his or her own professional background. With their past experiences and their different profiles, they bring freshness to Talan. Locally, this also allows us to be in contact with Microsoft and Simplon. 

Finally, this project makes sense for Talan. This is a real societal approach.  

What does Talan bring to these students? 

We give them the opportunity to learn for several months, which is very valuable. They can apply what they learn during the training. Our role is to coach them on what we call soft skills, but also on technical skills and the ability to work as a team on company projects. 

For my part, my role is to ensure the employability of our apprentices at the end of these 18 months of training. It is our responsibility to ensure that they improve their skills and to support them so that they can integrate into the world of work in the new trade in which they have been trained.  

What types of projects can students carry out thanks to this training?  

We recently organized a meeting with teachers from Simplon to highlight projects carried out by our apprentices. In particular, we presented a tool based on AI and allowing the recognition and extraction of information present in financial invoices. 

Our students are also contributing to a project for the public sector, thanks to the work carried out around chatbot and machine learning technologies. 


Nicolas Chapon, Data/IA Developer, brings us his point of view as an apprentice: 


How did you integrate this course? 

I was previously a professional musician for ten years in a band. I chose to stop in order to better reconcile my professional and personal life. In my former life, I had to build the band's website, without any technical knowledge. By training myself in web development, little by little, I realized that I really liked it. More precisely, I like being able to mix rigor and creativity: there are many ways to solve a problem.  

In July 2019, I moved to Bordeaux and discovered this DATA/IA training with Simplon and Microsoft. It was a logical continuation to my web development training. 

As a training applicant, the advantage is to have direct access to partner companies. The search for a work-study program being sometimes complicated, it was a real advantage for me. I am currently doing my apprenticeship at Talan Bordeaux where we are divided into four pairs.  


What does this training offer you? 

This training leads to strong employability. I've never been so close to the corporate world before. I was a bit apprehensive about it, but I finally discovered a world that was both demanding and caring. Very quickly, a lot of autonomy is granted to us. The various feedbacks allow us to correct the situation and move in the right direction.  

This training brings us all the codes of teamwork, while mixing theoretical and practical knowledge. Thanks to learning by doing, we realize our ability to explore unknown areas. We also learn to ask for help when we need it. 

Simplon's philosophy is to guide the student towards autonomy. We exchange easily with each other and ask questions if necessary. 


What is your daily routine at Talan? 

We work on projects around AI technologies and especially chatbots. We have set ourselves goals to achieve in order to increase our skills. With my partner, we are constantly exchanging via videoconferencing tools. In addition, a weekly feedback with the rest of the team allows us to take stock of our objectives and see how we can move forward.  We work a lot in iterative cycles, in an agile way. 

So far, we have worked on research projects and have just recently been involved in a customer project. It's very exciting! 


What job would you like to do?

I'd like to build up my skills in back-end development and gradually move towards cloud architecture.  Artificial intelligence is a field I'm interested in but I'm not looking to do it myself directly. I'm more interested in the technical, application and structural side.