Robin has been fascinated by trains since he was young. From the iconic Art Nouveau entrances of the Paris Métro to the buskers at New York subway stations, there’s something about the sprawling network of underground tunnels carving their way through a cityscape that gives Robin a sense of purpose. “Things just happen on them,” he says. “It’s where people meet, it’s how they get home. That is what’s so great about them — they’re the common thread between all cities.”
Train travel has certainly played a huge part in Robin’s life. His grandparents first laid eyes on each other on a train in Tunisia, and throughout his childhood he traveled on the Paris Métro with this father. “Now that I’m working on the Réseau Ferré Rapide de Tunis, I am regularly in the same place where my grandparents met and eventually got married,” says Robin.
One of the greatest equalizers — regardless of wealth or social class — everyone at some point uses inner city public transport. “It’s anchored into us Parisians,” he says. “At the end of the day, I’m proud to tell my friends I work with trains. They’re the quickest and best way to get around any busy city.”
Creating a common language
That commonality — the things that bring disparate groups of people together — now sits at the heart of Robin’s career. As Commercial Manager at Siemens Mobility, he looks after the financial health of three major transport projects in Paris, New York, and Tunisia.
Surrounded by engineers, developers, coders, and supply chain managers, Robin takes his team through the complex world of budgets, costings, and financial breakdowns. “I need to be able to create a common language to make sure everyone is working in the same direction,” he says. “So we can do all the great things we do, but in a cost-conscious way.”
Bridging the gap between costs and creations, commercial managers are responsible for making sure a project is delivered on time and to budget. With a head for numbers, they have to be equally confident when talking to engineers as they are when talking to accounts. “You need to be on the same page as each other,” he says. “You don’t have to understand everything — but you have to be interested. If you’re not curious about the work, you can’t relate to the people creating it. And you need them to be able to take you seriously.”
Valuing the currency of others
There’s no doubt Robin works with an incredibly talented team, who are experts at planning a route from point A to point B. “All the engineers I work with are really bright,” he says, “but when they get a big budget, they don’t always know how to make it cost-effective.” Drilling down into the numbers, he plots out the entire project from a financial perspective — making sure every expenditure is accounted for.
Robin first focused on the relationship between people and money back in 2014. Having studied economics for four years, he was introduced to a new angle on finance: “My degree was very mathematical. But in our third year I covered HR, accounting finance, communications — all that sort of stuff.” After several work placements in different technology companies, he got a taste for being in the world of financial leadership so decided to apply for the Siemens Graduate Program.
Automating the City of Light
Now, by combining technology, people, and finances, Robin is transforming the very city he grew up in. As part of largest transport project in Europe, his team are helping to automate Line 14 of the Grand Paris Express.
Covering 28 kilometers of track, designed to carry 72 trains that will stop at 21 stations, Line 14 is set to transform how Parisians move around their city. Starting at Orly airport in the south of the city, Line 14 cuts straight through the heart of the French capital, crossing the city center and ending up in Saint-Denis — 10 kilometers due north from Centre Georges Pompidou.
By 2024, the new network is expected to carry more than a million passengers every day. On Line 14 alone, crowds of 40,000 passengers per hour will flow in both directions. The new route needs to be fast, smooth, and seamless, which is where Robin’s team come in. “We don’t work on the trains themselves, we work on the automation,” he explains. Depending on what the city’s transport operator need to make self-operating — from automatic doors to driverless trains and self-manned control centers — they can do it.
“In a few years, I’ll be traveling to the airport via this route,” he says. “That’s the thing I most love about my job — we make useful stuff.”
Robin Tireloque is a Commercial Manager at Siemens Mobility in Paris. In his spare time, he loves watching sports and is even working on a fantasy cycling app. Find out more about working at Siemens.