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Being a CTO Founder Associate at Alan

Being a CTO Founder Associate at Alan
Updated on
29 February 2024
Updated on
29 February 2024
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As Alan scaled, Charles Gorintin, Alan’s co-founder and CTO, decided to create a CTO Founder Associate position: exceptional interns who can partner with him to explore different topics, own decisions and go the extra-mile. Within gap-year or end-of-studies internships, Founder Associates join Alan for ~6+ months with the purpose of learning and delivering impactful projects. Learn more in this article about the job of Simon Dubail, Grégoire Lambert, Francesca Vogliotti, Lancelot Brun and how they contribute to the growth of the company.

Could you tell us more about your role of CTO Founder Associate at Alan?

Simon: As a CTO Founder Associate, my role is to support and partner with Charles Gorintin, CTO & Co-founder of Alan, and other Senior Alaners with highly strategic topics. As the CTO “right hand”, you explore, scope and roll out various projects, while assisting him in his daily work.  

Concretely, you can be asked to prototype new products, analyze new markets, partnerships, benchmark AI based technologies, help with financial audits, code and roll out AI tools … The list of subjects is long! 

Grégoire: By having a very high level of exposure to C-level and founders of a fast growing company, you get the chance to develop both a strong transversal understanding of the company, and a deep ownership of some vertical topics. Spending 6 months at Alan is like spending 2 years at another organization! 

How is it different from the CEO Founder Associate position?

Simon: As the name suggests, CEO Founder Associates (there are 5 to 7 of them !) mainly work with Jean-Charles, our CEO, while the CTO Founder Associate (one at a time for now) works more with Charles, our CTO. 

As a result, it’s easy to think that the scope of the CEO FA position is much more “business oriented” than the “tech-oriented” scope of the CTO FA position, but it’s not necessarily true. 

To give you examples, current CEO FAs work on exploring opportunities in the dental health market, or reviewing M&A opportunities, preparing board meetings…

As a CTO FA, I chose to dedicate most of my time to our Artificial Intelligence strategy, exploring new technologies, sharing our vision, coding prototypes and rolling out products for the company. 

However, I also spent a lot of time on ESG (Environmental Social Governance) projects, running the whole Alan carbon audit, or even legal topics. One of my CTO FA predecessor's main contributions was the 2023 financial audit ! 

Grégoire: FAs play a crucial role in determining the kind of projects they work on, so the line between business and technology isn't clear-cut. At the heart of both internships is the deep dive into strategic topics, offering a learning opportunity like never before.

Great! So could you maybe tell us about a typical day?

Simon : On a daily basis, you will quite often have to manage both short term missions (benchmarks, explorations … ) and long term projects. As a result, navigating very diverse types of  deadlines makes each day pretty unique. 

I could spend an entire morning diving deep in a machine learning paper, while spending the afternoon quickly jumping from writing a formal letter to a competitor to updating our AI agents' automations… 

Sometimes I would also be focused on one single hot topic for days, like preparing the AI Strategy keynote to present it in front of the whole company on stage !

You mentioned some already, but could you give examples of projects that you led during your internship?

Simon : As mentioned above, your projects are highly dependent on what you want to work on, and always end up taking you on a 360° tour of the company. The scope of our CTO is really diversified, giving me the opportunity to work on many projects, among others : 

  • Customer service automations : I’ve been exploring new customer service experiences, testing voice based AI technologies and coding LLM voice bot prototypes. 

  • Sales Operations & Internal tooling : as part of the core team responsible for rolling out the AI efficiency plan for the whole sales community, I’ve built and shipped LLM based agents and products to empower Alaners in their daily work : automated prospecting, meeting management, customer intelligence extraction…

  • Scaling our brand : I’ve trained Stable Diffusion models capable of generating our most recognizable brand asset, our marmot, to enable every Alaner to customize our brand for our products, offers, content…

  • RSE :  I’ve updated our Carbon Footprint Assessment for the year 2022.

Francesca : when starting my internship I was very interested in the intersection between AI and business topics, and this was well reflected in the projects I worked on:

  • Cost to serve analysis: I have structured work around understanding our cost base for different customer segments and explored AI tools to reduce some of the voices.

  • How to leverage AI: Benchmarked how different startups and tech companies are leveraging AI both internally, to make processes more efficient, and externally to create new products. 

  • Financial audit: Supported the finance team on conducting the financial audit for our general expenses.

Super exciting! Could you tell us what you’ve learned during this internship? 

Simon : Working closely with founders and senior Alaners exposes you to unmatched talent density, and experienced profiles I’ve learnt a tremendous amount of things from. 

It ranges from transversal topics like the importance of building a strong company culture, the benefits of never censoring your uncomfortably ambitious ideas to better innovate… to the scrappy, biased to action methodology allowing us to move fast and prioritize getting things done above everything else. 

Being Charles' associate was also a true entrepreneurial lesson in the era of AI

Alan being among the french AI leaders in health and insurance, its founders always had early, visionary strategic thinking about this technology. 

As a result, working with them has taught me so much about how a company concretely transforms its products and processes with AI : do more with less, to go faster and further. 

I believe that this immersive experience in strategic and product thinking brought a lot to my engineering background. I’ve learned new notions, dynamics and logic in a much more intense way than if I had chosen a double degree with a business school. 

Of course, I’ve also learned a lot technically. LLMs represent such a technological shift from traditional supervised machine learning, that all rules set in my academic background were reset. Working with methods like Retrieval Augmented Generation, dynamic prompting, zero-shot/few-shot classification… taught me a new way of building AI based products

What is the typical profile?

There is no exact typical profile. We abide by our leadership principles, stating that  “we hire people, not roles”. So far we have had profiles both from business and engineering schools. 

We look for profiles that showcase strong curiosity, passion for Alan’s mission and tech innovation. Profiles that do not fear to autonomously dig deeper in subjects that can get technical. 

You don’t need to know how to code. It’s always a nice plus as it often accounts for a “builder” mindset and strong tech knowledge, but Founder Associates are the ones choosing the subject they work on. Simon chose to get technical, but Francesca, Gregoire and Lancelot didn’t. 

Gregoire and Francesca had both engineering backgrounds but were deeply interested in more business related topics. Gregoire had worked for McKinsey before joining Alan, and Francesca had founded a fintech start-up during her studies. Lancelot, on his side, had a business background and had worked in strategy, finance and sales, but had passion for tech !

Simon : with an engineering background too, I had experience in deep learning research but wanted to take a step back and have a more “hybrid” experience. I wanted to improve my product and business sense, yet in a technical environment where I’d be able to handle end to end projects. 

What are the next steps after a CTO FA internship?

Simon : It really depends on your profile ! For example, as a gap year student, I've decided to dedicate the remaining few months before going back to school to keep on exploring new horizons. I’ll be working as a software engineer at an early-stage startup in the Renewable Energy sector.

Grégoire and Francesca had already finished their studies, and chose to stay at Alan : Grégoire is now working as a Product Manager for the adoption of our health services, and Francesca is part of the Business Strategy & Operations community, working on strategy planning. 

Lancelot had also finished his studies, and now works as the Chief of Staff to Frederic Mazzela, the founder of Blablacar! 

In any case, the internship has strongly influenced our early careers and will keep doing so in the future. 

You want to join us?

If you enjoyed this blogpost, cannot wait for your next challenge and feel like Alan should be your next adventure

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Published on 29/02/2024

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