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Handover at the CERN Ombud’s Office


Laure Esteveny hands the keys to the Ombud’s office to Marie-Luce Falipou in front of the office's door.

Laure Esteveny (left) hands the keys to the Ombud’s office to Marie-Luce Falipou, whose new role begins on 1 May. (Image: CERN)

The CERN Ombud’s Office was established in 2010 to provide the entire CERN community with support in resolving conflicts informally, in a consensual and impartial manner. Since then, several Ombuds have held the position, which is now firmly anchored at the Laboratory. On 1 May, Marie-Luce Falipou, the fifth CERN Ombud, will take up her duties. She takes over from Laure Esteveny, who has been in the role since April 2021 and is taking early retirement.

As they prepared for the handover, Laure and Marie-Luce agreed to answer the Bulletin team’s questions.

The Bulletin: Laure, what drove you to become Ombud?

Laure: I began my career as Ombud in 2021, after 35 years working in different departments of the Organization. I was attracted by the human side of the role, and I haven’t been disappointed. I’m extremely happy to have been able to serve out my career as CERN Ombud. It’s very rewarding to help people to overcome a conflict.

The Bulletin: What do you need to succeed in this role?

Laure: When they take up their duties, all new CERN Ombuds follow the training courses run by the International Ombuds Association (IAO) and also receive training in mediation. This is clearly essential, but the skills I acquired throughout my career at CERN have also been invaluable. You need to have good analytical skills and be very thorough to succeed in this role.

Pierre Gildemyn, my predecessor, also supported me a lot. He was always available to answer my questions and shared his own experience as Ombud with me. I, in turn, am available for Marie-Luce; I will be delighted to help her. I would also urge her to turn to the IAO for support and to all the professional ombud networks, especially that of the United Nations and Related International Organizations (UNARIO) – ombuds are very good at supporting each other.

The Bulletin: Have you encountered any difficulties?

Laure: The role of Ombud is very rewarding on the human level. If I had to name a difficulty, I would say that the isolation that inevitably comes with the role is not always easy to cope with. In addition, by definition, the Ombud is only exposed to problematic situations in which people are suffering – to the “Dark Side of the Force” – which can sometimes be a heavy burden.

The Bulletin: Marie-Luce, what brought you to this role?

Marie-Luce: I’ve known Pierre and Laure for a long time, and I’ve seen them thrive in the role of Ombud, for which they developed a real passion. It’s a privilege to be the next to take on this role.

I’ve spent my whole career at CERN, 35 years now, in the Human Resources department. I’ve held various positions, notably HRA (human resources adviser) for 13 years, so I’m very familiar with the workplace culture. I’ve also been trained in active listening – skills that will certainly be very useful in my new position. For me, becoming Ombud is really a natural evolution, even if the role is of course unique.

The Bulletin: You take up your duties on 1 May, but you don’t become Ombud overnight, I imagine?

Marie-Luce: Indeed, I’ll take the necessary time to prepare myself for this new role, which is really something out of the ordinary and something with which I need to familiarise myself. I’m aware of the importance and the impact that the Ombud can have, and I’m humbled and grateful to accept this responsibility.

Le Bulletin: As the new Ombud, what message would you like to send to the CERN community?

Marie-Luce: I want people to know that the Ombud’s office is a safe, calm place where they will be listened to in confidence and understood. The Ombud is there to serve all members of the CERN community, regardless of their role in the Organization. Questions, problems and conflicts are part and parcel of life, including in the workplace. Finding the best way to handle them can make a big difference, and that’s where the Ombud can help.

The Bulletin: Any final words?

Marie-Luce: I’d like to say a big thank you to Laure for sharing her experience with me and for offering me her support; it’s a precious resource to have someone experienced to turn to.

Laure: Thank you to all those who placed their trust in me, and I wish Marie-Luce all the best!

The Bulletin: A big thank you to you both!


The Ombud is available from Monday to Friday in office B500/1-004 on the Meyrin site. To make an appointment, in person or online, contact the Ombud at ombuds@cern.ch.

More information can be found on the Ombud’s website: https://ombuds.web.cern.ch