Tribute to Robert Janvrin

Eiffage Group

Robert Janvrin, who passed away on 26 April, enjoyed a brilliant career in construction, marked by numerous iconic projects in both France and Asia. 

Robert graduated as an engineer from the École Supérieur du Bois (ESB) in Paris in 1973, and following his early experience with SGE, which included the hospital in Besançon, he travelled to Singapore in 1982 on a project to build 10,000 apartments, headed by Richard Bouvier and supported by Jacques Huillard. Projects followed in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Réunion. In 1987, Richard Bouvier was appointed to SAE International to take up the challenge of building the China World Trade Center, which was affected by the events of Beijing Spring 1989. Robert immediately offered to join him as construction manager, and in 1990, they would successfully deliver one of the largest and most fascinating building projects in Eiffage’s history.  

Robert then returned to France for seven years, during which time he gained new experience in Waste Management and helped create the Orly Airport West expansion project. He returned to Asia in 1997, this time to the Philippines, where for four years he oversaw construction of the Pacific Plaza Towers. 

Taking responsibility, travelling the world and working at the international level were all part of Robert’s insatiable thirst to learn and to understand.

He returned to France for good in 2001, where he continued to manage extremely large-scale projects, including the Greater Paris water treatment plant in Valenton, and hospital complexes in Limoges, Quimper, Rodez, Dijon and Saint-Nazaire, one of the very first long-term hospital lease PPP projects, where Robert’s qualities transcended team boundaries and enabled delivery of the hospital on time and on budget. 

A dedicated teacher with unique experience, from 2015 onward, Robert Janvrin led the Turnkey Projects training courses alongside Jean-Michel Grave. During this time, he taught several new generations of Eiffage managers not only the fundamental principles of managing major projects, but also the values that he embodied throughout his career and that enabled him to complete the projects he took on so successfully: courage, loyalty and listening. 

Eager to pass on his knowledge, Robert was president of the ESB for nine years, enabling it to take on a whole new dimension. Building a team, implementing professional licences and creating apprenticeships for engineers, he established the foundations of a new development strategy: to make the ESB a flagship higher education establishment and internationally recognised business development partner.
The university’s board pays him glowing tribute: “Robert supported us with his advice, his kindness, and above all, his humility and faith in humanity.”
Robert was a good man, attentive to others and always ready with a helping hand. He was an active member of the Château-Gontier Rotary Club and its president in 2015-2016, and was the assistant governor of the Bretagne Mayenne district from 2019 onward. He had recently been elected as regional governor for 2023-2024.

He had also recently united local businesses and decision-makers in Château-Gontier in the creation of a mechanical engineering training school for young people facing exclusion from the education system.

Robert used to say that all his responsibilities were an opportunity for him to meet fine men and women who helped him to grow. 

We remember Robert fondly as an open, approachable, attentive man, kind and always open to requests – an informal, easy-going man who called everyone by their first name. A friendly man who loved a discussion, a loyal friend and brother. 

Our thoughts are with his wife and children, his grandchildren and family.