Matthieu Pasquier, CEO of Societe Generale European Business Services, a company of over 2500 employees that provides high-quality professional services in various fields of activity to Group entities around the world (finance & accounting, human resources, IT and Know Your Customer).
How did you start your career? Which were your first steps? How did you envision your career?
I started in Societe Generale in September 1991 as an IT developer in the General Inspection department in Paris. The main driver for accepting the position was that the HR recruiter indicated that this position would incur travels linked to audit assignments. At the time I was seeing myself traveling and eventually having an IT job. It’s true that for the first 4 years I travelled a lot inside Paris, between the various Head-Office buildings, doing technical assignment. However, I enjoyed very much discovering the various activities of the bank through the IT angle: assignments on payments, robustness of Group BCP, participating to the assessment of the IT setup of another bank in the frame of a global acquisition. Finally, in ’95 came my first assignment outside of France (Morocco, then Russia in ‘95), in ‘96 I was promoted Head of the IT department of Inspection, hence discovering Management dimension. Finally I had my last assignment in ‘99 in South Africa and decided to accept a position in SG in Johannesburg, as Head Securities Services operation, away from IT! There I developed my interest for larger team management processes (leveraging on my IT background) and, obviously, traveling! This led me then to Luxemburg (still in operations), then India (service centre and operations) and now in Bucharest as CEO of SG EBS and Head of Retail and Financial Services delivered out of our GBS centres.
What were your key career moments (those that had an impact on your professional journey)?
I would say that the job in the General Inspection department in Paris and the positions in the Services Centres from India and Romania. These jobs allowed me to have a transversal view on the banks activities and forced me to continuously learn new activities.
What is the best three most valuable career lessons you have learned?
- Look for a mix of vertical promotions and horizontal job changes, this will allow you to acquire diverse knowledge. For me for example the change from IT to operations, diverse operations to be exact, was big, but it helped me develop new expertise without limiting my choices for career evolution.
- Continuously LEARN! From the first time you have a job, start learning new activities, adapt to new environments. Everything around you could be a possible lesson for further develop our career and your personality.
- Be open to new concepts, new people (for example: diversity) and don’t forget to BE CURIOUS!
Why did you choose Business Service Industry? What were top 3 reasons for choosing SG EBS?
Not sure I chose the service industry, I happened to be in a business that had to be offshored to India in a new service centre. A centre which wasn’t even build and I had to open, lead and also grow new activities than the core one I was already in charge of at the time. The challenge was crazy enough for me to immediately accept. After, more than the activity itself, I enjoyed the multicultural challenge of having new business offshored from France, Luxemburg, Germany, Ireland or UK. Regarding SG EBS, the main reason for accepting the new position was my desire for discovering new cultures.
What are your/your company’s plans for 2020?
2020 will be another important year for our development. We are planning to move part of our activities into a new building, in a different location and we will continue our growth.
What does this growth actually mean? Besides bringing new colleagues, we are becoming a global company with each new project that has worldwide stakeholders. Our services help not just European entities, but also worldwide entities and for this year the focus will be to bring more and more similar projects and position SG EBS as a global centre.
What do you think would be the keywords of the year for managers in the Business Services industry? Automation? Cutting costs?
I think there are 2 directions: one related to the relationship between the company and the environment around it and the other, of course, with focus on technology.
The first direction will include keywords like responsible employer. Companies will be more responsible regarding the environment and the communities around them. More sustainable projects, more involvement in supporting humanitarian causes, awareness for employees and offering them the possibility to get involved in helping the communities they are part of.
The second direction is about technology. Already everyone is talking about Data and Transformation. There is so much information around us and only the companies that will know how to manage it, filter it and use it, will continue on the market. Of course, if you know how to use this Data, you will understand that Transformation is needed. Digital transformation to be exact. From the daily task to totally new tool, we all need to update our way of working and include technology in our everyday activity.
All these together lead us to a new keyword: Ownership. If you have the support of the communities around you and if you are up to date with the new technologies and you managed to transform your activities, you will be able to have full ownership on more and more global projects.
Tell us a little bit about your private life. Tell us about your passions, family. What do you do to relax?
I’m married with 2 children, a 12 years old girl and a 13 years old boy. I love dedicating time to and for my family and we enjoy a lot of things together, such as hiking, photographing, practicing scuba diving and, of course, we all are big fans of travelling. This is how we discover new horizons, we encounter new people, we learn about new cultures and we create everlasting memories. When it comes to relaxation I prefer cooking and listening to music, but I also enjoy long walks with the family, which includes our dog, of course and watching rugby – this is something I would love to practice again someday.
If you were starting now your career, knowing the present and near future opportunities, what would you do? What career would you pursue?
I would again start in the IT industry, it offers the opportunity to develop your analytical thinking and also allows you to bring a bit of creativity to your daily work. Then, I would probably move to a job in the tourism sector which would allow me to move in many countries and continue my passion of different cultures and environments. In any case I can only think about what I could do in the coming 3 to 5 years, let’s not forget that by 2030 more the 70 % of the actual jobs might not exist.
What are the top 3 skills that you would develop?
Considering the above career choices, when starting a new career I would probably develop an innovative mindset, people management skills and of course, IT and banking products & services knowledge.
What would you do and what would you avoid doing? – practical advice to young professionals.
Considering my experiences and my career path, I would advise the young professionals to have the courage to change their activity, even its just horizontally, every 3 years in order to broaden their knowledge. Only after a couple of career changes can you say that you are close to becoming an expert in a certain direction. Other advice would be to develop your network. We live in an era where changing your country it’s a very doable thing so, new connections and relations can bring you closer to the perfect job for you and can offer you access to new information in order to further develop for career.
And last, but definitely not least, you should have fun every day. Work is better and you will be better at your job if you do it with passion and if you are happy with what to have to do daily. If you are not, if you dread your job, maybe a career change is in order.