Societe Generale and Me: Societe Generale Analysts Tell Us Why They Love Working for the Bank
Five first-year analysts recently sat down for a roundtable discussion about their experiences working at Societe Generale. What follows are edited excerpts of that conversation.
What drew you to Societe Generale?
Athira Haridas – ITEC: During campus recruitment process of my junior year, I was looking for a company where I would have a lot of responsibility at an entry level, and I found that at SG. I felt like I'd be a cog in the machine somewhere else. I also find it interesting to work in a French company, to be able to hear French being spoken, while also pursuing my interest in finance.
Kevin Ho – GLFI: During campus recruitment I had the opportunity to meet a lot of different SG employees. Everybody was very open and helpful in terms of telling me what the job and responsibilities would look like. I was very happy when I got the job to find out all my expectations were met.
Kiran Jones – MARK: SG didn't come to my campus to recruit, so I found out about them through my work at another French company. People talked about how interesting the people were and that it would be a place to get a lot of opportunity. After going through the interview process, I realized that everything people were saying was correct.
How would you describe SG?
Athira: No. 1 is teamwork, No. 2 is culture, and No. 3 is community.
Jessica Jackson – OPER: Fun, helpful, competent. Every team I've interacted with, everybody I've hung out with here or gotten the chance to shadow, has been really down to earth. I've only been here a month now and I feel like I can ask them anything and talk about anything.
Kiran: Inclusive, team spirit and diverse. I'm on a desk with three people who were born in France, one born in Barcelona, two from Morocco, one from India and I'm from Durham, North Carolina.
Kevin: We're constantly reminded to challenge each other and become better. And my manager constantly reminds me that regardless of what I want to do in the future, she'll support me, whether that means switching to another department or having a different function within my team.
Sergina: Almost every single project I've ever worked on included working with all the different stakeholders, which means speaking to different people; getting different perspectives so that it's a more holistic approach that shows the different perspectives of the business.
How do those qualities translate into your job day-to-day?
Athira: In IT we don't really talk directly to clients, but our team spirit comes from our daily stand-ups (meetings). There's a strong sense of team for a division that you would normally think would just be people sitting at computers and writing code. Having this sense of team spirit is the biggest benefit of SG that I've seen, and it's a sharp contrast to what I know of IT at other companies. It is a French bank, but they work hard to acknowledge other cultures with various events. As someone from an Indian background, I appreciate the diversity and the team spirit.
Kevin: Being able to go to any of my coworkers with a question, even if it's very minor, I know they'll get back to me quickly. That promotes a good learning culture. That was something that I was looking for in an employer.
Jessica: I came here as a French and economics major. My boss said, "I don't expect you to know all of this, but I do expect you to learn." And that's been true of all three teams I've worked on. That's definitely part of the culture.
I've heard friends at other banks and other companies say they don't feel comfortable asking questions. I know that I have a team that will answer any question in a way that doesn't make me feel stupid.
Athira: SG to me stands for inclusion. We have all sorts of organizations for minorities and our teams are global and diverse. I come from a minority background, and as a woman in banking, I'm part of another minority. So I appreciate that the culture and the community that I work in and the team that I work on are as inclusive as possible.
Sergina: The culture very much encourages you to meet as many people as possible and learn about other parts of the business. That's important for two reasons: It gives you a better understanding of the business as a whole, and it's part of their being supportive of you looking for the next step in your career.
Kiran: When I go outside of my own desk to people who don't know me well, they're always receptive and eager to answer all of my questions. Everyone is invested in your success and progress.
How does SG encourage mobility within the Bank?
Kevin: SG is focusing on retaining young junior talent by helping people identify different opportunities and encouraging you to explore them. We just hired three new analysts in the natural resource department and all three will be going through rotations throughout the department. That kind of mobility is important to me, and I think will be for future candidates as well.
Sergina: I had an opportunity to meet my new manager at Analyst Day. I was able to meet some analysts on the investment banking team and learn more about team dynamics, and what they work on. Then I was able to prepare for the interview process, and I'll be making the transition to that team. That's only possible because both my current team and my future one were very supportive and helpful.
How did SG help you prepare for your transition to your full-time job?
Jessica: I'm not a finance major, so having Analyst Week, a whole week of talking about different financial products, equities, stocks, helped me gain exposure to the different products of finance. I also liked being around the other first-year analysts, so I could learn from them, not just the professor.
I also got the opportunity to meet people who were going to be working in Chicago, Brazil, Canada – a lot of different SG offices. So I have contacts now, which will be helpful going forward in my career here.
Kevin: The analyst program was a great way to discover all the different departments within SG and, more importantly, get a sense of how they work together. Meeting a variety of kids from different colleges, different backgrounds, and different departments was a great opportunity to build my network. I still leverage all the connections that I met.
Kiran: I came from a sociology background so the analyst training program really helped me get up to speed. And it did a good job of fostering a sense of community among the analysts.
Jessica: I'm in operations, and when you think of operations, you don't usually think trading or anything front office related. The trading simulation was very dynamic with people banging their fists and running around the room. It was fun, it was interesting, and it was very cool to have hands-on trading experience. Even though that's not what I'm going to be doing day to day, it's cool to get a holistic picture of the bank and look beyond the focus of our own teams.
What keeps you excited about coming to work every day?
Kevin: Being in a finance role, we're not saving lives but we're generating a lot of value and creating opportunities not only for ourselves but for the clients that we serve. Being able to provide value and give them advice is very rewarding.
Sergina: Every day is different. There is always a new challenge or a new subject to figure out and find a solution for. From the day I joined the desk, I felt support and I was encouraged to learn and work hard in order to make a difference.
Kiran: You can make a real impact on whatever team you're on, and you can really help them out and make SG as a whole function better. There's always something going on whether it's political, geopolitical, financial, and that means I'm never going to come in and do the exact same thing I did the day before.
Jessica: I love SG because I feel like from the moment I got here, from my first summer, they've invested in me. I was given a mentor my first summer and then my second summer here and I still talk to them. I still get coffee with them, ask them the dumb questions. And I feel like they have been very helpful in getting me to think about what impact I want to have on SG, but also how SG can help me.
Athira: Working in tech, it's the innovation culture that we have. There is no one holding you back if you have a good idea.
What would you say to someone who was thinking about joining SG?
Kevin: I'd one hundred percent recommend all my friends to join the firm. And I feel like the firm offers a great learning platform for young students to really dive in and learn a lot within a short time frame. Management is very supportive and very open to innovation and new ideas, making for a really good learning environment.
Kiran: There are a lot of opportunities that you can find here that aren't necessarily everywhere else. My team has always stressed they want me to be able to do everything that they can do. To help facilitate that, a couple months ago my bosses rearranged our desks so I'd sit right between them. I hear every conversation, every decision, and any time I have a question, they are all ears.
Sergina: Throughout college we were told find a job where you can be given responsibility and add value. SG is one of the only places where, the second you join, you are given responsibility and are accountable for every project you do.
Athira: I appreciate the support for work-life balance. My commute is about an hour and a half each way. After talking with my manager, I'm able to come in earlier so I can leave earlier and work from home some days.
Jessica: I play lacrosse and my team usually practices Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 pm. SG and my work team give me the support and the opportunity to leave work at 6pm so I can go and play lacrosse and not have my life completely taken over by work.