How the New Generation talks, Collaborates and Helps Build Success


It's no surprise the most successful organizations are those that leverage talent from every level. But an important question in today's competitive marketplace is, just how do you maximize talent from junior employees ?

Societe Generale is using an innovative approach to do just that through RE:Generation, the bank's newest Employee Resource Group (ERG).

Formed in March by SG's Sean O'Brien, Shelley Pressman, Dalila Castillo Brown and Dan Berman, RE:Generation leverages junior employee talent and networks to build community among young SG professionals and improve communication across all departments. It also hopes to tap into the strengths of each generation at SG.

O'Brien said the goal for RE:Generation is to "break down silos" that inevitably occur in every large organization. Often, junior employees have a question or need some expertise within the bank but don't know where to turn, that’s where RE:Generation comes in, helping its junior members develop relationships with their peers and connect their combined networks across the organization.

"A community like RE:Generation can save time and strengthen relations among various departments," said O'Brien, a project manager at SG Americas in New York. "That can really drive efficiency."

Inter-generational Innovation

But RE:Generation’s mission goes beyond networking. It also focuses on creating intergenerational collaboration to maximize talents across the bank's business lines.

For RE:Generation founders, the goal is to cross generational lines and create productive relationships. More communication spanning different generations can introduce many opportunities ranging from a senior employee mentoring a junior, to a junior “reverse mentoring” someone more senior, to a manager welcoming a fresh perspective on a team project.

"It's a two-way street," said Pressman, a model risk associate at SG Americas in New York. "Juniors have a lot to offer senior level management and senior level management has a lot of experience that juniors can leverage and learn from."

There is validation for the concept of mixing generations in the workplace. A recent study by Cloverpop showed that decision making teams met or exceeded expectations an astounding 73 percent of the time when they are made up of a wide range of age groups (i.e. 25 years or more). However, when the decision-making team is made up of a narrow range of age groups (i.e. 10 years or less), they only met or exceeded expectations 35% of the time. RE:Generation's vision also plays into the largest demographic shift in history. Millennials numbered 56 million in 2017 and represented 35 percent of the American workforce - the largest generation in the workforce, according to the Pew Research Center.

Keeping this generation engaged and offering opportunities to build the community and contribute to projects will be critical to any firm's long-term goals.

"In my opinion, when people feel more connected to others in the company, they tend to stay at that company, care more about it, and are more committed," O'Brien said.

Community Building

For Pressman, RE:Generation is also about creating a community that extends past first-year analysts. For most Wall Street firms, every year involves a "new class" of junior hires who go through orientation and other entry-level trainings. But in many cases, that’s the end of their time together. Bonds weaken and eventually many move to jobs elsewhere. RE:Generation hopes to break that pattern and create a group that helps connect employees when they need it most, in the early years of their Societe Generale careers after analyst orientation.

RE:Generation’s membership focus doesn’t stop there. The group attracts newcomers to SG Americas – outside hires or transfers from SG’s other global offices – who don’t have a deep local network. It also welcomes employees who have been with the bank but are looking to expand their own internal network. Even veteran professionals looking to hear what is on the minds of juniors are invited. To date, RE:Generation already has received interest from more than 270 colleagues at Societe Generale Americas.

Every Employee Resource Group is sponsored by a senior executive and Pierre Osterrath, Chief Risk Officer at SG Americas, was supportive of RE:Generation from the first pitch. His first question after buying into the idea was, "What about fun?"

To answer that question, RE:Generation is inviting employees to join original and creative events that help answer questions and build on key skills such as public speaking, leadership and broadening friendships and relationships. An SG trivia game show is in the works, and the door is wide open for new ideas.

Pressman and O'Brien also believe RE:Generation fits with SG's corporate values of: innovation, team spirit, responsibility and commitment."SG doesn't just post its core values on the wall," O'Brien said. "Here, you really see it in everything we do. It's impressive that our culture really is defined by these positive words."

Damian Smith, Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer, Americas, recognizes the benefits of the ERG. “We approved the RE:Generation ERG because we believe in diversity and inclusion at all levels. With the intense competition for talent in the banking sector, having a focus on multigenerational diversity ensures we attract and retain the best talent possible.”