Engine that drives human potential – interview with Matthieu Pasquier, CEO SG EBS
Blitz talk with Matthieu Pasquier| CEO of SG EBS
Carmen Oprea – Dear Mr. Matthieu Pasquier, you are celebrating one year since you have taken over as CEO of SG EBS, one of the major player in the Romanian shared service industry. This is a crucial role for the present and the future of the company. What were the most important drivers that have accompanied you in this journey?
Matthieu Pasquier – Coming in SG EBS with my background experience from Societe Generale hub in India, I could say I was very positively surprised by the people that I found here in Romania. When returning to Europe, I was expecting to encounter a Latin European way of thinking, more pessimistic and reluctant behaviors. However, I’ve discovered very constructive attitude among the teams, people who are willing to do things, smiling and energetic, probably considering the average age of 30 years, but not only due to it. Going further into the business context, what is captivating about the talent pool here in Bucharest is the fact that we can do very sophisticated activities with the local resources. We can take more risks here in Romania and bring more added value in what we deliver to our partners. It is interesting that Romania next to Poland, is being perceived different among European countries, because it has started to bring more value in the fields of innovation, IT security and development, even if labor arbitrage still represents an important subject for the clients.
CO – You have been talking about positive aspects found here. Did you have any surprises?
MP – Not really, because the general set-up of the company is quite mature and even young activities like the ones in KYC perimeter are delivering well. We could improve by accelerating the ownership, especially for the mature activities, to be able to have more global roles and process owners here in SG EBS. People are prepared, it is just a matter of establishing the trust with the onshore partners.
CO – You are a French executive coming to Romania after 5 years of working experience in India, 6 years in Africa and several years in France and Luxembourg. How this very rich international exposure has impacted your leadership style?
MP – For sure it has had a valuable influence, and a very important experience for me was the one in Luxembourg. There I had managed a team of 120 people, 23 nationalities, 17 different languages. This experience led to my belief that diversity and intercultural mixes are both beneficial and constructive for the business environment. Obviously, I am passionate about intercultural challenges. I have lived them also in the South Africa in a very specific environment, with black and white people, Muslims, Jewish and Christians, all performing together in a very positive working relationship. I clearly saw the benefits of diversity during my entire career. Coming back to nowadays Europe, this experience brought me the ability to look at and to leverage on the differences between people for the benefit of the teams. SG EBS is constantly committed to improve the diversity of the teams in terms of gender, nationality and language capacities.
CO – A big company of over 2,000 employees’ needs solid strategies, clear roles and responsibilities, on one hand, while on the other hand, acting in a dynamic service sector, it is important that it keeps an appetence for agility, change and flexibility. Humans’ behavior has a certain immunity to change. What is your leadership ingredient to keep the balance between all those needs in the organization?
MP – The most important ingredient is to understand that one category does not exclude the other. If we look at the new generations (Y, Z), we find out that this people appreciate more the horizontal leadership style that connect people across organizational boundaries and old silos. They don’t have a default appetite for control, they can even reject it, but once they understand the rules and policies of the organization they accept and apply them. Agility in my view comes along with strong and well-known norms and strategies, because the strongest those are, the more comfortable the organizational environment become, offering the possibility to act rapidly within the existing accepted framework. Trust in people on the other hand is an important and valuable ingredient for any leader.
CO – What would be the right balance between them from your perspective?
MP – In a way, the more we supervise wisely our activities, the more we can open to the constantly creation and re-creation of the normative framework that serves us, while giving ourselves the permission to learn from the mistakes. The balance would be to create and maintain a continuous learning mindset within the organization and within the teams and for sure we need the trust ingredient for it.
CO – One of the most impressive things about you is your passion for decreasing negative human impact on the environment. What this value represents for you and how environmental responsibility can influence human relationships within an organization?
MP – For me, this represents both an individual and collective responsibility. It is a characteristic that people have when they understand the motivation behind it and not when they are imposed with it. One of the reasons that makes me feel proud working in Societe Generale Group is the fact that it has the courage to bring the corporate social responsibility as a significant core value. In my opinion, in Romania, the social responsibility is also well perceived, and we can see good progress in the implementation of it. Still, I think this value is generational and the new wave of consciousness is pushing everyone to act, even though each country has a higher or lower level of awareness. The Y and Z generations are extremely conscious of it and they even want politics to be driven by the value of environmental caring. All the countries, including Romania will be obliged to catch up and the state institutions will have to adjust to this new paradigm.
CO – You think this is a value that in the end can bring us together?
MP – Yes, definitely. It has already brought us together in several successful initiatives of the company. I am confident that the level of consciousness around CSR will increase and I can assure you that it is clearly a priority for me and for SG EBS.
CO – The Value Proposition program has brought together a human attribute as YOU near business indicators as excellence, service delivery, digital transformation and innovation. Why YOU and what does it stands from?
MP – When the program was built at the network level, I was in favor of bringing YOU in the center of it. The human attribute was always part of RESG DNA. It was initially set-it up as a service culture, then it has been transformed naturally into the new program. Briefly, I do consider that we need to give the same level of attention both to our people and to our partners, this balance will bring us around our values and then will lead to delivering better services. The human component is clearly where it belongs – right at the core of the program.
Coming back to the responsibility that we have, corelated with the fact that we spoke about innovation, we know that we will face a drastic change in the job structure in the coming years. Thus, studies say that in the following 5-10 years, 30% of the people will do a job that does not exist yet and 70% of the jobs that will be performed in 2030 do not exist now. It means that our responsibility is huge, we are now 2,000 employees and probably by 2030, more than 50% of the jobs that we are currently performing will no longer exist, but we will still be 2,000 doing something else or different activities. Our concern is how to reskill / upskill / reclassify the people for the new jobs, in a stable and sustainable approach. That also means that young people working in SG EBS will have to understand this concern and to grow the ability to change and constantly adapt to the business environment needs.
To summarize, the concept of YOU comes from the fact that our organization is based on people and FOR YOU represents our commitment to accompany them through changes.
CO – Reorganizations, continuous improvement, system migrations, strategic projects are few key words extracted from your CV. How teams can be motivated to actively participate in those types of complex projects?
MP – Hmm… this is an interesting point. It means that all my experience from the past 28 years has helped me to progress and is still helping me at this moment, because I have performed similar types of transitions and activities that people are currently doing in SG EBS. Consequently, I relate on this knowledge and practice to understand their current challenges because I have been in similar business contexts. Even though the activities have changed and progressed, we are still facing the same types of issues at a new level.
CO – Nowadays, all successful organizations and leaders are strongly preoccupied to discover and grow the human potential. From your perspective, which is the engine that drives human potential?
MP – For me, it is the pace of change. My generation was motivated about performance, efficiency, delivering results. Maybe the youngest generation will be motivated by something else, which will be more around responsibility, CSR and/or other social aspects. Our mission is to deliver excellence, so we will still be doing that. From my perspective it is a passionate challenge – how do we make sure to combine the ability to deliver excellence in a responsible environment. This is and will be a key driver for the next 5 to 10 years.
Interview by Carmen Oprea | ICF ACC (Associate Certified Coach)
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