Present your profession and its role within the organisation. What are the main highlights of your business over the year?
I graduated from a business school (specialised in business management) and I'm currently "Engagement Manager", responsible for the follow-up of Azqore's Prime clients within the Project Delivery Services department based in Lausanne, Switzerland. For me, supporting Azqore in its transformation is the main strategic challenge that we have in common with our client banks. It is a continuous challenge but an exciting one, requiring strong commitment as a Business Partner. The IT world is by default one where women are clearly not a majority, a bit like the international trading sector where I worked for several years. With a rather masculine training curriculum, we find more men than women in IT companies. In spite of the growing openness to women, they remain under-represented in "Top Management" bodies.
The job of "Engagement Manager" lives up to its name: it requires strong commitment and is above all centred around client satisfaction. It requires great responsiveness, organisational skills, a cross-business vision of the clients’ needs, and the ability to anticipate and support them in their development. It is an activity with no timeout and an intense pace of work, but in a pleasant atmosphere. I’m lucky to work in our business’ core where everything happens and I'm passionate about what I do.
What is your career path? How did you manage your different career developments?
I have a rather unusual background. Some people know very early what they want to do with their lives, for me this was clearly not the case. When I look back at my career path, I would say that I have had an incredible opportunity to meet some great people who have allowed me to evolve and take on new challenges. Nothing predestined me to work in the banking industry which didn’t really appeal to me back then. But like we say: "Never say never".
After my studies, I started my career as a stewardess in a private aviation company, which allowed me to master the English language. Thanks to my proficiency in English, I had the opportunity to join a Turkish banking group as an internal controller. This experience allowed me to meet the person who would later give me the chance to enter the world of International Trading. It is thanks to these experiences and challenges that I joined the Crédit Agricole group in Switzerland almost 19 years ago. I worked for 12 years in the Risks department, holding several positions including "Operational Controller for International Trading". Afterwards, I was offered a position in the Compliance department, always in connection with International Trading, and it was this experience that enabled me to join Azqore in 2017.
I would say that my career path is passionate, the result of incredible encounters and challenges taken up without ever regretting any of the choices that brought me to where I am today.
Was being a woman an asset or handicap in your career? How do you manage your personal and professional life?
I never considered that being a woman could be a handicap or an asset in my professional career. I sincerely believe that gender diversity is a key instrument for a company’s success. Men and women are not necessarily like-minded, which leads to great complementarity. I have worked a lot in masculine professional environments without ever having any problem. Although my professional advancement has probably been slower than a man’s, everything comes to those who are patient and this is clearly what has worked for me.
My career choice required will, determination and resilience, but above all, a strong involvement that would not have been possible without support and backing: it is a shared success. It is often said that "Behind every great man there is a great woman" but I would also agree that: "Behind every great woman there is a great man”.
Being a professionally committed woman requires a fine balance between private and professional life, but it has never required any sacrifices on my part. I have never had to choose between my life as a woman or mother and my career, because for me it is a whole that contibutes to my fulfillment. Nevertheless, it is necessary to define priorities that can change over time in order to maintain this balance.
How do you view the company's evolution in terms of gender diversity? In concrete terms, what initiatives do you and your teams take on a daily basis to make progress in the area of gender diversity?
I am pleased to see that the new generations of women are much more comfortable with combining, or not, a professional career and a family life, without complexes or guilt. Mentalities are changing, certainly not fast enough... But I note that the trend is moving in the right direction with concrete measures undertaken within the Group. In the future, however, I would like to see these actions perceived as normal, not extraordinary, putting forward women who wish to progress in their careers with appropriate support.
I also like to talk to my women colleagues, most of whom have great ambitions and a strong desire to get involved in order to help the company and its mentality evolve. Encouragement and listening are key elements that I try to establish at my level to help them pursue their paths.
I find that "gender-diversity" in businesses is the new buzzword and yet it should not come as a surprise to see a company evolve and with more women in important positions, and not just to respect quotas but as a way to recognise the skills acquired and brought to the company.
Sharing experience remains a key element for me and should allow progress towards equality. There are still few women members of the Executive Committees in the different entities of the Group and it is still very rare to see a woman offered a position of responsibility when she wants to start a family.
What advice would you give to younger generations?
My advice would be to trust themselves and always stay focused on their ambitions! To know how to take risks, not to be afraid of change, which often brings new opportunities. To take up new challenges, express expectations, cultivate personality, know-how and interpersonal skills, because having a professional life is essential for the fulfilment of women and the society.