“This article was first published in the IE Careers Blog”
Sixtine Perriau Haas is a French IE Master in Management 2017 candidate with two bachelor degrees in Economics and Social Sciences and in Foreign Languages from Paris Diderot University, with an exchange year in Melbourne University (Australia). Before coming to IE she had several internships in Argentina and Spain. She first started as a sales and marketing intern for Farlabo, a Madrid based company which distributes high end cosmetics and perfumes to the Spanish market. Recently she worked as a business consultant in a chamber of commerce in Buenos Aires. The organisation aimed at enhancing the international growth of Argentinian medium sized firms, with up to 60 companies in portfolio. This was by far her most instructive professional experience, she got to lead a team of six interns over diverse market researches projects. In a matter of months, they built a project for a multi-sectorial business trip to India for 8 companies from diverse industries. She tells us “overall, it was very interesting to perform in Argentina’s complex economic environment: the country was in transition to Macri’s government after Krichner era, experienced 40% inflation rate and a tough social fracture.”
She has been admitted into the General Inspection Program at Société Générale in Paris and will start upon graduation. She explains how “this new job at Société Générale will be a significant change as it will be my first experience in the banking industry. Financial theory fascinates me and I look forward to learning practical techniques to apply my knowledge. In addition, I would be located in Paris, my hometown, after having been abroad for a while.”
Q: Can you please tell us briefly about your new job?
A: To start with, Société Générale is a French multinational banking and financial services company headquartered in Paris. The General Inspection is a 3 to 6 years’ program which consists in a broad variety of missions, in France and abroad, covering the bank’s various business lines. I got very interested in this position because of it is a generalist role which offers a lot of variety in the nature of the work to be performed.
A part of the job would be to analyse the business line and the actions of its main managers (risk control, efficiency, governance and strategy, etc.), as well as perform fraud detection (big data approaches, investigation).
What differs from a pure auditing position is that from the mission, the inspectors would highlight the main observations, recommendations and strategic orientations, detailing them in written and oral presentations. Some missions can consist of the examination of (or contribution to) projects at the heart of the Group’s newsflow (assessment of acquisition targets, etc.)
Q: Has your personal career strategy always been focused on this job? How does this new job fit into your career strategy?
A: Not at all! At the beginning of the master I was thinking of applying for consultancy positions. My “career strategy” was not well defined, I was grabbing information here and there, and getting to know a very large panel of recruiters.
I got interested in Finance by getting more familiar with the industry. Studying a large range of subjects at IE enabled me to see finance as a catalyst needed for any value creation. I always knew I had a calling for logics and showed interest in extra-curricular activities which demanded organizational and analytical skills. As I went back to my initial Career Leader assessment I realized I showed strong competencies within the fields of finance contrary to my first appeal for consultancy. So finance was not a first choice but it ended being the right career strategy. I took the Finance Management and Control specialization and so far, I am very satisfied!
Q: How did you find out about this job opportunity? Where did you apply for the job?
A: I found out about this job opportunity at a company presentation organised by IE Talent and Careers, not to long after the Financial Services Talent Forum. I just went there by curiosity as it was one of the first French companies on campus. The speakers were very dynamic and convincing, most of us left the room thinking of applying for the position. The application process was online, very straightforward.
“IE is like an ecosystem, to make the most of it, you need to look for resources beyond the classroom.”
Q: How did Talent and Careers and your IE experience help you during the recruiting process? Did you use specific career resources or did you come across useful information via an advisor or alumni?
A: I had an appointment with my Career Advisor Elina Tretiakova at the beginning of the year to define my goals and strategize my job researches. Then, I contacted Career Advisor Beatriz García-Bernalt, specialized in the Finance sector, before going to the assessment center to have an opinion on my preparation and to get some tips on what I should put forward.
Teachers were helpful as well as general advisors on how to define your value added, what to expect during the recruitment process, etc.
Finally, the IE community help was the decisive vote. At school, I got to know students that previously worked for SocGen who gave me precious insider information about their experience in the company. I contacted some former IE students on LinkedIn that are now in the position, same thing.
All in all, IE is like an ecosystem, to make the most of it, you need to look for resources beyond the classroom.
Q: How was the recruiting process?
A: The recruitment process started online, where I had to complete some personal information, this stage did not require a cover letter. Then I got invited to take a logical test and a personality test online, followed by an HR department call, two weeks later, to invite me to the assessment center in Paris. It was an intense day from 8 am to 7 pm of written tests and oral interviews. They aimed at evaluating our interpersonal skills, pragmatism, analytical mind, teamwork and capacity for synthesis. The atmosphere was friendly, the staff was very professional and I got to meet very interesting people. They called me a few weeks later to invite me to Paris again for the last interview, a “grand oral” with a jury of partners. The process lasted approximately 4 months.
“Self-awareness is extremely important, spend time analyzing your background and your experiences in order to understand how it shaped yourself and have a clear perception of your personality, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, etc.”
Q: Would you want to share any tips or advice with student interested in applying to Société Générale? To your job position in particular?
A: This program is quite competitive; the average acceptance rate is under 1%. Therefore, it seems obvious that you need to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Define a clear added-value that you can bring to the program. The last step is not about testing your hard skills but getting to know you as a person, SocGen is very careful about hiring the right personalities I believe.
Self-awareness is extremely important, spend time analyzing your background and your experiences in order to understand how it shaped yourself and have a clear perception of your personality, strengths, weaknesses, motivations, etc. Make your research about the bank, be ready to show them that you are a great fit for their company, because their values are in line with yours.
Preparation will enable you to feel confident and comfortable during the interview and thus answer to the questions with spontaneity and sincerity. Don’t let other candidates intimidate you if they come from a stronger background because what matters is the potential of what you can become working with them.
At Société Générale, our goal is to become the relationship bank of reference. Relationship banking is only possible with the right people – the right team – working together, sharing a common team spirit.
Team spirit, our first value, goes beyond how we work together. It’s about forming durable relationships, based on respect and trust. Building team spirit together is about the excitement and satisfaction that come from learning from and supporting one another. Because the most important relationship is the one we build with our employees.
Professionalism and Innovation complete Team spirit as the set of Group core values. As well as team spirit, we look for innovation, responsibility and commitment. In all of our businesses, these values, shared by all colleagues, foster an environment which combines in-depth expertise and the constant desire to anticipate our customers’ needs and changes to the market.
Source: Société Générale Careers Website