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In her shoes | Neary Guenin | Global Head of Business Data at Societe Generale Group

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Neary GueninCareers City Rising Star, Neary Guenin is Global Head of Business Data, EMEA Head for Onboarding & Referential and EMEA Head of Revenue Services, a Director in the Operations function at Societe Generale Group. She has been in the position for 18 months, having previously worked as Chief of Staff to the Head of Europe / UK. Her career spans 10 years in the City after graduating from business school in France.

Tell us, Neary, what is your background?

Before I joined the organisation I was a strategy consultant working with SG as a client. I started my career in the city 10 years ago, after studying at business school in France. Going into Finance was always the plan, I realised quickly when I was studying that I was good with numbers and took the maths/science route in education. Since I was also good at languages that led me to business school. I moved to London in 2004. I have planned my career several times, although a number of opportunities have changed my plans – I’d say it’s more of an ongoing, organic plan but along the way I have known the general direction that I wanted to take it.

I believe you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions – just because you are in charge, doesn’t mean you have to know everything.

Tell us a little bit about a day in the life in your role.

I wake up early at about 6.30am to get prepared before I wake up my son. A typical morning would involve playing with him before I leave the house and set off to the office to arrive around 9am. I catch up with my emails on the way to work. Between 9am and 6pm I have lots of meetings – I am managing teams locally and globally so my working day involves lots of catch ups on current activity. I’ll also need to catch up with my stakeholders in other departments. By the end of the day I will review the emails that have come in and respond those I need to before heading back home.

What do you enjoy most about working here?

It is really fast paced and there is always a new challenge on different levels. In my experience there is always something new to be doing, learning and new people to meet. The people I have met so far have always proved to be interesting.

SG as an organisation is a place where if you ask questions people will answer or are unsure about something people will take the time to answer. I’ve always been impressed by that within this organisation. I think that you need that openness in a workplace. Even if people are busy, if you ask in the right way, they will make the time to explain the why and the how and they will do it very candidly.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership / management position?

I believe you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions – just because you are in charge, doesn’t mean you have to know everything. I also think you should surround yourself with good people and know that they are there to support you.

Importantly, I’d also say be persistent!

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

I’d say a lot of the same tips as above would be relevant – definitely look out for the good people. For profile raising, it’s also especially about being able to walk the talk and then not be afraid to communicate about your results. I think that is all the more important for women, who often don’t sing their own praises as much. It is also important to be involved in initiatives which span departments to get maximum exposure to multiple stakeholders.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I use a network of colleagues and some former managers to ask for advice. I have also had some useful coaching sessions funded by the company. They were useful to help boost performance, and assist me in mapping out the priorities I am facing. It’s good to have a sounding board – someone who is more than just a sympathetic ear, but someone who can bounce back questions to help you think through your various challenges / options.

And how about networking opportunities?

I have been in the Women in Banking and Finance network for 6 years and I am a huge fan. They organise monthly personal excellence training sessions and coaching sessions on different topics. Women on Boards is also really good. I think both of those are really good networks to be part of. I’m also aware of the ‘Feminin’ (Women’s) network that SG has internally.

For profile raising, it’s also especially about being able to walk the talk and then not be afraid to communicate about your results. I think that is all the more important for women, who often don’t sing their own praises as much.

What does the future hold for you?

There are a few different directions I would like to take my career – for me, it’s a bit about being in the right place at the right time. My advice would be that it helps to be loud and clear that you want to evolve to ensure that you are top of mind when opportunities arise.

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