Careers City Rising Star, Su Dobney is MCS Regional Manager for EMEA at Societe Generale and has been part of the Group for 20 years. Her career has spanned several departments leading her to a pivotal role in the organisation.
Su, tell us a bit about your career within Societe Generale…
I joined Hambros Bank which was bought by Societe Generale (SG). In my early career I worked in current account banking managing customer transactions and later transferred to working in IT. When SG took over Hambros I held several roles within the IT call centre and the e-mail team. My role has really evolved over time – I am now a liaison between Paris, EMEA and London focusing on Mail and Messaging and key to my role is relationships. I’m not managing people or infrastructure, I’m managing important stakeholder relationships.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
It has been very organic – the only time I really had any sort of plan was when I opted to move out of banking and into IT. I worked for another bank previously and originally thought on leaving that I would change sectors, but when a role came up at Hambros I decided to stay in banking, but doing something different. When SG bought Hambros I saw the opportunity to move internally and asked to change roles. That’s an illustration of how my career has grown – opportunities arise along the way and you have the option to go for them. In an organisation like SG, there are lots of options to move about and change what you are working on. In the IT side of banking, things are changing all the time!
On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?
Generally speaking I arrive at the office around 9am – my day largely consists of meetings. I’m involved in a lot of global projects, so I’ll be catching up on progress and managing the coordination of new projects. I’ll have a lot of email traffic too – I communicate with people from all the different project teams across the business and receive lots of requests from the user support team in the UK and EMEA about resolving issues and improving processes. The end of the day is usually a bit more peaceful and that’s when have some solid ‘work time’. I finish anytime between 6.30 and 8pm depending on the day’s activity. I always make sure I leave at a reasonable time when I have social activities lined up and save other days for catching up.
I would recommend being collaborative – working well with others, and being known to be trustworthy and reliable. Make yourself useful to people, and they are then more likely to do the same for you.
What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership / management position?
I think it is worthwhile considering managerial skills training. Some of my colleagues have had training recently in understanding how different people work and how to get the best out of people, by understanding what motivates them. It is also key to understand that it is OK for your team to be different to you! There is definitely a transition phase between being an operational leader and the move into people management.
What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?
Be the best you can – and in a fair organisation you should be recognised for that. I’ve got to where I am because I have always been open to helping colleagues and have been known to be someone who will get things done when I say I will. I would recommend being collaborative – working well with others, and being known to be trustworthy and reliable. Make yourself useful to people, and they are then more likely to do the same for you.
When it comes to networking I don’t do much externally but I do network with SG. For example, I belong to the SG singers, our company choir. We perform twice a year and it’s a really nice way to be connected to the business.
How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?
My direct manager is a great coach – he has been very good at providing support on how I should approach various challenges whilst also empowering me. He himself also has a good profile and relationships across the business.