This year, the UN theme for International Women's Day is “Think equal, build smart, innovate for change” with a particular focus on the gender digital divide. Women are under-represented in fields of innovation that could serve as an extraordinary means of autonomy and enable them to play a more active role in creating a more inclusive and sustainable society.
What better time to highlight Societe Generale’s commitments and results in supporting gender equality in the company and to put the spotlight on women who have achieved inspiring career paths.
Rathnaprabha Manickavachagam, head of innovation at Societe Generale
At Societe Generale since 2010, Rathnaprabha Manickavachagam has held several strategic IT delivery positions and is now responsible for Innovation Strategy and delivery of Innovation Value, as such Prabha runs the accelerator program that aims at discovering Fintechs and start-ups thanks to which Societe Generale has discovered 50+ startups aligned with the bank’s digital transformation strategy.
“I feel that my boldness and hardwork have definitely helped me in my career. But I also had the chance to be able to rely on peers and on my teams through challenges.” Rathnaprabha sees challenges as opportunities to grow, one must accept them since they can “boost performance of teams and add continuous value to the organization”.
Rathnaprabha believes deeply that collaboration and supportiveness are necessary in the workplace, for personal growth as well as for business efficiency. “It is important to collaborate, see the larger picture and aim big. Learning is all about sharing the same goals and collective achievements.”
A word of advice: “Young women need to put in lot of hard work and experientially learn relying on their self-confidence and curiosity. This piece of advice is also true for men!”
Farida Mellouk, agile coach at Societe Generale and mentor at Capital Filles
Having started from scratch at Societe Generale, Farida Mellouk has developed a career over the last 20 years or more that has been disruptive and entailed a variety of diverse professions and contexts that give her a sense of having lived several lives within the retail banking France IT department. “I created opportunities to be able to constantly develop my skills and know-how.” From systems verifier to agile coach, including strategic project management, Farida has never been afraid to take risks and face challenges.
By constantly seeking feedback to boost her development, she has been able to constantly reinvent herself to develop a career in her own image: authentic and audacious. “Nowadays I provide support to employees in changing to agile approaches. I like helping them to find meaning in what they do, as I always sought in my own career”.
She also puts this desire to give and share to use at the Capital Filles association where she has been mentoring young people since 2018. “I encourage them to have confidence in themselves and believe in their dreams so they can feel they are masters of their own destiny”.
A word of advice: “Take risks and be aware of your value, don’t ever give up or try to be anyone other than yourself!"
Raissa Banhoro, project manager at the Simplon Digital Factory in Abidjan and self-made entrepreneur
Raissa Banhoro is a trained engineer specialising as a programmer/analyst. When she began her third level studies, she knew “absolutely nothing”, and for very good reason since she wanted to become a biologist. She was very lucky to be strongly supported and encouraged by her family and friends, even though it was not always easy, “I frequently heard people say I was in a man's domain, there were only three girls in my class, and the atmosphere was very individualistic”. Today, Raissa leads a company with seven employees which offers support to other companies in their digital transformation and is developing a literacy app. “When starting my company, I had to work twice as hard as I was not taken seriously as a woman. But now, things are great!”
Raissa is also a project manager at the Simplon Digital Factory, which was opened in partnership with Societe Generale at the end of 2018. The first group taken on comprises 24 people, 40% of whom are women, “which is not bad at all!” Perceptions are changing but we must continue to demystify the digital professions and show that they are not inaccessible and in particular how diverse they are. “The Digital Factory helps people who want to change their career path and become a web developer. It is extremely satisfying to help someone enhance their employability. I feel truly useful.”
A word of advice: “The digital professions are for people who are passionate, give it everything you’ve got.”
Anne-Sophie Léric, IT School student
Anne-Sophie Leric studied business management in the health and social sector. After a few years working at a retirement home in the Greater Paris area, she decided to make a radical change of career and enrol in a code learning programme through IT School, a training programme devised by Societe Generale and Simplon.co.
“There were no suitable opportunities for advancement in my job. Having seen the growing importance of big data, I decided to swerve into IT development, thinking with a vengeance “why not me?”.
Anne-Sophie regrets that there are only four women in her class. “I got a very warm welcome, even my male colleagues were delighted to have “girls at last” in the class.
Anne-Sophie says she is confident about her future today. At Societe Generale, she is working on an internal application to help consolidate credit provisions.
A word of advice: “Always keep an open mind and do what you love regardless of the activity sector. As women, we have a tendency to set ourselves a glass ceiling.”
For international women’s day 2018, Societe Generale asked 6 female members of its IT service to share their point of view on working in this sector.
Supporting our 147,000 employees in the enhancement of their skills and their employability, developing a responsible banking culture based on our values to ensure dialogue with partners and the diversity of the teams, offering a suitable working environment nurturing the commitment of the teams. These are our priorities as a responsible employer.