The IT locomotive

Director of IT Architecture in the Resources Service Unit - International Banking Networks (IRBS), Isabelle Debeaupuis joined Societe Generale two years ago. Portrait of a woman who is IT through and through.

Isabelle Debeaupuis, who describes herself as an IT girl, found her vocation somewhat by chance when she was at engineering school. “I wanted to go to engineering school because I have a very curious nature and I like to understand how things work”, Isabelle told us. “I liked IT straight away: being able to programme a machine and get it to do what you want it to... Even though I know how things work, I’m still amazed at what you can do with coding”.

Isabelle discovered IT architecture at the end of the 1990s, thanks to a lucky meeting: “It was a manager at Veolia. He immediately saw I was passionate about the creative aspects of IT and looking for solutions, and asked me to join his architecture team”. For her, the IT architect’s job is to create a vision, and to transform that vision into reality by developing the next generation of IT systems.

When joining highly technical teams, Isabelle Debeaupuis has found herself in a male-dominated, competitive environment. “When a woman turns up saying, ‘Actually, I’ve got an idea; have you thought of doing this?’, it can cause friction”, she explains. “I’ve always managed this by being as meticulous as I can, which reflects my personality: I like to understand every detail of what I’m doing, to be sure of what I’m saying, and to be as precise as possible in my work”.

At Societe Generale, the woman known as “the locomotive”, thanks to her ability to “drive” innovative ideas and projects, has found a working environment that values people, whatever their gender. “There is a highly developed sense of respect for people in all their diversity at Societe Generale. The values of tolerance and respect are deeply rooted in the people that work there”. Nonetheless, as at other companies, women are underrepresented in technical fields. Even at Societe Generale, she is the only woman in her team, and not for want of trying: neither she nor her male colleagues have managed to recruit any women yet - the simple reason being that they haven't received any applications from women. It’s a problem that starts in schools: “At my engineering school, there were 12 women out of 170 graduates in my year, and the stats are worse now”.

According to Isabelle Debeaupuis, this lack of diversity is a source of dysfunction. “Each gender has positive traits that contribute to a company’s health and competitiveness. Taking advantage of our differences and how we complement each other makes us stronger”, she concludes.

 

Isabelle Debeaupuis, Director of IT Architecture in the Resources Service Unit - International Banking Networks (IRBS)

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