Beyond the Chateau Walls Company Profile: Societe Generale

Societe Generale staff and intern pose together

LDI Intern Andrea Turner (with hat) and the SG Lux Digital Team

A French bank in Luxembourg hosting an American intern. A combination that might sound strange elsewhere is business as usual in Luxembourg. As we continue the Beyond the Château Walls company profile series, we caught up with Bertrand Kaufmann, Global Head of Market Solutions & Digital Transformation Leader, to find out more.

Societe Generale is a major European bank with a global presence, so please tell us about your business but also what parts of that business are particularly relevant locally in Luxembourg.

Our Group has chosen a diversified and internalized model and combines both financial solidity and a sustainable growth strategy.

Luxembourg benefits from its strategic location in Europe, which strongly stimulates innovation. The country places in the Top 20 worldwide for innovation in the WIPO (World intellectual property organization) ranking. On a local level, we focus on four key areas of innovation: Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Blockchain and Regtech.

Also, we cover a wide customer base with specific needs: wholesale, institutional and corporate clients, and also asset/wealth managers, but also private investors. More than ever during this global crisis, digital solutions save time, create value faster, a better experience and more cost effectiveness for our clients, staff and partners.

How did you decide to participate in the first Luxembourg Digital Innovation (LDI) program and in which part of the business did your intern work?

As the digital transformation team of SG Luxembourg, we manage the digital transformation with the following goals:

  • Be client centric
  • Improve efficiency
  • Create new business models

We know that these concerns are critical to stay competitive but also that we cannot innovate without diversity! I guess that's why we decided to participate in this program. Andrea Turner was our intern and her role was to develop the reputation of the digital transformation team internally and externally and also to ensure the monitoring and analysis of associated projects.

Although the internship was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, how did your intern help your business and what would you say to other companies that might be interested in the program?

The benefit to our business of having an intern was that she brought in some best practices from abroad and took a fresh look at our way of driving transformation. Andrea did that well. It was really disappointing that COVID forced the internship to be cut short as Andrea was going to continue her internship into the summer, spending close to 6 months with us.

Our message to companies potentially interested in your program is not to hesitate to take this great opportunity for collaboration which pushes us to reinvent ourselves (and practice our English incidentally!).

Being a French bank in country where French is one of the dominant languages, why were you interested in taking an intern who did not necessarily speak French?

We know it: English is and will remain the “mandatory” language in our sector. It is the most widely used language in the world, and the innovation/IT sectors in general have a fairly precise jargon, often with a lot of English terms.

In addition, we were able to take advantage of Andrea’s spirit of synthesis as well as her taste for "brand content" which was useful to us in spreading our digital strategy. We look forward to participating in the program again with great pleasure!