What is your principal mission within Group Financial Security (GFS)?
The role of GFS is, among other things, to make sure that the Group’s sanction policies are correctly implemented so as to avoid penalties, be they in the United States or elsewhere in the world. Today, Group Financial Security has 245 employees, and has been divided into two distinct entities, one based in Paris (with 159 members of staff) and the other in New York (with 86). Within the U.S.-based GFS, the team in which I’ve been working is called On-Site Control, OSC for short, and has 27 people. And, to give you a few more numbers, since its creation, the U.S. OSC team has completed 70 reviews in over 30 countries.
Practically speaking, what actions are you putting in place?
Concretely, members of the GFS-OSC U.S. team travel to BNP Paribas operating entities throughout the world to assess compliance with Group sanctions procedures. Our reviews lead observations and action plans that we closely monitor for implementation. When we notice a certain problem on the ground is shared by multiple sites, we organize what we call a “thematic review”, which aims to solve a specific problem on a large scale, while also keeping costs in check.
Photo : Florent Malaussena
How do you ensure that there’s minimal risk on a global level?
We have a very specific approach that consists of regularly carrying out reviews so that we have advance warning and can limit any sanction-related risks. Every year, GFS conducts an overall analysis of these risks to give scores to the different entities within the Group, ranging from “low risk” to “high risk”, and we use these scores to develop an annual review plan. Along with this approach, we make a significant effort to coordinate with multiple stakeholders and areas in the Group, particularly the Inspection Generale. This coordinated action plan has allowed us to better identify possible risks and establish the appropriate measures to keep those risks in check.
After a long career in auditing, why did you decide to join GFS?
After over 10 years as an auditor, I worked in a number of different positions within the Group, all of which were connected with compliance, so it made total sense that I would join GFS, a part of Group Compliance. I also chose to join GFS because it gave me the unique opportunity to put together a completely new team and to work with the best experts in our field.
You’ve had the opportunity to work in London and now in New York. What do you like most about living abroad?
Internal mobility is a strong value within BNP Paribas and employees are encouraged to live abroad. Expatriation has taught me new ways of thinking and has especially helped me put French and European management and decision-making styles into perspective. It has also been a one-of-a-kind adventure for my family! From a very early age, my children have been able to learn English, develop an openness of mind and understand the importance of diversity. I take great pride in seeing them open themselves up more and more to the world and even speak English better than I do! New York is an incredible city, where there’s always something going on, already two marathons completed.
Expatriation has taught me new ways of thinking and has especially helped me put French and European management and decision-making styles into perspective.
You manage a multicultural team. What does that mean in terms of management?
There are more than eight nationalities represented within my team ; When you’re faced with this kind of diversity, you have to constantly be reassessing and adjusting your management style. Communication is essential.
There are more than eight nationalities represented within my team—a mutli cultural team. When you’re faced with this kind of diversity, you have to constantly be reassessing and adjusting your management style. Communication is essential. The challenge is transmitting, in the clearest way possible, the objectives that need to be reached. I make sure that I’m not leaving anyone behind by regularly organizing team meetings and one-on-one conversations.
Generally speaking, I try to be as attentive as possible to the needs of each person. Reviews can sometimes be very stressful, and so it’s crucial that management shows itself to be a strong pillar that teams can lean on when necessary. Lastly, I try to apply a participative style of management, where each person contributes to collective decisions. It’s a good way to reinforce team cohesion.
What excites you most about your job?
I’d say, in the first place, it’s the feeling of having a concrete impact on the Group’s sanctions compliance framework. The action plans that we develop help to strengthen and improve controls, which is gratifying to see. I also greatly enjoy cultivating communication with the highest levels of management. We interact with a large variety of people, ranging from local compliance officers to members of the BNP Paribas Executive Committee. Given the large range of our interlocutors, our relationships with them have to be specialized, overarching and strategic, all at the same time. I personally find this exercise very stimulating!
How would you explain your job to a child?
I would say that I’m a little like a police officer—I monitor the safety of the bank’s operations and I combat any dangers that could harm it.
What’s the best moment of your day?
When I arrive at the office in the morning, because I never know what my day will hold. There’s no routine in my job—I take on new challenges every day, which I solve in an “agile” way. I must admit that I love how my job incorporates the unknown and improvisation.
Credit photo header: ©victor zastol'skiy