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Intergenerational dialogue: Discover the testimony of Anne and Alexandre

In 2017, BNP Paribas launched its first intergenerational network, called WeGenerations. Learn why, from Alexandre Belin, a consultant at BNP Paribas Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB), who has been in the position for the past two years, and from Anne Kozlow, Head of Human Resources France at BNP Paribas Wealth Management, who has been with the Group for 13 years.

Mentoring/reverse mentoring is one of the four initiatives of the WeGenerations network. How does it work? 

Anne Kozlow: It’s a system for connecting a junior and senior employee in order to promote sharing of experiences and points of view on a variety of topics, such as the bank’s different businesses, career advancement opportunities, using new technologies, relations within the bank, the BNPP corporate culture, etc. 

Alexandre Belin: It’s a meeting between two employees at the same company, who belong to two different generations. We often face similar issues, but we tend to have different approaches and visions that may be complementary.

How did you form your team?

Alexandre Belin: The WeGenerations network organized a meeting in early summer 2018, bringing together everyone interested in intergenerational relations and seeking to expand their networks. That’s where I caught up with Anne, whom I had worked with several months earlier on creating a wealth management activity, the Mannschaft project, for a new private bank in Germany. On top of that, we both had common roots in Berlin.

Anne Kozlow: Ideally, the participants come from different businesses. It’s important for the tandem to form freely around shared passions and interests, so a dialogue can begin quickly. Kindness and trust are two crucial elements in the relationship. These preconditions also enable participants to move beyond the postures and protocol we often adopt in professional settings. To support the tandems, WeGen supplies booklets to guide the seniors and juniors on topics they may discuss during each meeting, while providing tips for ensuring the best possible interactions within each tandem (active listening, meeting format and follow-up, etc.). 

Photo : Anne Kozlow

How does your collaboration take place within mentoring and reverse mentoring sessions?

A.K.: We meet once a month outside the bank for an interview of an hour and a half on a topic that is important to us both and on which we can each offer a different perspective. For example, I may ask him how to manage and motivate a young employee in my team. Alexandre will then give me his point of view and we can come up with some potential actions. But the discussion topics go beyond the framework of intergenerational dialogue—we also talk about different operating methods within Group entities, new developments, etc. It’s an open-ended discussion between two people of different ages and backgrounds, who both work at One Bank.

A.B.: We enrich each other by sharing our experiences. Anne has taught me so much about many topics, such as maintaining a healthy work-life balance and how to adopt the right attitude at work to adapt to work habits and cultures that can vary from one entity to the next. 

Photo : Alexandre Belin

Aside from greater knowledge and social skills, what other benefits does this experience provide?

A.K.: As a manager working in new HR functions, I think this experience enables me to develop my listening skills and to ask the tough questions that don’t have easy answers. It’s also a nice chance to chat in a less formal setting with an employee working in another area of the bank. 

A.B.: The meetings give me a new perspective on my position and my environment at the bank. They also help me to enrich my vision, learn more about the rich variety of our Group’s businesses and reflect on opportunities for pooling resources, sharing best practices and more. 

How does intergenerational understanding improve the services BNP Paribas provides to its customers?

A.B.: Our customers come from every generation and have specific needs depending on their age. That’s why it’s important for the people who develop the bank’s products to understand the expectations of each type of customer, in order to meet their specific needs. 

A.K.: Digital is also a central part of our activities. While data and IT skills typically belong to younger employees, seniors have more experience and knowledge of banking products. We need to share our experiences in order to offer the best banking services to all customers. 

Different generations have always worked together at the company. Why do we need a network like WeGenerations?

A.B.: Senior/junior tandems have always existed in the form of senior employees sharing their experience with juniors, primarily through their own personal initiative. Since this practice received such excellent feedback, it became important for us to make this fruitful dialogue a routine practice and open up a space for sharing between employees. Now this process is better managed and organized, and therefore more efficient. 

A.K.: Organizations have changed, and so have management methods. We no longer manage teams vertically like we did 30 or 50 years ago. Dialogue and collaboration within teams are now more productive for employees of all ages. We learn from others so we can work better together, and WeGenerations plays a pivotal role in this dynamic.

To share good practices on intergenerational issues in the world of work and to participate in working groups on these issues, you can write to this address wegenerations@bnpparibas.com

The four pillars of WeGenerations 

The network is based on four initiatives:

  • Mentoring and reverse mentoring: exchanges between senior and junior employees to strengthen cohesion between generations and promote career opportunities
  • Networking: external events to break down silos between services and facilitate transparent exchange
  • Conferences: events organized to draw inspiration from experiences at other companies and in other industries
  • Knowledge sharing: co-working workshops to grasp new trends and boost personal development

Crédit photo : header ©Boggy

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