The V.I.E Program at Société Générale
Currently the Head of HR for Société Générale in Canada, Guillaume Schickele started his career in 2012 as a V.I.E for Societe Generale in Hong Kong.
After working for the Asia Pacific region, Guillaume has held various positions as part of the HR team in North America. He moved to Montreal in 2019 to support the growth of the Canadian entities, which expanded by around 200% over the last three years. Today, Guillaume oversees the Human Capital Management for the Canadian entities, which numbers around 850 people, including an HR team of 30.
The V.I.E: a career FastTrack
The V.I.E program largely influenced Guillaume’s career path. When he started his V.I.E, he planned to spend two years abroad before going back to France. Today, as he reflects on his path, he describes his experience as an incredible learning opportunity and true career booster. “When you are at a junior level and do not have much experience, it is very difficult to secure a position outside of France by yourself. The V.I.E program eases this process and is the best way to find a position abroad.”
At Société Générale, the V.I.E speeds up international career paths, opening access to a larger range of positions within the host company. By joining an organization such as Société Générale, a V.I.E candidate can learn about other jobs, develop transferable skills and build an international network. This knowledge then becomes extremely valuable to secure a permanent job either abroad or within the company in France.
A profound sense of responsibility
As for Guillaume, the V.I.E program gives candidates a sense of responsibility: their contribution to the company’s goals is palpable. The impact of their tasks clearly shows how much the company trusts them to provide the required support.
When joining the V.I.E program, people take a big step out of their comfort zone in a professional environment, in a different cultural environment and preparing them to take on more responsibilities earlier in their career. “The V.I.E program is a very enriching experience from a cultural standpoint.” Guillaume explains that becoming a global citizen allows to appreciate differences, increase social awareness, build meaningful relationships with people of various backgrounds and identify nuances in the way businesses are operated.
“In their role, V.I.Es will be given medium to long term objectives
that may require to get organized and interact with people at different levels
within the organization. It can be intimidating at times, but it is also
very rewarding as you succeed.”
Managers play a key role in the V.I.E’s professional development
One of Guillaume biggest challenges at the beginning of his career was to manage time, deliverables, and expectations. “When you are ambitious and willing to grow within your role, you want to deliver on every aspect of a project as soon as possible, but you also want to provide a qualitative job. Sometimes, delivering fast can mean missing some aspect of a project. I found that setting dedicated time with your manager to reV.I.Ew expectations and deliverables can ensure this alignment.”
A manager’s role is essential in guiding junior V.I.E candidates: as mentors, they provide continuous support throughout the V.I.E’s mission. Having been exposed to a larger range of work scenarios, they help V.I.Es to identify priorities and to see the bigger picture. Guillaume is convinced that his own managers played a crucial role in his career development.
The V.I.E: an integral part of Société Générale’s recruitment strategy
Today, Société Générale is one of the biggest V.I.E recruiters in the world. Based on each project’s needs, the financial organization hires a V.I.E with various educational and professional experience. According to Guillaume, one of the program’s greatest strengths is the pipeline drawing from a diverse talent pool. For each project, there is a perfect match in the V.I.E database.
Société Générale has developed a rigorous recruitment process to ensure candidates’ profiles and Société Générale’s working environment would make the best fit. It has been working well so far: V.I.E profiles mix well with the local workforce. It creates useful bridges between workforces based in France and locally.
The main steps of a V.I.E recruitment at Société Générale
Guillaume explains that a V.I.E recruitment is a seamless process for both the company and the candidate. These 6 steps usually take between 1 and 2 months to be completed:
- All V.I.E offers are posted on Mon V.I.E website, Société Générale’s website and LinkedIn
- Société Générale Managers reV.I.Ew all applications
- Société Générale HR Teams send a behavioral questionnaire to shortlisted candidates to confirm that the company’s culture fits their profile
- Pre-selected candidates meet the manager and the HR for an interV.I.Ew
- Société Générale selects a candidate
- Business France takes the lead to support the candidate with everything leading up to arrival in the host country (visa process, insurance, flight, etc.), and throughout the V.I.E program
Can any company benefit from recruiting V.I.E candidates?
“Every company that is eligible to the V.I.E program can benefit from taking V.I.Es as this is a very viable source of junior talents”. Sometimes it might feel like the V.I.E program is more suited towards larger organization. But a lot of small to medium size companies can leverage on this large pool of talent to support their operations abroad. There will always be a talent that fits a company’s needs within the V.I.E programs.
“With such a Talent Pool, I am not surprised that many of
our previous V.I.E candidates have reached very senior levels
within Société Générale.”
Naturally, not everyone will have a clear picture from the start. The V.I.E program offers a wide variety of roles, industries, and environments that people can discover. “If I take my example, when I started my V.I.E at Société Générale, Finance was an industry I wanted to discover but I did not have a full grasp on its activities. Today, after 10 years in the Financial Industry, I can easily say that I am passionate about our businesses, supporting the development of the global economy and supporting our clients as they build a better and more sustainable future through responsible and innovative financial solutions.”