*Valérie Landon has worked at Credit Suisse for nearly 20 years. She is now co-head of their investment banking business in France. Valerie spoke to The Gateway about the open culture of the bank. *
What exactly does your role involve?
My role has two main components; I am co-head of the investment banking department in Paris, managing the team here and I am also a banker in my own right. I talk to my clients to understand their financial and strategic requirements as well as the dynamics of the industries in which they operate. I work with colleagues from around the world to create solutions to meet their needs. I also spend time explaining these solutions and their relevance to the client and implementing our recommendations.
Who are your clients?
I work with large corporates with offices in France who span several sectors, primarily multinational companies in industries like energy, auto and utilities. My colleague and co-head of investment banking is also responsible for French corporates and we cover the entire spectrum of clients in France; corporates, financial institutions and the French Government.
In the UK, a recent report commissioned by the government that found you're less likely to get to the top in business if you're a woman. Do you think this is a problem in the financial services?
This question is faced by a number of different industries, not just the financial sector. Diversity and Inclusion are an integral part of the Bank's strategy and have provided us with a competitive advantage in increasingly global markets. Diversity and Inclusion provide additional ways to connect with our clients, by producing a broad array of business opportunities and a work environment that supports innovation. Speaking from my own experience I have found Credit Suisse to be a flexible and accommodating employer. I have enjoyed a number of roles overseas which was fortuitous with regard to my personal life.
Would you have any advice, based on what you've learnt over your 20 years in the industry, to any young graduates who want to get to the top in financial services?
You have to be interested in the industry and keep an open mind. It's a challenging but rewarding environment and it's always evolving. When you begin your career you don't know if you will make an excellent salesman or a strong technician. You may have some preferences but you can't possibly know what you'll be doing in ten years time. Credit Suisse offers opportunity and mobility. It is a demanding profession, but if you are well organised there's no reason why you cannot accommodate a busy personal or family life with a very interesting professional life. I get a lot of questions from young female graduates and I tell them: I joined Credit Suisse when I was pregnant, I have two children, I am married; it can be done. And I still love my job and often say to myself: "this day has been too short!"