During my professional journey, I had the chance to work for several years in startups but at some point, I felt like the startup model wasn’t a fit for me anymore. I never imagined that I would work in a bank, but finally, I got there: here is how it happened and what I discovered.
I really loved working in startups
During all this time, I loved working in startups because of the emulation and the immediacy in projects that this model involves. As I worked in a startup around 2005, I was a part of the people who first played with UX Design. It taught me a lot: working in close collaboration with developers, understanding their issues and building around it, being flexible but perfectionist at the same time, living the rush of two production pushes a week, working on pages that get millions of views a day, tracking the functional bug… and more importantly, always be in innovation mode, putting my creativity at the service of users need.
Time for a change
I felt like I wasn’t learning anymore and my career in startups didn’t fit anymore the work-life balance I needed. After some self-introspection, I did a list of what I didn’t want to do anymore and what I wished to do more. Here it is:
My first steps in the banking industry
Having a better overview of what I wanted, I decided to focus on companies that needed senior UX designers with the startup energy that I definitely wanted to keep. I wanted to help digitalize a big industry without idealization but with pragmatism and realistic behaviors.
During my job hunt, I was more attracted by companies that put the emphasis on UX methodology and seemed to know how to lead user-driven projects. Moreover, when I did my job interview at Societe Generale, I discovered the power of having a UX methodology supported by our Digital Office.
To ensure a collaborative setup with an iterative approach, the methodology we set up for user experience is both user-focused and schedule-oriented. We have to be good and fast, deliver a great design and always keep in mind what matters: our users. Those elements probably explain why our UX methodology has gained support and understanding.
A big bank, humans at the center
Joining Societe Generale was the result of a thoughtful decision. I came here because I liked the human contact I had with people during my interviews and how people interacted with me even though they didn’t know if I would join the team or not. In addition, I was impressed by their knowledge and their digital strategy. I felt like it was a place for me, where my skills could be of use. Plus, all the emails received during the recruiting process were enthusiastic and friendly. When I began to work, this impression was confirmed
I was not especially searching for a company without a strong pyramidal structure and mostly I didn’t imagine it could exist in big structures. In fact, all the Digital Office is organized in such a way and now that I have experienced it, I am not sure I could go back to the old way of doing things. You feel more confident, entrusted and free with this kind of management. I really like this dynamic where everybody in the team, which can be junior or senior, can challenge your work. It pushes each and every one of us to be more collaborative and ultimately it generates an undeniable emulation.
It creates another dynamic within the team: kindness. Knowing that we are not competing against each other is beneficial. Each of us has their strengths and is mentoring the rest of the team on it. We don’t have time to spend judging each other because we are collaboratively building a meaningful team. That also means that whenever we hire someone new in the team, the candidate’s profile has been validated by everyone in the team.
There’s always this running joke with my boss because I found a nickname for the bank: the world of Care Bears. Truth be told, in 2 years of work here, I met way more friendly and human people than the opposite!
Even outside the team, benevolence is always around the corner.
Working hand-in-hand with users, enjoying dedicated budgets
Working for a bigger company, I wanted to have the opportunity to work closely with users, developers, and marketing teams. As UX designer on e-commerce websites, I was free to make as many AB Test as I wanted and use analytics to study users’ behaviors, but I wanted to go another step further in user study.
In addition, I no longer work for nothing. During my “startup life”, projects I was working on were dependent on fundraising. It included working in a rush to get results in a short time, sometimes it went with feature risk, when business model changed at half of the project to go faster. Sometimes project could be stopped overnight.
Within Societe Generale, I discovered budget was a central element when it comes to projects. The Digital Office role is to ensure that our projects are always innovative and carry them until they are rolled out. To do so, budget is defined and allocated in a lean way, has to be respected and in line with our UX methodology. Since I arrived, all my projects have been pushed in production and none of them has been cut because of a lack of budget. What a change!
Would I do it again?
I don’t and will never regret working in startups. Looking back, I feel like I learned so much in these structures and have so good memories there, and they greatly contributed to my professional expertise. But I don’t regret my job change.
At this point in my life, the list I did at the beginning of this article with what I wanted or not is pretty much empty. I really have found the perfect balance for me in this job. I am trusted and confident in my projects which are fully user-centered and created in collaboration with my project stakeholders. I feel deeply involved in my team and in the Digital Office strategy. I have the chance give lectures in schools and transmit my UX knowledge inside the bank. I am well paid to do my job and respected for what I do, and have the work-life balance I wished to have.
Last but not least, I really love the team I am working in and I am learning each day brings something new thanks to them. Being happy to wake up in the morning and enjoying working with your co-workers. What more could you ask for?