Meeting with Stéphanie Tallois, Head of Legal Affairs in Monaco

November 13, 2020

Stéphanie Tallois | gender diversity | Indosuez

Present your profession and its role within the organisation. What are the main highlights of your business over the year?

With a legal background in corporate and international law, I am a graduate of the IAE (Institut d’Administration des Entreprises) business school and Head of the Department of Legal Affairs at CFM Indosuez Weath Management in Monaco. Combining the strategic topic of legal compliance and our role as a Business Partner sums up the challenge of our overall mission.

There is a strong gender balance in this profession as there are many women legal experts. However, there are fewer women in top management: “glass ceiling” effect or cultural reminiscence? It is a technical profession that requires agility and quick decision-making: our ongoing assignments and support for legal, organisational, and business changes are juxtaposed with daily tasks both at the level of the Entity and its subsidiaries and at Group-level. The multidiscliplinary aspect of this business is undeniable.

The rhythm is quite intense, with no real downtime, which requires strong organisation and appropriate tools. I am passionate about my job.

 

What is your career path? How did you manage your different career developments?

I have chosen a resolutely international career path, both in terms of the activities and the companies I have worked with, in a sector considered culturally and even historically as male-dominated.

I started out in an Anglo-Saxon banking institution then wanted to diversify and consolidate my experience by pursuing a career as legal counsel, first in a human-sized firm where I served as an in-house adviser on banking and financial law. When one of the “Big Five” offered to recruit me at the time, I saw this as a clear recognition of my investment and an opportunity that was fully in line with my goals. From that point, I took on increasing responsibilities until I became in charge of the banking/finance sector and created a niche “yachting” activity.

When I had the opportunity to join Crédit Agricole group around ten years later – and it was a woman who recruited me – I was thrilled to be part of a leading Group and to support the daily activity of its subsidiary Indosuez Wealth Management in Monaco. That was twelve years ago, and I’ve never been bored since!

I would say that my career path is committed, full of opportunities taken with consideration, and ongoing professional investment.

 

Was being a woman an asset or a handicap in your career? How do you manage your personal and professional life?

Being a woman has always been professionally neutral for me: I have never let it hold me back. On the other hand, I have always been aware of certain aspects of my professional environment. Although this is changing and will probably continue to change, banking and finance used to be known as a very male-dominated sector; more so in Latin and French cultures than in Anglo-Saxon cultures.

My career choice has of course implied strong will and resilience: because I am a woman, I have often had to work even harder throughout my career to prove my technical abilities and skills in order to advance and break down clichés.

For all of us, regardless of our gender, choosing a career path involves compromises – sometimes major – but this doesn’t necessarily mean giving up the important things. Seeking balance is above all a group effort among families, couples, and the culture of the company in which both men and women grow professionally. I have never given up being a woman or a mother, and my work has also contributed to my personal growth. Adaptability, pragmatism, and even creativity are key in learning to manage this balance as effectively as possible.

 

How do you view the company's evolution in terms of gender diversity? In concrete terms, what initiatives do you and your teams take on a daily basis to make progress on the subject of gender diversity?

The younger generations tend to move away from gender markers, as we can see today in our teams and through our discussions with them. However, it is still important that the company take initiatives to promote gender equality. Gender equality must be considered as an asset: it allows for a balanced approach both in terms of skills and personal traits.

Crédit Agricole group is committed to promoting gender equality, and offers management and training programmes aimed at assisting women in their professional paths. I can cite for instance the appointment of a manager on maternity leave. The more time passes, the more the company’s actions will allows us to share this culture across generations and between genders.

The current training opportunities in female leadership are all still very focused on methods aimed at helping women advance professionally in a male management environment. However, gender equality is not only about gender. My supervisor is a woman, the first woman member of our entity’s Executive Committee: she also has a very modern vision, values skills more than gender, and has an interesting approach to sharing experience.

I also regularly discuss gender equality with the members of my team, both women and men. They all agree on the importance of gender balance in the workplace. Many women still encounter some difficulties in managing family life as they move forward in their career, and we must offer them support within the company.

Our staff is also concerned about finding the right balance in our approach to gender equality: the promotion of women should not be viewed as a matter of filling a quota and avoiding a legal penalty, but as a way to recognise their skills.

There is still work to be done, and it is important to share ideas, keep step with the progress of our times, and remain forward-thinking.

 

What advice would you give to the younger generations?

I would tell them not to let anything hold them back and to expand their scope of possibilities. Their professional path and the daily management of their careers and personal lives are interactive and complementary in every sense.

Stay curious and open-minded, cultivate your skills and interpersonal skills, state your goals, learn to identify opportunities and be ready to seize them, learn to make compromises without disrupting your work/life balance, and don’t be afraid of change; see it as a chance to grow.

November 13, 2020

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