DevCast with Societe Generale Global Solution Centre #ep2

DevCast - Creating waves in the IT Industry

The 2nd episode of DevCast is here! Explore this article for an insightful talk with Angela Ciurumelea Nitu, Team Leader IT Operations & Innovation Referent, Alexandru Paul Smira, IT Admin at Societe Generale Global Solution Centre (SG GSC) and Andreea Balaci, Delivery Manager at Catalyst Solutions. Find out more about their innovation journey and how can you start your own innovation path!


Andreea Balaci: What can you tell us about you and your background in IT?

Angela: My IT story is entirely related to Societe Generale, as I had my very first job in IT in Societe Generale Global Solution Centre. If I were to speak about my background, it doesn’t originate in computer science. I studied communication. As you can see, you can run, but cannot hide the IT destiny, the IT field found me and transformed me in its pleased and humble servant for the last 7 years. And I am so grateful for it! All I know I learned on the field, from my colleagues and by self-study. The environment in the company was favorable for me to learn and catch up the technical knowledge I was requested, I had all the support I needed. This is the greatest part in the IT sector, in Societe Generale Group, you are surrounded by experts, but they never judge less experienced peers, on the contrary, they pass on their knowledge. 

Currently I am leading an IT support team, Alexandru being part of it for more than a year already sharing with me an Innovation journey.

Alexandru: What I can say about myself is that I am a very curious person and I believe that you can always find a need for improvement. I came from a different technical background, so, no experience in the IT for HR. Compared with my past workplaces I was nicely surprised to see that in Societe Generale Global Solution Centre the accent is also on the personal growth, not only on the processes.


Andreea Balaci: Alexandru, tell us, how did you start to explore the innovation sphere?

Alexandru: One day Angela told me that Societe Generale has several Innovation idea collection platforms where my ideas can be considered. I thought that is a wonderful initiative, because it is useless to just have an idea, if there is no one who can see it, discuss it, validate it, reject it... and so on…


Andreea Balaci:  Alexandru, what set your idea apart from the others? Why do you think it was selected for implementation?

Alexandru: At this point, I've joined forces with a few colleagues with a common goal and vision. After a few brainstorming sessions, with all the available information and enough experience, we've designed a Machine Learning improvement idea for support, one that will remove some repetitive workload.

Long story short, we’ve submitted it for one of the Innovation contests and, we've won the second place out of 160 ideas. Top 3 places had to see their ideas implemented with all the support of experts in the field.


Andreea Balaci: What were the main factors that helped you win the contest?

Alexandru: In my opinion, one of the main factors that made us win the contest is the very fact that we are diverse. Having a different background gave us different perspectives of the same issue, this way, covering as much ground as possible, such as technical resilience, technical integration, customer satisfaction and so on.  Another important factor of our proposal is the scalability, as it can be grown gradually, while responding to the needs of many other teams. 


Andreea Balaci: Is it true that anyone can innovate? Are there any best practices for beginners that you can share with us?

Angela: Innovation is not easy, but is doable if you keep your curiosity active and your observation senses sharp. Just take the existing pieces of a context and rethink all these in a new context.  I hear people saying all the time, “I’m not a technical profile, I cannot innovate’, which I always challenge. I think I made a personal mantra out of this, reassuring people that they can contribute to innovation. Let’s not forget Innovation doesn’t appear overnight, it is a cumulative process and the line between optimization and Innovation is a thin one. Creativity, collaboration, timing, and adaptability are the underlying factors of innovation.

Alexandru: As you know, we don't have a background in writing code or anything related to Machine Learning. When coming up with the idea, we needed to self-study a little bit about what Artificial Intelligence is, and how it works. So here we are, with an ongoing Machine Learning project.

Also, 2 colleagues from our team won a different Innovation competition, a Hackathon in SG GSC, with an idea for a collaborative training tool. They won out of hundreds of other ideas and I want to mention that our colleagues are not developers, but their idea was so good that it gathered help from UX designers and developers and evolved into a cool prototype.


Andreea Balaci: How come there are so many initiatives coming from your CFT team?

Angela: Thank you for observing we are a creative team :). Well, I think it comes from the mindset we foster. Actually, innovation is a core value of our global business, so Societe Generale Group opened the innovation collection platforms to absolutely anyone, no matter their background, this including our company SG GSC, in Romania.  Support is given for those who propose good ideas.  So a first step would be to submit your ideas to these platforms or simply talk to your colleagues and managers about it!


Andreea Balaci: Thank you both for your insights! As a closing argument, could you share with us the conclusion you drew after being involved in the innovation process, from idea pitching to product creation

Angela:  Yes, definitely, I concluded you have to calibrate your expectations when it comes to the implementation steps of your proposal! You need to put an elbow into it, be proactive and work for it! Any change proposal you make is an engagement, not an easy one, but possible and fully rewarding.

Alexandru: Well, Angela, all the above are drawbacks, it’s important to have these in mind, but do not discourage our listeners, even though let’s keep it real; statistics say 7% of the innovation ideas get implemented, which is a small percentage. 

These are indeed some good points that anyone should be aware of when they start their own innovation journey.  Societe Generale Global Solutions Center is committed to support Innovation and the people that make it happen, irrespective of their background.


#DevCast – Creating waves in the IT Industry

 

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