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Name: Stephan Pouyat
Title: Managing Director, Chief Strategy Officer
Organisation: The Digital Economist
Stephan Pouyat is a reputed financial businessman, Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director at TheDigitalEconomist, Founder and CEO of BleuMotion and Board Member of 1BussinessWorld.
Mr Pouyat was previously at Euroclear Bank, a €33 Trillion of asset under custody cross-border platform. During his 20-years he covered multiple senior executive roles, including Global Head of Capital Markets & Funds, and co-Division Head in charge of Group Strategy, Product, Business Development, Innovation, and M&A. He is a Global Financial Markets Expert, well- known for implementing large scale multi-billion industry transformations in the global capital market. With 28 years of experience, he is a multi-disciplinary executive, energized by people management, who led large teams across APAC, EMEA and America.
Entrepreneur-minded, operating with Fortune 100 companies at C-Level, he is a trusted advisor and counsellor to financial leaders and head of states on cross-border capital market infrastructures design worldwide. As industry spokeman, Mr Pouyat comes with a large network of global leaders ranging from the World Bank, WEF and Multilateral Development Banks. With a polytechnic degree from EPFL (Switzerland) and an Executive Program from HBS (Harvard Business School, USA), he is technologically savvy, successfully bringing conventional financial transactions through cloud-based / blockchain digital transformation to the virtual world and ESG.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader?
This is a complex question in itself as Leaders are facing more than one challenge at a time. Ultimately, successful leadership requires a combination of strategic thinking, effective communication, and strong interpersonal skills.
Based on my experience, I would say that the biggest challenge is certainly to be able to juggle amongst multiple challenges at a time. Here are few examples:
Decision-making: Leaders are often faced with complex decisions that can have a significant impact on their organization and its stakeholders. Making the right decisions under pressure can be challenging and requires careful analysis and consideration of various factors.
Managing people: Leading a team of individuals with different personalities, skills, and backgrounds can be challenging too. Leaders need to be able to communicate effectively, motivate their team, and resolve conflicts that may arise.
Adapting to change: In today's fast-paced business environment, leaders need to be able to adapt to changes quickly. This can include changes in technology, market conditions, or organizational structure.
Balancing competing demands: Leaders need to balance the needs of various stakeholders, including employees, customers, investors, and regulators. This can be challenging as these stakeholders may have conflicting interests. Building and maintaining a strong organizational culture: Leaders are responsible for setting the tone and values of their organization.
Building and maintaining a strong organizational culture can be challenging, particularly in large and complex organizations.
And the list just doesn't stop here. You need to constantly self-learn, remain motivated and strive for change and innovation.
2. How did you become a leader? Can you please briefly tell the story?
Although I have been working in the financial services industry sector for some time that’s not where my career started.
“I studied at Polytechnique Lausanne (Switzerland) and started my career as an engineer in information services. When I was 24, I felt like exploring the world and so despite knowing only a few English words, I decided to move to the US. My first job after I arrived was not the challenge I had anticipated, so I continued to look for other opportunities. I then found a role within the business performance engineering sector.
Full of hope I put together a proposal for a big German track company based in Pittsburgh but didn’t hear anything back for 3 months. After accepting the fact that I didn’t get the job I got a phone call…with an offer to start immediately! I started as a contractor on a three month contract but after only one month, my boss was so enthusiastic about my work and what I delivered, I was then given the opportunity to setup my own company overnight!”
Later on (prior to joining Euroclear), I was employed by Federated Investors as vice president for e-commerce, where I developed a web-based settlement engine before moving back to France; and three years later I got a call from my previous boss.
“He called and said he was promoted to be the executive management director of the company we both used to work for. He was only 32 years old! I asked him why he was calling me and he said I should come back. My first reaction was to laugh. I was fully settled in France by then. He continued explaining how the funds supermarket we’d created had generated $14 billion of asset transactions in three years and that’s why he was promoted. Then he asked again: Will you come back? And so I did and this was the beginning of my career in the financial services sector. “
During my tenure at Euroclear, a €33 Trillion of asset under custody cross-border platform, I was Global Head of Capital Markets & Funds, and rose to interim Co-Division Head of Group Strategy, Product, Business Development, Innovation, and M&A. I became a Global Financial Markets Expert, well-known for implementing large scale multi-billion industry transformations in the global capital market. With 28 years of experience, I had the pleasure to enjoy multi-disciplinary executive roles, energized by people management, across different time zones and culture such as APAC, EMEA and America. Entrepreneur-minded, operating with Fortune 100 companies at C-Level, I became a trusted advisor and counsellor to financial leaders and head of states on cross-border capital market infrastructures worldwide.
I am currently Managing Director and Chief Strategy Officer at TheDigitalEconomist, Founder and CEO of BleuMotion and Board Member of 1BussinessWorld.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
My daily routine can vary depending on the nature of my work, and the demands of my schedule. However, in general here is how I structure my workday:
Waking up: I usually wake up early to start my day and get a head start on my work. As I only need 4 hours sleep a night, I usually wake up around 5 am.
Exercise: I however prioritize physical fitness and incorporate exercise into my morning routine. This can range from a quick walk or jog to a full workout at the gym.
Morning rituals: I rarely take breakfast but often use the early morning hours to focus my own personal growth. This may include meditation, journaling, or reading.
Meetings and appointments: I tried to minimize the amount of time I spend in meetings, and keep them very short (30 minutes max) so I can cover more ground. I often prioritize building relationships with key stakeholders, whether through one-on-one meetings or attending networking events.
Strategic planning: It is very important for me to set aside time to think about the bigger picture and plan for the future of my organization.
Employee management: As I love coaching and empowering, I spend a reasonable amount of time managing my team and ensuring that everyone is on track to meet their goals.
Administrative tasks: Although it seems like a boring task, I do also spend a fair amount of time dealing with administrative tasks such as responding to emails, reviewing reports, and managing budgets.
Personal time and relaxation: After a busy day, it is critical for me to relax and recharge my batteries. This may include spending time with family and friends, engaging in hobbies, or simply enjoying some downtime.
4. What's a recent leadership lesson you've learned for the first time or been reminded of?
One recent leadership lesson that I have been reminded of is the importance of empathy in leadership. With the pandemic and the challenges it has brought, leaders have had to be more empathetic towards their employees, customers, and other stakeholders. I have had to put myself in other people's shoes and understand their challenges, fears, and concerns. This requires active listening, being present, and being open to feedback.
By demonstrating empathy, I was able to build stronger relationships, improve communication, and create a more positive and supportive work environment. Additionally, I learned overtime that empathetic leaders tend to be more effective in motivating and engaging their teams, leading to better overall performance.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
If I had to choose one book, I will select The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey:
The book is divided into three parts: private victory, public victory, and renewal. In the first part, Covey introduces the idea that to be effective, one must start with oneself. He outlines the first three habits, which are focused on developing independence: being proactive, beginning with the end in mind, and putting first things first.
The second part of the book discusses the next three habits, which are focused on interdependence: thinking win-win, seeking first to understand, then to be understood, and synergizing. These habits are about working effectively with others and building strong relationships.
In the final part of the book, Covey introduces the concept of renewal and discusses the importance of taking care of oneself physically, mentally, and spiritually in order to maintain the ability to be effective over the long term. He concludes by emphasizing the importance of continually striving to improve oneself and one's relationships with others.
Overall, the book is a holistic guide to personal and interpersonal effectiveness, and has had a profound impact on many people's lives and leadership styles, including mine.
6. If you could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, what would you say to them?
If I could only give one piece of advice to a young leader, it would be to focus on building strong relationships with the people they lead. Effective leadership is not just about giving orders and expecting results, it's about developing a sense of trust, respect, and collaboration between leaders and their team members. By investing time and effort in building relationships with team members, young leaders can create a positive work environment, improve communication, and motivate their team members to perform at their best. This can ultimately lead to greater success and achievement for both the leader and their team.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader, so far?
One the of most meaningful story that comes to mind is certainly linked to the aftermath of the Credit Suisse.
The emergency decision taken by the Government of Switzerland to merge Credit Suisse into UBS brings renewed focus on risk management.
The normative framework of ascertaining and managing risk was called into question after the financial crisis of 2007, and subsequent challenges, which offered compelling evidence that the interconnected global financial ecosystem remains vulnerable to various threats.
We understand now that the global financial sector can be imperiled by an event as mundane and regionally limited as the insolvency of California‘s Silicon Valley Bank.
Central banks have deployed measures to stanch the bleeding, yet one wonders whether emergency measures are enough to overcome the inherent fragility of the system.
There is therefore a believe that there is a viable path forward, by assuring real-time data-sharing across jurisdictions.
Regulators now are able to equip themselves with modern real-time cash flow management insights which were previously unavailable. Steering the financial ecosystem to develop a uniform global standard for data sharing to enable rapid responses across jurisdictions is easier said than done. Yet, such alignment will have an extraordinary ripple effect on our daily life as it will allow Capital to flow on the other side of the world safely in order to support our common goods.
It requires a strong leadership to drive this to bed in order to save the planet and our next generations to come.
Convincing top leaders to follow your thought leadership is certainly one of the most rewarding challenge that a leader can face during his career.