Julien Benitah, France
Can you start by telling us a bit more about yourself and what you do at EY?
I currently work in the Capital Market and Advisory Team here in Paris. My ambitions are to help our clients, most being corporate investment banks, to develop new business and manage their transformation in the industry. Basically, we are in the Core Business Services (CBS) industry, which is in the middle of huge transformation, where we need to revisit the way we do business. We have major regulatory constraints, and I believe that the capital markets industry is the most regulated industry in the world as there is huge pressure on the margin of profit and cost. So, to help with these changes, our clients need to change the way they do business and we are there to help them do just that.
I’ve always worked in the capital markets industry. I’ve had the chance to travel as my first job was based in the Middle East, which was very different from my previous experiences as a consultant at a consulting firm in Paris. It gave me another view on the consulting side of the business and was very different to what I did at PwC. It led me to accept an opportunity to work with EY as an executive director, which was very exciting. I had a few contacts from EY, so I had heard good things about working for the company and I was looking forward to starting this new job.
Do you think there is flexibility in your client‑facing role?
Yes, definitely. You have to be able to have a sense of trust with your client. When you work on strategy content, you are not delivery-orientated. There is a lot of flexibility at EY because, we are a big company — where you are able to work in your role with many other employees and yet, there is a sense of control over your own diary and what you need to do in the time you set. You work with so many people, you become a family — which is a really nice environment to work in. In terms of quality of life, it is a demanding industry, but once you create the trust between you and your clients, you can easily balance your personal and work life well. EY allows you to do this.
We’ve been told by many people in your team that you are an amazing role model in the workplace. For you personally, as a leader of your team, what legacy do you want to create at EY?
Firstly, I am happy to hear that. I am proud to have the opportunity to work with this team. My team is consistent and motivated, and the environment collegiate. Everyone feels valued and respects the hierarchy. They all have a path that they have created. I work along with them to make sure they are in the field they really like and that they are happy in their roles. I try to build my legacy in being consistent in what I do as well as making sure they are in the best condition to achieve their goals and be the best they can be. It is really important to have your team’s thoughts as part of your decisions being a leader. Everyone’s input is valuable and they will help you provide better working outcomes. I want to be able to leave knowing that I have helped my team to get to where they want to be in their careers.
What would you say are the best qualities in a leader?
Humility is the best quality that you can have. You have to be able to teach your team what to do to give your clients value. You need to be able to share your knowledge with your team and help them to develop individually. Also, you need to be able to develop good habits. Good habits equal a good work ethic. The other aspect is transparency. We make decisions every day, so we need to communicate clearly. Our vision and explanations must be simple for our clients to understand. It is all about communication, with my team and with my clients.
As a team, we discuss and debate the best ways to achieve success in both — the way we work together and for our clients. I try my best to make sure that I help everyone as much as I can and to communicate with them all the time. Ambition is something that is important as well, because you need to have your own path to develop your personal goals as well as strengthen your interactions and relationships in your role. Sometimes, you are not where you want to be, because things are challenging .Your clients may request complex jobs, therefore you need to have some flexibility in order to deliver in your daily role. We all have an agenda. The most important thing is to find the common grounds to be consistent in what you do. You are never bored working in this industry, you can be tired, but always excited.
Who do you admire in the workplace?
I don’t have any admiration for any individual per say. However I admire people’s acts and decisions in the workplace.
What kind of risks have you taken in your career and have they paid off?
Moving to the Middle East was definitely a risk. At the time I joined, I had no other choices, but it was still a risk. I finished my studies and the market was challenging at this time, and it was difficult to find a fixed job in the banking industry here.
However, at the end of my internship, I was offered the opportunity of a further internship focussed on assisting French companies develop their businesses abroad. This was a huge opportunity for me. I took a risk, moving to a new market, but it was worth it in the end. It helped me with my career journey. It was a great experience and opened up many doors for me.
What do you think about the networking at EY in general?
It is imperative that we strive to develop our relationships. Our EMEIA colleagues are committed to working hard and working together on projects. Within FSO EMEIA, we are quite unique. We are combining a lot of expertise that other companies aren’t able to do. We have auditors and specialists in finance and risk, HR and legal, and tax , and with all of this we can be a one-stop shop for our clients. We are dedicated to forming high-performing teams and my role is to ensure we continue to consistently deliver what our clients require so the relationships and networking at EY is key to provide value to our clients. It is also key to have these relationships and networking outside of EY and to maintain it. I try to maintain it by organizing a relaxed and social meeting to discuss needs and continue to build a good relationship, trust and bond.