Inside Temenos – A Series of Inspiring Career Journeys, Alexa Guenoun
“I truly believe that we can be successful no matter what our gender is, no matter what background we have, so long as we work hard to achieve our goals.”
1. Who is Alexa at home? What are your hobbies/passions?
For me home is all about family. Though I have only one sister, I come from a large family, mostly dominated by women. With four aunts, one uncle and twelve cousins, my weekends are filled with fun and parties around food and music. At home, I have been named the “Best Aunt in the Entire World” by my nephew and niece, my sisters’ eight year-old twins that I adore, and that actually beats Chief Client Officer (sorry Temenos :)).
As passions, I developed a huge interest in fashion and shopping (you would wonder where my love for shoes and handbags come from). I enjoy entertaining my guests, cooking and baking for them. In addition, I love theater, especially musicals.
2. Tell us about your career journey. What attracted you to banking software?
I have to say that I did not choose banking software. My career started in a Private Bank in Luxembourg after graduating a business school and majoring in Finance.
Later I was headhunted for a job at Midas-Kapiti, the ancestor of Misys (now Finastra). At first I thought it was Midas, the muffler company (in my defense my dad was a car dealer so my references were a bit skewed), then I thought: “I am not a geek, I can barely use Word and Excel so what would a software company do with me?”
I joined them anyway and spent ten years there, doing mostly Pre-Sales and Global Account/Program Management in Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Singapore and New York. Then, I decided to come back to Europe and accepted to join Temenos almost thirteen years ago.
Looking back now, what was a chance encounter with Banking Software lead to the best career move! I discovered a dynamic industry where I could develop my skills in management and finance, combining them with constant customer interaction through various projects and sales support/sales roles. Furthermore, I find it thrilling to have the opportunity to be involved in innovation by creating new products as well as the international exposure and multicultural environment that we have in Temenos, which cannot be found anywhere else in the banking industry.
3. How do you feel about the fact that only 25% women are attracted to the technology industry?
I think I understand why at first very few women are attracted by this industry – they might see it as a place for “geeks” (I certainly know I did) and perhaps they are not interested in a technical career. Or, on the contrary, they could think we are a Sales enabled organization that will have them on the road all the time, which may be challenging with a family.
I believe now, more than ever, we need to rethink the way we position ourselves as a technology company and showcase the multiple career paths one could take in Temenos, irrespective of their gender. It’s always good to remind people that tech companies are not only looking for engineers, but also need talent in Sales, Marketing, HR, Finance, etc.
What career advice would you give to your younger self?
Time flies – never forget to take some time off for yourself! Sometimes we enjoy our job so much, it is so intense and fulfilling that it quickly becomes your whole life without even noticing it. It’s important to take a step back and give yourself some time to enjoy both your success and your personal life.
4. Is it important to have a mentor? Did you have a mentor (formal or informal) when you joined Temenos?
I actually believe that having a mentor is very important for one’s career development. In my case, one of my mentors was the one who brought me to Temenos where I met Jean-Michel Hilsenkopf (our current COO and member of the ExCo) that became my new mentor as soon as I joined. Due to Jean-Mi’s relaxed and supportive approach, we managed to work well together from the very first moment.
From day one, I could always go to him for advice, be it about how to manage clients or internal Temenos relationships. I knew he would always be there for me when needed and at the same time tell me when I was wrong.
I even remember crying to him over the phone once. I felt comfortable to do it as I knew that he will not judge me or think less of me just because I showed vulnerability.
Overall, my mentor has always looked out for me and I truly believe that I would not be where I am today without his support. Even to this day, I reach out to him whenever I face an issue or simply need someone to bounce off ideas with.
5. On International Women’s Day, what is the most important message you want to send out to other women thinking about advancing their careers?
I think that we, as women, can sometimes create our own barriers; it is not the rest of the people setting our limits. Being a woman has no limitation; you are therefore free to place your skills forward, not your gender. Once you do that, it will be obvious to everyone that on top of being brilliant you are also a woman, thus setting a new perspective.
I truly believe that we can be successful no matter what our gender is, no matter what background we have, so long as we work hard to achieve our goals. Being a woman is not a merit in its own – after all, remember that half of the human population are women.