Happy International Women’s Day 2020
Welcome everyone. This month I have the pleasure of interviewing Alexa Guenoun – our newly appointed President, TEMENOS Americas. As one of our most senior female leaders, I thought it would be fitting that I interview her for this year’s International Women’s Day 2020 blog edition. The theme for this blog is #ASeatAtTheTable.
Alexa is part of the TEMENOS Executive Committee, and has responsibility for both North and Latin America, so you can imagine what her day to day must be like. She’s a woman who drives solutions, manages multiple teams and priorities, and is tenacious and on the go at ALL times.
Be sure to read some of her leadership advice and words of wisdom towards the end of the blog. I really enjoyed her openness.
Remember to – Enjoy, Embrace, Empower!
Alexa Guenoun – President, Americas & Global Head of Partners, TEMENOS
Alexa Guenoun is President, Americas and Global Head of Partners at TEMENOS. She joined the company in 2006, and held a number of leadership roles, including as part of the TEMENOS Executive Committee, prior to her appointment to oversee the strategy and customer success for North America and Latin America.
Tell us about you! What laid the foundation for who you are today?
I was born and raised in the Paris suburbs, a true city girl! During high school I majored in Math and Science. I then enrolled in a French and American business school in Paris, earning a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Finance. For somebody like me who dreamed of an international career, I knew that being not only bilingual, but also having a dual business culture, would be beneficial.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
Hard-working, tenacious, personable.
How did you start your career in banking and financial technology? Why technology?
I actually started in Luxembourg in a private bank. I was as an Internal Auditor and branched in to banking software after 2 ½ years through a recruiter’s call, telling me that IT was not only for developers. I have been in this business ever since, almost 23 years!
You are on the TEMENOS Executive Committee, you are Global Head of Partners and you were recently named President of the Americas for TEMENOS. Congratulations! Did you ever imagine you would be a leader in a male-dominated field and be where you are today?
Whether I imagined that I would manage to get there, I don’t know; whether I dreamed about it and did all I could to get there through hard work – YES. The fact that it was a male-dominated industry was not really part of the equation for me, if I had thought that this was going to be limiting I wouldn’t have joined that industry.
If I had to share some advice: be authentic, be yourself. People will see through you if you are not! Be a woman, own it, but always remember that this doesn’t excuse you from putting in the hard work. I truly believe that given equal competencies, creating more opportunities for women enhances leadership because we see things differently. We approach problems from a collaborative solution angle and we have a highly empathetic approach. You cannot imagine how far this will take you – enjoy the ride
We often hear what a big impact that mentoring has on people’s careers. How did you build up your network? And what is one core message you received from your mentors?
I am not sure I consciously build a network, but I like people. I believe that by being gracious to everybody, not taking yourself seriously and leading by example, you get people to rally around you. They want to help you, support you and make you successful. This is what I sought to create in each of the companies I worked for.
In some of the leadership advice for women out there, women hear that they need to act like a man in order to succeed, tips on how to manage men versus women, and the difficulties in dynamics with reporting to men versus women. What have been some of your real-world experiences and what advice would you give other women?
I have been fortunate to work for people who didn’t discriminate based on gender, and rewarded their teams based on performance, so I guess I have been lucky in that sense.
However, I truly believe that we have to be authentic – be women and act like women! I don’t think we should fight men on their own turf. Using relationship skills when you also have the solid credentials to carry out business is a benefit. Nobody criticizes men for using their strength and assertiveness to break the ice sometimes, so why shouldn’t we use what comes naturally to us?
As far as reporting to men, I have one piece of advice to male managers out there: women cry, that’s okay! It is not a sign of weakness but more often than not, it is out of frustration and because we care, and sometimes that manifests in the workplace. Instead of viewing it as a sign of weakness, support our passion as we work together toward a common goal.
Most people, no matter how experienced they are, get nervous before big meetings or presentations. How do you prepare yourself for important meetings or for the main stage?
I believe that you have to own and truly understand the topic to feel confident and then do well in your delivery. I study and research the topic, and when I believe that I have mastered it, I know that I will be able to adapt my delivery to the feedback I perceive from the audience.
I have to say that I am also very lucky that I do not have stage fright! I guess I have to credit my 15 years of ballet and several performances over the years for that!
What is your favorite part of the job? What are you looking forward to most?
Meeting people from different cultures and different backgrounds, being able to help them but also learn from them… and being on a winning team!!
We’ll close with a fun question – what was your last indulgence?
2 pairs of 4-inch stilettos bought in Miami when I was touring the US offices following my nomination as President of TEMENOS Americas!