“Chennai has been a life-changing experience for me”

Daniel Hernandez, Head- Societe Generale Global Solution Centre, Chennai Branch writes about the founding day of one of India’s oldest cities – Madras. #MadrasDay2020 stirs up strong emotions for Daniel – read more about how the vibrant city has found a special place in his heart.

As they say, Chennai is a city, but Madras is the emotion. This is what my experience has been – that of a modern city with deep values, diverse people, vibrant culture, rich architecture and full of tradition. My Chennai experience was made possible when I moved here in 2018 to be a part of Societe Generale Global Solution Centre (SG GSC), which had been set up in Chennai four years ago. And of course, working with our passionate teams has certainly made my Chennai experience extra special. 

Madras, or Chennai as it is now known, is such a vibrant city, full of life and so much magic. It has been little over two years that I’ve been here and I’m still in awe of its beauty. My family and I had always wanted to come to India, so when I was offered the opportunity to head SG GSC in Chennai, we were excited about the opportunity! The first impression was very positive, as people were very welcoming, the food was great, and it felt like the start of a big adventure for all of us. It’s been a life-changing experience for me and my family. Moreover, we don’t have to wear winter clothes anymore, as compared to France!

The best part about moving to Chennai is its people, who are dynamic and full of energy and this is contagious. There are times I don’t take the car, since I’m not too fond of using them to commute and this allows me to experience the city. I’ve visited most of the landmarks. My favourite part of the city is its incredible beach. It’s a pleasure to take long walks there, where I enjoy Chennai in all its glory – the sights and sounds that are unique to this city that I’ve come to love.

As for the business landscape, banking and financial services (BFSI) has been a key industry in Chennai for some time. What has changed is that Societe Generale is now a recognised name in the city. We are known for our resilience and ability to bounce back in no time. We have faced calamities with bravery and solidarity in challenging times such as the floods, and now the pandemic.

Societe Generale began its journey in Chennai in 2014 with one office in DLF IT Park. We launched our second office in Cambridge, Ramanujam IT Park in February 2017 and recently acquired a new floor which interconnects the two phases in DLF. The offices are by design inclusive workspaces, like our culture in Societe Generale. They are energy efficient and promote sustainability.  The Chennai operation has steadily built capacity and acquired a large talent pool with vast potential that has steadily grown to around 1,700 employees. We are recognised for our quality of life at work, ethics and innovative thinking. Our research and innovation partnership with IIT Madras is unique and our capacity to employ proficient French speakers given the proximity to Pondicherry also gives us an advantage. The flagship open innovation program run across India (Catalyst) is progressing virtually this year and also attracted start-ups in Chennai.

I have to say that the emotion of Madras is most felt in our staff, who bring passion for work, innovation and social and environmental consciousness into everything they do. Our Green IT initiatives are run by volunteers and have significantly reduced the carbon footprint across our Bangalore and Chennai offices. They are happy to volunteer most of their weekends at partner NGO programs, which focus on promotion of education, empowerment of women, environment, sustainability and sports.

At SG GSC Chennai, I can say, without hesitation, that my colleagues are the biggest reason I enjoy working here. There is a great wisdom, simplicity and spirituality in ‘Chennaiites’, and thanks to them, Societe Generale is a great place to work.

I am excited to be here, to be a part of all this action, and see how we grow and transform.

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