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Smart Enterprise: Greater Expectations

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lobal banking and financial services company BNP Paribas is among the world's top 20 companies, and Hervé Gouëzel has played an active role in the group's growth for the last 20 years. CIO of the financial services company from 1995 to 2007, Gouëzel today is an advisor to the BNP Paribas management team. He is also chiefly responsible for steering a merger, now ongoing, between Paris-based BNP Paribas and Belgian bank Fortis. For someone who worked more than a decade in technology, Gouëzel never intended to make a career in IT. After graduating from France's prestigious École Polytechnique and gaining an MBA from the HEC business school in Paris, a career in industry, with a focus on management control, seemed like the natural choice. "I don't like the technical side," Gouëzel says. "But deep down, I've been involved in IT practically all my life." In 1988, the then-32-year-old Gouëzel joined BNP Group as IT Manager. He quickly moved up the ladder to Deputy Manager of the banking network for the Paris suburbs. "Being number two in the suburban network was an essential experience for me," Gouëzel recounts. "IT costs money, and before you learn how to spend money, you need to learn how to earn it." Seven years later, in 1995, Gouëzel was appointed Chief Information Systems and Organizational Officer. And just three months later, he was appointed to the executive committee. For the next 12 years, Gouëzel oversaw some 15,000 IT technicians — including 10,000 in-house staff — and a global IT budget of more than 3 billion euros. He also earned a successful track record meeting several IT challenges, including a move to the euro, maneuvering through Y2K, completing the merger of BNP and Paribas, and integrating Italian bank BNL. During those years, BNP Paribas enjoyed a 50-fold growth in revenue and increased its overall staff to 200,000 employees from 40,000. But in 2007, Gouëzel, then 55, opted to resign from the position of CIO and leave the bank's executive committee. Today, when asked about his departure, he replies, "I'd been a dedicated worker all my life, every day and every evening. You need to leave some work behind for the younger generation." Next, Gouëzel became a consultant. Drawing on his years of experience, he began to provide valuable insights to BNP Group's general management and, somewhat later, to BNP Paribas' 40 business leaders. Today Gouëzel leverages his CIO expe- rience and draws on his knowledge of the group's organization, business lines and human resources. "CIOs see everything that happens in the company; they know everything and everyone," he says. "I'd been supporting the group's business lines for 20 years, and I understand their problems, which is the least you can do before you can claim to advise them." More recently, in 2008 Gouëzel was asked by Baudouin Prot, Chairman of BNP Paribas, to coordinate the merger of BNP Paribas and Fortis. The deal is Europe's largest bank merger, involving 1.3 billion euros in restructuring costs and an expected 900 million euros in annual synergies. The merger also involves some 1,200 internal projects, of which nearly half are IT-related, Gouëzel says. What is the key to a smooth merger? Efficient project management, Gouëzel says. "A non-groupwide approach is one of IT's main enemies," he explains. "Organizations, business processes and collective knowledge must be standardized." Gouëzel plans to spend another 18 months on the Fortis merger. And after ward? "We'll see!" ■ JEAN-CHRISTOPHE LATOURNERIE is an editor at Mémo Technique in Paris. Hervé Gouëzel finds a second career at BNP Paribas. | By Jean-Christophe Latournerie From CIO to Corporate Advisor Career Smarts PHOTOGRAPH: COURTESY OF BNP PARIBAS G Hervé Gouëzel 52 SMARTENTERPRISEMAG.COM

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