Jamie Kopsachilis, a self-proclaimed poster child for internal mobility, excels at transformation. She began her journey with Societe Generale (SG), the first major French bank to be granted a full US banking license, in an IT capacity and then moved to finance, upgrading legacy systems and leading the company’s first offshoring. After serving as a divisional financial officer, she reached out to a colleague leading HR in search of a new opportunity.
This ask demonstrates Kopsachilis acting on one of her axioms. “Be dedicated and driven, leverage relationships, raise your hand, and constantly seek opportunities to learn and grow,” she says. The ask paid off. Kopsachilis became HR’s chief operating officer and later added head of HR services to her purview. In 2020, she celebrates thirty years with SG and a great deal of personal and professional growth with the company.
Her role changed in July 2020 as she transitioned some operational functions to the newly formed total rewards unit to focus on the management of HR strategic initiatives, regulatory projects, and recruitment as HR COO & head of HR strategy and talent acquisition.
“Some of my biggest successes have been in roles where I accepted opportunities and challenges that were outside of my comfort zone,” Kopsachilis says. This, she explains, results from a tenacious desire to follow her values, be genuine, and build on her strengths, as well as bring new perspectives to the table.
Kopsachilis shifted to HR with a keen financial perspective. While working in SG’s finance division, HR had been a client, offering her departmental knowledge from a unique vantage. Kopsachilis also leans on a strong consulting background for her collaborative project management skills. And “I was an employee outside of HR,” she says, which layers on a lens of personal experience when evaluating user experience and process efficiencies.
“Jamie’s knowledge and expertise in HR and business operations make her an asset to both her organization and her strategic business partners,” says Deb Watters, senior vice president and managing consultant, and the team at USI Insurance Services. “She is creative, practical, and always knows the right questions to ask to keep a project moving forward. It has been a pleasure to work and learn from her.”
“It is better to help people find the next challenge than to lose the talent.”
Kopsachilis seeks transformation for others’ careers as well. The firm sees many internal mobility success stories, and Kopsachilis dedicates herself to facilitating internal moves for other employees. “It is better to help people find the next challenge than to lose the talent,” she explains.
To support internal growth and retention, Kopsachilis fosters leadership-level conversations around methods for better understanding staff potential and has been a longtime mentor for staff. Employees can self-identify skills and competencies that leadership and recruiters can easily draw upon when looking for new talent or expertise.
As Kopsachilis helps shepherd in the new, she pays homage to SG’s legacy. The organization has a rich history stretching back more than 150 years and operates in 67 countries with over 147,000 employees. Kopsachilis says this history can be witnessed in SG’s modern and collaborative workspace that is juxtaposed with remnants of the bank’s deep European roots, such as the intricate mosaic floor tile and stained glass panels inspired by the interior architecture of the Boulevard Haussmann Branch Bank in Paris.
More than these flourishes, leadership takes the responsibility for caring for its employees very seriously. She remembers her first benefits package presentation, assuming they would want to go with the least expensive option. Instead, she witnessed a conversation about concerns around wellness and the economic impact of benefit changes on all levels of employees.
Kopsachilis leads by seeking to market SG’s fundamental ethos to a diverse group of potential employees. She seeks more than a set of candidates with specific sets of hard skills. “Some of the best hires I have made are people that are resourceful—those with grit, drive, and passion,” she says.
In both hiring and employment, Kopsachilis says that due to SG’s smaller size in the Americas, individuals have greater opportunities to work on a broad array of projects that have a significant impact on the staff they support. SG sponsors eight active employee resource groups, a signal of the company’s continued focus and commitment to diversity and inclusion, Kopsachilis says.
“Some of my biggest successes have been in roles where I accepted opportunities and challenges that were outside of my comfort zone.”
Since its founding over fourteen years ago, Kopsachilis has actively served on SG’s Americas Women’s Network (AWN) and is currently its president. The network boasts over four hundred members and allies with chapters in New York, Chicago, Houston, and Montreal. The AWN makes a significant impact on helping move the needle on gender diversity at SG, and with the CEO as an active sponsor of AWN, there is a deep commitment to a diverse and inclusive culture from executive leadership.
To help AWN achieve its goals, Kopsachilis brings to bear some of her ideas that are essential for advancement. Beyond self-advocacy, she says, “it is critical to have advisors, mentors, and sponsors—people willing to provide honest and critical feedback, as well as individuals who will use their political clout on the line to support and advocate for you when you are not in the room.” She sees this work, and her work on the SG Diversity Council, as fundamental in trying to ensure that employees can genuinely bring their whole selves to work.
Participation with the network, and allyships with other ERGs, provides a huge benefit in her HR role. “In HR it is imperative to imbed diversity into all our processes,” she says.
Kopsachilis will receive a card from SG filled with notes of congratulations on her thirty years with the bank. She will thumb through a digital catalogue and pick out a commemorative gift and receive two additional PTO days for the year. These are details she initiated as part of a transversal team dedicated to improving recognition and engagement. A well-received twenty-five-year club formal reception was also introduced to recognize the value that long-tenured staff provide.
Along with her thirty years, Kopsachilis will celebrate HR transformations she has overseen or helped implement at SG: digital and transparent onboarding, a revamped and interactive orientation experience, a recognition program, and highly competitive and inclusive benefits and policies.
Perhaps most exciting and fulfilling for Kopsachilis is to see her HR staff now seek new challenges, ferret out improvements, and ask themselves, “Why do we do it like this?” She truly embodies and promotes the SG brand: “The future is you.”
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