Home>My role at Société Générale is to “enable others’ greatness”


My role at Société Générale is to “enable others’ greatness”

On Tuesday March 5th, the Sciences Po American Foundation celebrated its 15th anniversary year with the 2024 Annual Benefit Dinner. We honored Slawomir Krupa, CEO of Societe Generale, with the Stanley Hoffmann Award. With over two decades of experience internationally in the finance sector, and as a proud Sciences Po alum (class of ‘96), he is a perfect realization of Sciences Po’s mission to educate future international leaders.

Mr. Krupa was interviewed by special guest Vladimir Duthiers, Peabody and Emmy award winning journalist and featured host of “CBS Mornings”. During their discussion, Krupa shared the importance of teamwork, integrity, and exceeding expectations throughout his personal and professional life.

Krupa’s personal journey started as a child in the 1970s, at the fall of communist Poland. His parents, both academics, taught him that “nothing is impossible… the only thing [limiting] your life is whatever you choose to be your limitation.” Throughout his career, though unconventional for a CEO of a major French bank, he has followed what he calls a very conventional path, based on hard work and luck- meeting amazing people at Sciences Po as a student, and at Societe Generale through the last 25 years.

As a student, since immigrating to France at the age of 7, Krupa always wished to study at Sciences Po. The university’s prestige and his initial interest in working in public service, had attracted him to the school. His time at Sciences Po shaped his path to follow in many ways. Sciences Po’s multidisciplinary approach taught him not to broach any issue in his life without understanding that there are “systematically, a number of angles… political, historical, economic, ethical.” He learned how to think: “thought is a process, not an emotion.” And, he learned how to write in an effective way- which is, as he describes it, “the one thing I do every day throughout my career”.

Early in his career at Societe Generale, Krupa left the banking industry to found a tech startup. When asked what he would tell his younger self, Krupa insisted “first of all, I would tell him to do it… to leave the bank”. His time away from the bank allowed him to return to his home country of Poland, fulfilling an emotional onus to return and an interest to experience the many changes in the country’s transformation post-communism. Though he “failed miserably” in his start-up ambitions, the journey led him to meet his best friend and partner in life, his wife Magdalena, without whom he “would not be where [he is] today.” This departure from banking allowed him to learn, this time from practical experience rather than parental advice, not to listen to the limitations that others set for him.

His entrepreneurial spirit still drives him in leading Societe Generale, and his team, in their endeavors to be accountable and responsible to their clients. Despite being one of the youngest CEOs of a top global bank, and maintaining an entrepreneurial attitude, Krupa still values an old-fashioned approach with clients. He emphasized that the core of his role at Societe Generale is to “enable others’ greatness”, which is not in the end about technical skills, but about “strength, confidence, and counsel.” The biggest compliment he received from a client, when he asked why they decided on Societe Generale for their project, was that “you were the most passionate.”

Krupa is on record stating he is proud to be a banker; that he is most passionate about the power that bankers have as a part of a complex global system. In his view, bankers are in a very noble position: “not ourselves directly, but through our clients and our ethics… and the way we manage the risks we are entrusted with.”

When asked on his hopes for his legacy, Krupa clarified that as a CEO, he wants people to recognize him “as captain of a team”; that those who think of his team think “they had a big challenge, and they did it… with good people, good intentions, [and] the right values.” As a person, the answer is more simple: “I want to be someone who was a good father, a good husband, a good friend… a good guy. That’s more than enough.”