"I have always had a clear career plan, and a Plan B."
- Career path and life lessons
- Importance of leadership and teamwork
- Dare to ask questions
"I have always been attracted to working on hard banking matters. In fact, I quickly realized that I would make a career out of it." Eric Pulinx has been Deputy CEO and member of the Executive Committee of BNY (Bank of New York) Mellon's European bank since 2015. "I have always had a very clear career plan, as well as a Plan B," he says.
Eric Pulinx obtained a Master's degree in Applied Economic Sciences at the Université catholique de Louvain (UCLouvain) and added a degree in Derivatives Management and a Master's degree in Auditing and Review. KPMG became his first employer. "Working as a consultant is a wonderful learning opportunity. You go there for various positions in different banks. Thanks to my work at KPMG and my many contacts within the banks, I created a strong network. And, this is a fundamental aspect for a successful career." He stresses the usefulness of liaising with headhunters and the importance of having mentors.
Enthusiasm, drive, commitment and the courage to dive into the trenches are the keys to success.
Challenges motivate the Deputy CEO. "I have always tried to be the best, whether in my professional life or in sport. In the world of finance, and more specifically in an American company active in the financial sector such as BNY Mellon, you have to fight every day. You have to start all over again every day, and just because we won a game yesterday doesn't mean that we will win it today. The world of finance attracted me because I like complex challenges. Tackling a difficult problem is like getting into the ring and trying to win a fight. It's also like diving into the trenches without being afraid, even when you don't know what's going to hit you. Doing everything I can to succeed is what I'm passionate about."
Eager to excel, but also a strong sense of loyalty. "I'm never going to change jobs without being open towards my employer and announcing it in advance. I am convinced of one thing: you can only make a career when you put your employer's interests before your own." He stayed with KPMG for 11 years and at that point he felt like taking over the reins. "As an auditor, you look at what other people do, how they run their business and which decisions have been made."
"In 2009, I seized the opportunity to switch to bpost bank, where there was a 50/50 joint venture between bpost and BNP Paribas Fortis. It was a huge challenge, because at the time, the banking sector was in the midst of a financial crisis. As a member of the management committee, CFO and CRO, I was involved in the huge program of professionalization and modernization. I think back to this time with pleasure. It proved to me that I was not only good at auditing, but also at managing teams."
We are too embarrassed to admit that we don't know everything. Asking questions, listening to the answers and making use of it can only be beneficial.
After just over four years at bpost bank, Eric Pulinx was ready for a new challenge. He chose BNY Mellon, which has 52,000 employees worldwide. In 2013 he became CFO and member of the Executive Committee of BNY Mellon's European Bank. Two years later he was also appointed Deputy CEO. As a manager, Eric Pulinx places great importance on leadership and teamwork. "You can compare the role of a CFO, who not only controls but also has to lead, to that of a chef de cuisine. He doesn't do all the cooking himself, but supervises the whole thing. He has to make sure that the dishes served to the customers are tasty, but also profitable. Perhaps it is possible to offer equally tasty dishes at a lower cost? That's what the CFO has to strive for, but it's only possible with a good team. Then, all objectives can be achieved. Enthusiasm, drive, commitment and the courage to dive into the trenches are the keys to success."
Eric Pulinx advises young people to dare to ask questions. "I see too few young people taking the plunge. We are too embarrassed to admit that we don't know everything. Asking questions, listening to the answers and making use of it can only be beneficial. Saying 'Yes you can' can be very helpful. You have to believe in yourself."
A book about career paths
We bundled Eric's interview, together with those of more than 30 CFOs in a book, entitled “Zo maak je carrière in finance”, “Comment faire carrière dans la finance?” and “So machen Sie Karriere im Finanzbereich”. It is published by Acco and for sale in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.
Are you intrigued? Get your own copy. Take your time to read, get inspired, and use it to reflect on your ambitions and your personal development plan.