In our series, “Get to know the customer,” Axway focuses on getting to the heart of the people behind our customers in an informative behind-the-scenes Q&A.
Last month, we profiled Scott Marshall, Director of Application Delivery Services at AmerisourceBergen. Today we profile Julien Bichon, Open Banking Project Manager at Natixis and founder of the Collectif API Thinking.
Julien took time out of his busy schedule to provide us with some fascinating insights into his daily schedule and how it all fits together to provide a fantastic client experience.
Natixis and its background
Natixis is a French multinational financial services firm and is part of Groupe BPCE (the fourth largest bank in France, and 19th in the world according to S&P). They specialize in asset and wealth management, corporate and investment banking, as well as insurance and payments.
Natixis supports corporations, investors, financial institutions, and institutional clients worldwide, as well as the customers of the Banque Populaire and Caisse d’Epargne banking networks to help them achieve their goals.
Tell us something about yourself! What is your current role, experience, and background?
I started as an intern at “Informatique Banques Populaires” in 2008. After working on various projects, I have been working on APIs for five years, first for BPCE as head of the Open API offer and then since February 2021 at Natixis within the Open Platform and APIs program. I am proud to say that I have spent my entire career with the BPCE Group.
Tell us more about API Thinking Collective?
I created a French group, Collectif API Thinking, in May 2020, first with historical banking players, a few fintechs, and an insurer.
Why? To bring API producers (banks) and API consumers (fintechs) around the same table (more specifically, a phone, especially because we were in lockdown).
Under PSD2, the understanding was not very cohesive. The challenges of the first meetings were to better understand consumers’ expectations, and the difficulties faced by producers were the challenges of the first meetings.
From the start, we exceeded the perimeter of the PSD2. We opened up to other sectors of activity rapidly and went from 16 companies to today’s nearly 90 French-speaking companies.
We have six workshops each month (API Portal, Governance, Architecture, Security, Digitally Responsible API, and Acculturation) and have a French ecosystem that meets regularly. These exchanges help to capitalize on the collective. We have our first partners, such as Axway. What a path they blazed for this group.
What does a day in the life of Julien look like?
It starts early in the morning because I get up in the morning, not necessarily according to Parisian schedules. I take a quick look at LinkedIn and then I deal with my emails before my first meetings.
Between meetings, reports, networking, and support for Natixis business lines, the day goes by fast. I enjoy doing multiple things at the same time. I don’t like being bored or doing the same thing for a long time.
As for my holidays? I already use a lot of them to teach at the University of Nantes, where I have the chance to lecture regularly.
In which field do you teach at Nantes University?
I am co-responsible for the Masters in Information System Management. I, therefore, teach project management, testing, soft skills, agile concepts, and so on.
I also mentor students in tutored projects. These projects are extremely important for the students. It allows them to be aware of the professional world and to know the professional requirements while discovering technologies, tools, and solutions.
Unlike teacher-researchers, I bring a professional side from my own business experience. I only teach them things that I have experienced or already have done.
I often tell them that I do not know everything, I am not a Wikipedia encyclopedia. I remind them it’s a chance for them to have professional teachers.
Typically, they are often waiting for clear and precise instructions. On the contrary, I let them use their creativity because they will need it in their daily professional life.
I love sharing my own experiences. These students will be the colleagues of tomorrow, and above all, they will pay for my retirement.
What are your passions?
Every day, I love my job. Between Natixis, the API Thinking collective, and France API, the university (during my “holidays”), the time remaining is not infinite.
Being from the coast, I love to return there to recharge my batteries and take the opportunity to go boating, I believe that is my greatest passion, after APIs!
Tell us something most people don’t know about you.
I am never cold, even in winter. As a result, I often work from home in shorts with a shirt — it’s a secret.
What is your all-time favorite movie, show, book, or song, and why?
I enjoy reading on the train between my house and Paris, whether I’m going to Natixis or returning. I enjoy diving into a book, whether it’s a fiction novel or an adventure like Mike Horn’s latest, and letting my mind visualize what the characters look like and how they would react in the situation described in the book.
Thanks to books, we have all the freedom to imagine.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
Live your dreams, travel, step out of your comfort zone. Life is too short to have regrets, and yet we all have them, regardless of our age.
Thank you, Julien, for sharing your insightful information with Axway.
Watch the video interview with Julien Bichon from Axway’s 20th anniversary.