Ardian Generation Women
Updated: Jan 5
On Thursday, November 25, 2021, Ardian organized the second edition of Generation Women, the event dedicated to students who want to learn more about the various investment profession.
As part of the WinFin initiative - an EDHEC student association aiming to promote gender diversity and opportunities in the financial sector, here is what we learned.
About the company Ardian
Ardian is a world-leading private investment house majority owned by its employees. We manage or advise $120bn across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Middle East, on behalf of governments, institutions, pension funds and high-net-worth investors. We are an entrepreneurial business, focused on supporting talented management teams to build sustainable, growing companies. We are committed to sharing our success as widely as possible – with investors, with employees in the companies we support and with society at large.
About the event Generation Women
We had the pleasure of listening to Marion Calcine, Chief Investment Officer in the Infrastructure team, then Florence Servan-Schreiber, on the learning of boldness and self-confidence.
This conference was followed by sub-group discussions led by women from the financial professions, - about their daily life, their journey, the meaning of their job and their life balance - to help students discover their future vocation.
Focus on Marion Calcine’s testimony
Marion Calcine has been Chief Investment Officer of the Ardian Infrastructure team since September 2020. She was hired in the company (formerly called “AXA Private Equity”) as an Analyst fifteen years ago, following her studies at ENSAE, - « Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique ». She found her work as an analyst so captivating, constantly working on Excel modellling, deep diving into the business strategies, that she never left the company ever since.
From “Baby Analyst” - as she likes to say - to CIO Infrastructure, Marion has witnessed Ardian’s growth to its now world-leading position in the private investment sector. Even though she was not coming from a traditional high-profile background, her curiosity and openness to learn pushed her forward.
Today Marion identifies herself as a motivated professional, mother of 2, and is married. Her personal and working lives are balanced, nourishing, even fuelling each other. She reminds us of the importance of choosing the right company in which we will evolve. To her, Ardian is one of them. Indeed, the company takes meticulous care of its employees at all stages of life - e.g., training, diverse types of support such as kids’ daycare, etc. Marion always felt she mattered and was useful to the company without compromising her personal life.
From “Baby Analyst” to Infrastructure Managing Director
Being a Managing Director implies being the project lead, the pivot point of the team. The Managing Director monitors valuation, interacts with everyone, negotiates with sellers, advisors, bankers, etc. Also, the Managing Director’s role is to convince the top management of the transaction soundness. Her engagement is even more important as her team often takes a controlling stake in companies they invest in.
Vision is long-term, commitment can last a decade for operations pertaining to Infrastructure projects, meaning projects relating to transport - with airports, roads, or even parking lots, etc… - , energy, or telecommunications across Europe and the Americas.
The strategic input is direct, Ardian seats at board of directors while never interfering with the target top management’s responsibilities.
Nevertheless, Ardian has a strong impact on societies by working on the improvement of societies’ infrastructures. On this topic, Marion recalled with enthusiasm her career debut as an Analyst, when she worked on a major airport transaction. She had to conduct the analysis on the possible price for the asset, depending on identified criteria, as traffic, retail revenues, organization of space within the airport, . She also quoted the numerous investments in renewables which her team has done over the past years.
Investment professional, a meaningful job?
As time went by, the question of purpose came quite quickly.
In terms of social responsibility, work ethic is outstanding at Ardian. Commitment is strong and meaningful since infrastructure assets offer essential services to people and communities, with all that it involves in terms of responsibility. “We help companies grow, move forward; our vision is sustainable”.
Concerning environment, strong commitments are taken by Ardian, such as tight limitations on investment into coal. Also, Ardian is among the leaders in investment into energy transition (renewables, but also companies transitioning out of coal and gas into renewables).
Being a woman at Ardian
Ardian welcomed Marion in 2007, 14 years ago. Finance was and remains a predominantly masculine field, even more so in the Infrastructure sector. She was often the only woman in the meeting room, surrounded by a number of male colleagues and co-workers.
Some strange anecdotes used to occur - people happened to overlook her, forgetting to greet Marion before meetings as they thought she was someone else’s assistant. This kind of interaction undoubtedly forged her character.
Had she not been a woman, Marion highlighted she might have not been as pushed forward as she has been in her career. Her experience as a woman enabled her to bring a fresh new perspective, a different view to the table, which turned her gender into an asset.
Any tips/ recommendations for candidates?
First and foremost, dare to apply even if one does not come from the traditional high-profile background. Even if one does not meet 100% of the requirements. Marion was not coming from a particularly privileged background nor had she studied corporate finance. But she still applied.
Then, technical skills are important, but other things matter a lot: work ethics but also balance and diplomacy.
Identifying one’s mentors and sponsors constitutes a crucial step. On the one hand, mentors will help you punctually, while on the other hand sponsors invest in you in the long run, pushing you out of your comfort zone. They can be more experienced colleagues, or even bosses, who will accelerate your career.
Lastly, be yourself, and don’t hesitate to smile !