KARTESIA FOR WOMEN: CLEMENCE GIRARD-JEANNET, ASSOCIATE
We delve into the heart of our business and speak to Clemence Girard-Jeannet, the first woman to have joined our deal team back in 2018, on her experiences of working on investments. She forged the path as there are now several women in the deal team!
How did you come to join the investment team at Kartesia?
I was contacted by Kartesia two and a half years ago as they were looking to build the investment team in France. I was recommended to Kartesia on the basis of an internship I did at Mediobanca, an Italian investment bank. My experience there was much more focused on large corporate financing, but it was relevant for the role. When Kartesia got in touch with me, I was working in the leveraged finance team at Bank of Ireland. I had been there for three years and was open to a change.
Did you know much about private debt before joining Kartesia?
I got to know some French Private Debt funds when I was at Bank of Ireland, as I had worked on some transactions with them. Therefore, I knew the industry and I was aware of how the sector had grown to be a credible alternative to bank financing. I expected the growth to continue given the financing flexibility the sector offers, so joining Kartesia felt like a unique opportunity for my career.
And what influenced your decision to join the investment team at Kartesia?
There were many aspects that attracted me to join the investment team at Kartesia. The first was the fit with the managing partners. I had met three of them as part of the interview process and we got along well. Also, l liked that the Paris team was just being created at the time. It meant that I could be part of the original team launching to the market, which was exciting. I also liked that the team was, and is still, relatively small and that the structure is flat, which means I have direct access to senior colleagues. My experience in other larger organisations was quite different, so joining a newly created small company appealed to me. Another reason was the pan-European footprint of Kartesia, which made the job even more interesting. What Kartesia does is very specialised and quite complex. I knew that was a role I wanted to take up and gain experience in those transactions. Also, being the first woman in the investment team was an additional responsibility that I was willing to take. I can now say that I forged the path as there are now several women in the deal team!
How has your investment role developed at Kartesia?
I have increasingly taken a bigger role in transactions, not only as I am now more experienced and the managing partners give me more autonomy, but also as they trust me to work more directly with them on transactions. I feel like I have evolved a lot since I joined Kartesia.
Do you feel that Kartesia supported you in that development?
The managing partners have a transparent management style and they have made clear that self-improvement is recognised and valued at Kartesia, and that has been my experience too. There is a staff development and training policy that allows all of us to attend training and seminars. The Managing Partners and our supervisors help us to develop based on our needs and aspirations. For instance, I have previously asked for some legal training, as juniors aren’t always directly involved in the negotiations.
What are your aspirations for the investment role? How do you think it's going to develop in the future?
I look forward to developing my investment expertise and experience, and one day becoming a director in the firm. I really appreciate that at Kartesia you can have honest conversations with the managing partners and your supervisor about what you need to do to progress and your career goals. There is space for everyone to step up at Kartesia! is a small team so the contribution of everyone feels acknowledged and you don’t feel easily replaceable like you might at larger organisations.
In my case, I have more experience in KCO deals, one of our strategies which focuses on selective, direct lending opportunities, so maybe I’ll specialise in those. The deals I worked on are always different; the structure, companies and discussions are unique to the deal, so it’s never dull!
What advice do you have for other women joining a deal team?
Self-confidence is key. As in most jobs, you have to believe in yourself and not be afraid to stand up for yourself. Women in particular need to voice their ideas and share their own style of working, because it can be a different perspective to the rest of the team and that can bring huge value. I encourage women to join deal teams, because it is also just really nice to work with other women, and there are too few in the sector. I think if you are motivated there is no reason not to be a success.