Astrid Guebin, GEM PGE 2020, Senior Finance Associate at ARDIAN

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Are you looking to pursue a career in Finance? Discover the profile of Astrid Guebin, a 2020 graduate of the PGE program, currently serving as a Senior Finance Associate within ARDIAN's Customized Solutions team. In her testimonial, she shares her experience, her journey, and her advice to equip you with all the necessary tools to succeed in a career in Finance.

Can you briefly introduce your company and your scope within it?

Ardian is one of the world leaders in private investment, with $164 billion in assets managed or advised on behalf of over 1,560 clients worldwide. Leveraging our expertise in Private Equity, Real Assets, and Credit, we offer our clients a wide range of investment opportunities and have the ability to respond to their needs with agility.

Our Customized Solutions expertise enables us to offer tailor-made investment solutions to our clients according to their investment objectives and to adapt the level of service to their specific needs.

Therefore, my role involves monitoring the portfolios of institutional clients, overseeing the management of their investment vehicles, and participating in development projects within Ardian, such as monitoring ESG indicators (related to environmental, social, and governance issues) in the context of new European regulations.

What has been your career path?

I joined GEM for the Grande Ecole Program, then spent a year in Singapore to pursue the Master in International Business. This experience provided an opportunity to work in a highly international environment and solidified my desire to continue my career in Finance.

Upon returning to France, I chose to take a gap year to strengthen my professional experience. It was during this time that I joined Ardian's Customized Solutions team as an intern, in France, and then in Zurich, to contribute to the development of activities in Switzerland.

Since then, I have progressed to my current position as a Senior Finance Associate, where I oversee the management of portfolios for several foreign investors as well as the development of cross-functional projects within the team.

What motivated your choice to join your current company?

Due to its strong growth, Ardian constantly offers new projects and challenges. I felt this from my first internship, during which the team trusted me and provided me with a high level of autonomy, allowing me to flourish and move to Switzerland. It is this opportunity to constantly learn, while being supported and accompanied, that I find particularly motivating at Ardian.

What does your job entail, your daily tasks (structure of your day), and your main challenges? My job involves managing the investment portfolios of institutional clients (pension funds, sovereign funds, etc.). This includes setting up investment vehicles, defining and monitoring investment objectives, establishing valuations, and analyzing performance. I also coordinate more cross-functional projects such as monitoring the diversification of our portfolios, or supporting and training new team members.

One of my main challenges today is related to communicating ESG data. The information we collect from our underlying investments is still very variable and poorly harmonized, which complicates our synthesis and analysis efforts.

Your greatest success? Your most impactful project?

One of my most rewarding projects involves supporting new arrivals, both in positions and internships. I am involved in the recruitment process from the earliest stages, such as at school forums, and then in the integration and training of new colleagues. Contributing to their fulfillment and professional success is a real driver for me, and I find it even more rewarding when former interns choose to continue with the team.

What are the career advancement opportunities within your company?

It is possible to join Ardian quite early thanks to the many internships offered each year to Master students. Depending on the needs of each activity, several people are then recruited and brought to evolve within the teams, like the 25% of employees who are former interns or apprentices.

In your opinion, what are the 3 main skills (besides academic background) to succeed in your role?

Rigor: we prepare numerous reports and financial analyses, which are then communicated to our investors. It is imperative to be precise in what is transmitted to them, while respecting regulatory deadlines.

Intellectual curiosity: as with any analysis, the goal is not only to produce numbers, but above all to understand what they represent and to identify possible trends or anomalies. Therefore, it is necessary to take a step back to ask the right questions and not hesitate to delve into the most complex subjects.

Anticipation: we are in a sector undergoing rapid change, where we are constantly learning, and facing increasingly vigilant investors. Therefore, we ensure to stay informed about market developments and to be as efficient as possible in responding to various client requests.

I think it is important to build a path as coherent as possible with one's project. This can start with choosing financial electives, or moving towards a specialized master's degree in Finance.

What advice would you give to a candidate who wants to start a career in Finance?

I think it is important to build a path as coherent as possible with one's project. This can start with choosing financial electives, or moving towards a specialized master's degree in Finance. There is no one path, and you will always need to strengthen your knowledge later on, but demonstrating that you understand the theoretical basics will always help to land your first experiences in Finance.

Then, it will be the variety of experiences in Finance that will strengthen your profile. Whether by evolving within the same structure or in different companies, the goal would be to diversify learning. A first 6-month internship in auditing or management control can be a good way to enter the market.

Finally, do not neglect the preparation for the interviews you land. Too many students arrive poorly or insufficiently prepared, for an exercise that is nevertheless crucial. A candidate who has conducted thorough research beforehand, who understands the activity and expectations of the team will thus be able to differentiate themselves better from others.

What does your company look for first in a candidate?

We are primarily looking for candidates who are rigorous and demonstrate a strong intellectual curiosity. We are aware that our activity remains very specific, and training sessions are organized for all new arrivals to better understand the challenges of Private Equity. Finally, we prioritize candidates who best reflect Ardian's values of excellence, loyalty, and entrepreneurship.

And finally, what is the word that characterizes you? Organization: whether in professional or private domains, I demonstrate a lot of organization and anticipation. I see this as the key to successfully managing multiple projects simultaneously while maintaining a work-life balance that suits me.

Find Astrid Guebin on LinkedIn.

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