Peggy Vandeplassche, a career in Finance
My path at IÉSEG was pretty ordinary and definitely not the right example to follow.
I graduated in 2001 after 6 years of studies (2 IÉSEG I) in my hometown of Lille. I was not a very good student and was not particularly involved in the school activities.
In hindsight, I would definitely advise students to be more involved than I was, for several reasons:
1- It will give you a key differentiator when looking for a job or an internship,
2- You will meet and work with professional and like-minded students – it can come handy when looking for a job,
3- You will learn great skills that will facilitate your integration in the professional world and make you more performant.
Today, the job market is extremely competitive; many students are graduating from great schools and universities every year all around the globe. Anything you can do to positively differentiate yourself is a necessity.
Regarding my professional path, after I graduated from , I started working in Lille in accounting – not really what I wanted to do: First, I wanted to work abroad and second, finance has always been of interest to me. However finding a job in finance abroad was definitely a tall order, especially in 2001.
I started with the international part of the equation; it took me 3 years to find a job in Canada from France. It was for a French company with a production unit in Montreal. My English was very poor, so I took classes (a lot) to become fluent.
Fast forward a couple of years, one of my former bosses referred me to join a tech consulting company for a role in finance: allocating capital towards their internal tech projects – in parallel of my job I was studying for the CFA. This position would become the cornerstone of my career growth. I quickly progressed, becoming at 30 the youngest director of the corporate office; nevertheless it also became apparent that I would have a hard time moving to the next level, senior finance roles in a tech company being quite limited. I took a chance and asked to be relocated to Toronto for a new role, which allowed me to be in the heart of the financial sector. After 18 months I made a lateral move to join a bank and help them with their tech investments. I found this job via referral in the Women in Finance clubs I was very involved in – it is almost impossible to find jobs another way in North America.
A couple of years in that role I was contacted for a position of general manager in a private investment firm (via another referral).
While happy in my job at the bank and in line for a promotion I decided to take the risk and accepted the job. This has been the most rewarding and difficult position I have ever had. I probably learnt and worked in 2 years as much as I would have done in 10 years in any regular corporate role. Now I am in an amazing place: fintech / digital innovation being the biggest thing in finance at the moment and for the foreseeable future. I am currently assessing my options between going back to a bank to lead their Strategy and Innovation group, joining a VC/PE tech fund, starting my own fintech fund… Who knows? Sky is the limit!
So more importantly for you, now almost half way through my professional career, what did I learn from the above that you could leverage for your own career? See in file enclosed is my Top10 advices.
Good Luck! The best is yet to come!