Gilles Sayer is one of our most trusted clients. We especially like the fact that he is open minded, smart, fun and has a rich background in Structured Finance, Trade Finance and advisory. Some of the well known companies he has worked for are BNP Paribas, Crédit Agricole CIB, as well as Riverdale Commodities as Managing Director and CEO. We are delighted to share with you this interview.
#1/ Gilles Sayer, what is the best time you can remember in your career?
Getting deals in the bag certainly provides moments of huge satisfaction and a sense of belonging to a great team. More important than all that, though, I would rate working for one particular “boss” during my banking career as the most rewarding thing. People are everything.
#2/ If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior starting out in their career, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid. Try, follow your instincts, don’t be guided by pre-conceived ideas, do not assume, query, challenge, be curious, ask. Don’t think about a career plan, think about what makes you tick, what excites you…
#3/ Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm?
My motto is: if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
#4/ What do you enjoy the most in your day-to-day work?
At a start-up, you come into the office, not to fit into a predefined job description, but to invent what tomorrow will be about. It’s a blank page: investors have a broad understanding of where you want to head but, within those loose parameters, you are free to be creative and make your own choices.
#5/ If you had to do it all again, would you choose the same career path?
The leading innovative industries are different for each generation. I started in the early 90s, after the Big Bang, and banking was very much an industry which attracted talents and was very high-tech. It still is, and it probably remains one where you have the chance to be challenged for many years by the variety of different jobs and techniques. There are other industries today which are equally attractive so, as a naturally curious person, I would probably venture elsewhere, if I were given the chance.
#6/ Where is your favourite place on earth, and why?
A special place in Normandy where I put down roots with my family: green, wide, architecturally beautiful and surrounded by horses.
#7/ How would you classify your relationship with Ampersand World?
We have worked with Ampersand since 2014 and what I like about them is that they look at their purpose as a continuum, rather than as individual deals. We meet regularly, we discuss ideas, notes, feedback, whether or not we hire someone, etc.