After starting his career at BNP Paribas, Guillaume de La Ville held the roles of CFO and/or Finance Director at Castor Petroleum, Gunvor, Summa Group / Shtandart and Peakom (part of Essar group). Since 2009, he is a lecturer at the Geneva University and for other programs, delivering training courses on commodity finance, a challenging role that requires him to know the topic inside out, while at the same time remaining up to speed with the latest market information and evolutions. Guillaume joined Cofarco in November 2015 as Geneva Branch Director and Senior Business Developer.
#1 – What is the best moment you can remember in your career?
It is impossible to narrow it down to one! On the one hand, there are all the amazing people I have worked with and learned so much from. On the other, there has been the satisfaction of contributing to structuring and raising financing in relation to complex and challenging deals. Each of such situations brought a deep sense of satisfaction as the team felt that we were adding real value!
My current role at Cofarco is the perfect combination of my previous experiences – my various assignments in the world of banking in Singapore, Paris, Geneva and New York and my work as CFO / Finance Director. Such current role also has a commercial element that involves business development, coupled with the need for reflection and a technical approach to deliver an optimum level of service, be it in relation to financial advisory and/or credit risk brokerage.
#2 – If you had to give just one piece of advice to a junior starting his/her career, what would it be?
Be curious about everything and ask questions of everyone with whom you come into contact as part of your job. This is the best way to widen your understanding, get a better chance to analyse a situation successfully and develop personally and professionally. It’s by stepping into others’ shoes and being willing to delve deeper into issues that one may grow wiser and try and avoid the risk of making errors.
I would also add the obvious aspect of establishing long term, partnership relationships, based on respect, trust, performance and professionalism.
#3 – Do you have a Motto/Lucky charm?
Whether being a Banker, working in a commodity trading company finance team, or in any other position, be humble about what you do not know. Rather admit when you cannot answer a question than pretend you know it all. Such humility should overtime allow you to gain in credibility.
#4 – What do you enjoy the most in your day to day job?
A combination of different things:
– the fact that our activities are both connected to very simple and physical needs while at the same time influenced by macroeconomic and highly geopolitical aspects;
– the combination of technical expertise with real-life cases that are both constantly changing and all different.
– the opportunity to dialogue and exchange with others, clients, service providers and/or colleagues, trying to better understand their constraints, opportunities, points of view, allowing to generate creative ideas and find better solutions.
#5 – If you had to do it again would you chose the same career path?
I was very lucky to fall into this sector by chance:
While my first experience in commercial banking was amazingly interesting, I soon realised I needed a more dynamic and faster pace environment where I could also use my Russian speaking skills. That’s how I opted for trade finance out of Geneva.
I would – no doubt – make the same choices again. Each of my previous experiences – including the most challenging ones – have given me the opportunity to learn by being exposed to different people, markets, tools, each with its own distinctive features, which has ultimately allowed me to come up with new ideas and create opportunities.
#6 – Where is your favourite place on earth and why?
Wherever I am when you ask me! For me, it’s the pleasure of living in the moment. I loved my life in Singapore, and New York just as I’m having a ball now in Geneva.
#7 – How could you qualify your relationship with Ampersand World?
Excellent! I have a huge amount of respect for what Penda and her team have succeeded in building up over the years.