Career Advice from an Alternative Credit Managing Director

Dr. Gabriella Kindert is a banking and investment expert specialising in alternative credit and private markets, with an outstanding track record in leveraged finance, private equity, private debt, corporate lending, direct lending, project finance, structured finance, and mortgage portfolios.

Gabriella has held various management roles in leading financial institutions including Global Head of Loans with BNP Paribas, Managing Partner of Kerten, Managing Partner of Investfair BV, and Head of Alternative Credit at NN Investment Partners. Gabriella is also currently a member of the supervisory board of Mizuho Europe.

Given her expertise, I asked Gabriella to share some of her experiences of the alternatives space in order to help professionals who are considering a similar career path. Below, Gabriella discusses the industry, advice she’d give to candidates, and diversity.

 

  1. What is the best thing about working in alternative credit?

“There is never a dull moment in the private markets. The environment is dynamic and the challenges are constant. I find all aspects of the value chain exciting, from deal sourcing to deal structuring, monitoring and fundraising, travelling, etc. Superimposing global macro trends and structural changes (digitalization, Fintech) on top of detailed, bottom-up credit analysis is an impressive intellectual challenge. I also like managing international investment teams a lot. The diversity of people and thoughts is energizing.”

  1. What has been the most challenging aspect of your career to date?

“The human aspect. Since the financial crisis, this industry has been going through difficult times. There have been upheavals, takeovers, and reoganizations that have adversely impacted many people. At times, very dedicated, proficient professionals were dismissed and even unfairly treated. In spite of my deep passion for the financial industry, I find this aspect of our overall changing industry hard to deal with because I value loyalty, stability, and commitment.”

  1. What advice would you give to candidates who are looking to make the move into a buy side role?

“Assessing risk is a fantastic job. It is truly fascinating to think about business risks, financial risks, and pricing the risk in the context of history and future expectations.

If you have strong analytical skills, I’d say go for it! Find an organization where you feel connected to, and aligned with, their purpose. How do you know if it has the right culture? Your instinct will tell you. You just need time to reflect and you will know the answer (bad or good).

Concentrate on continuous improvement and keep an open mind. Find new courses to self-study and take opportunities to network and learn from others. Even after 25 years in business, I am still curious and I still learn something new every day. I surprised myself a number of times by doing things that I did not anticipate but ended up enjoying them.”

  1. When you’re interviewing potential candidates what do you look for aside from relevant technical expertise?

“I managed many international teams and hired hundreds of people in my career. I look for the following things:

Intellectual capacity – With the right capacity and strong motivation, I believe you can learn most things in finance, even if you studied history or engineering.

Attitude and stamina are essential qualities to me, particularly the attitude towards going the extra mile and continuous learning. I like to hire people who want to excel, have dreams, and show passion and stamina to go for it.

Consistency between what they say and what they do. If somebody tells me they value continuous learning, but they have not completed any new courses/self-studies in the last 5 years, I would question that.

Team diversity – I hire people with different backgrounds. Aside from that fact that it makes the team more fun, I believe it adds to the quality of decision-making. I think carefully about the composition of the team and assess how the different members will feel, act and work together. Nobody is perfect, but the team can (almost) be!

  1. 78% of the alternative investment professionals in London are men, increasing to 87% above director level, do you have any specific advice for women looking to pursue a career in finance?

“I chose this career because I am passionate about lending. To this day, I still believe it is the best profession for me. If I did not have this passion, I would have left and not have to put up with all the adversity and volatility, especially since the financial crisis.

Yes, sometimes, it can be disheartening to be in a room with mostly men. But through the years, I have learned to deal with it and I don’t think about it too much anymore. I just try to be who I am and I feel respected and accepted.

So, my advice to women who want to pursue a career in finance: view yourself as a professional and don’t get too hung up on being a woman. Be yourself. Focus on the skills that YOU bring to the table, not on how many men are around the table. At the end of the day, that is what earns respect and acceptance.

Diversity is much broader than just gender diversity. Overall, I would love to see more diversity and true inclusion in this sector.”

 

If you are looking for alternative credit professionals please contact Sarah Grantham on sgrantham@leap29.com or call her on +44 (0) 1625 537 555 for more information.

 

 

Posted by Sarah Grantham