Women’s History Month Q&A: Episode Four
Women’s History Month Q&A: Episode Four
As Women’s History Month comes to an end, Oriane Durvye (Managing Partner at Alantra Investment Banking), María Álvaro (Vice President of Corporate Development) and Elena Della Valle (Associate at Alantra’s Legal – M&A Department) reflect on the career advice they would give to women wishing to excel in the Finance industry and the challenges they would like to overcome in 2024.
For more on our Women’s History Month series, which honors trailblazing women at Alantra, read episode one, two and three.
Q1: What inspired you to pursue a career in Finance?
Oriane Durvye: My natural inclination for challenges. M&A is a permanent challenge, both to find new deals and to execute them.
María Álvaro: I pursued a career in Finance due to its growth potential, the intellectual challenge, and the people.
Elena Della Valle: I was inspired by the exciting, fast-paced, and dynamic environment of this industry and how it requires you to keep up with it. As a Finance M&A lawyer, it’s a continuous challenge and I like that. I love the negotiation and networking side of it because there is never a dull moment. Also, let’s not forget that having knowledge about Finance and an in-depth understanding of concepts that most people struggle with can have many benefits on your personal finance decisions. That is quite a bonus.
Q2: What key challenge is your team working on?
Oriane Durvye: I’m a Managing Partner of the French M&A team at Alantra and I’m specifically in charge of the tech deals. My team is mostly working on software deals, with values ranging from €30m to €2bn.
María Álvaro: We are working on finding the right opportunities to grow the company and determine capital allocation.
Elena Della Valle: Encompassing business growth and cost reduction in the current macroeconomic turmoil. Finance has been one of the most affected industries, as it has been hit hard by market uncertainty. The thing about this industry is that financial markets are extremely sensitive as their roots are always set in our economy and thus directly impact our lives as well as our business – although not in the same way.
Q3: Who has influenced you most in your career?
Oriane Durvye: My clients, through their recognition! Happy clients are the best reward an M&A banker can have and the best incentive to perform well.
María Álvaro: My father, he developed his career in banking and he encouraged me to follow the same path.
Elena Della Valle: I have always been deeply impacted by the senior colleagues I have worked with, especially women because of the “mirror effect”, where the thought “I could be her” is much stronger. That’s why I think it is so important to have women in senior positions. We all try to mimic the skills of the successful people we work closely with, and as a woman it is much harder to identify with a male senior executive because inevitably the challenges are not the same. Instead, when you have a female role model you think: “She made it. I can do it too”, and that makes all the difference.
Q4: What advice would you give to women looking to pursue a career in Finance?
Oriane Durvye: Don’t be afraid and go for it with confidence. A male environment is an excellent place to be for women. You will really bring something different to the table.
María Álvaro: The same advice I would give to men: it’s a good industry that offers many career opportunities, where you can find very smart people and as many intellectual challenges as you want, as well as industry where you can grow quicker than in other sectors.
Elena Della Valle: Not to think of Finance as an unwelcoming environment. It is true that it is an industry dominated by “Finance bros” as social media puts it, but that is changing. As a woman I really consider this to be a great time to be joining this dynamic, challenging and meritocratic industry.
Q5: What would you like to see happen for women in 2024?
Oriane Durvye: I would like young women to gain more confidence in their ability to conciliate a successful career in Finance and a fulfilling family life.
María Álvaro: I would like to see more women in Finance and to keep working towards having a better work-life balance so that more women choose Finance for the long-term and not just for a few years.
Elena Della Valle: I would like to see women challenging preconceptions and biases, that might make them think they are not fit for a job, position, or challenge or, even worse, that they do not deserve it. Women should stop being their worst enemy and add more invisible obstacles to themselves apart from those already out there. I would like women to have the same confidence that most men have.