On March 22 2016, Mardis de l'ESSEC and partner association ESSEC Transaction met with Yves Perrier (E76), Managing Director of Europe’s leading asset management company, Amundi. A crash course in finance, management and even philosophy. Report by student Diego Mermet.
A man who had to choose between becoming a professional football player and pursuing academics, Yves Perrier kicked off the discussion with a rather philosophical “to be an elite athlete, you must know how to fight and also how to lose”. Therein lies the key to his business ethic. Perrier sees himself first and foremost as a creator of businesses who earned his stripes at Société Générale and Crédit Agricole before uniting the two banks asset management divisions and taking over the direction of the new entity. Has he truly ever lost? We may never know.
A relaxed, natural-born teacher, Amundi’s boss never resorts to in house jargon and can take a highly technical topic and put it in layman’s terms – an essential skill to have when you are sitting at the head of 1,000 billion in assets. In an effort to give his line of business a human face, Perrier has become a self-proclaimed industry leader who, after having first created his group from the ground up, is now developing its services to a point where it can sell standardised financial products en masse, in the same way others sell Porsche or coffee pots. In response to competition coming from Asia and the States, Perrier’s European model is a lean, Taylorist structure. Yet, wouldn’t such a business model lead to a high turnover of interns? Pish-posh! There are a number of internal mechanisms that are readily available for interns to easily move up the company ladder… Perrier is a fervent advocate of people management, something he feels is lacking in France’s best business schools. Dare to take risks! Dare to venture into the unknown! This is Perrier’s battle cry because he sees, day in, day out, that “business ventures aren’t lacking in financial capital, more often than not they lack human capital!”
As such, Yves Perrier is interested in more than just proficient bookkeeping, and as the conversation unfolds, so too does his vision of an ideal employee. Lifelong training and working as a team are his main catchcries – employers of tomorrow will look for people who are flexible, who will learn and adapt throughout their working lives, who are humble, who are fully aware that “you don’t become anything on your own; you are what you are thanks to the people around you”. A perfect closing remark for a man who sounds much like a business philosopher.