On September the 28th, GEM Finance Society and GEM Career Center had the pleasure to organise the FINANCE BOOTCAMP at Grenoble Ecole de Management.
In case you missed it, GEM Finance Society had the opportunity to ask our participants questions about the sector and their company. We will post each one of the interviews on our blog, so keep posted.
INTERVIEW WITH MRS ANCLIN AND MR MEATZ FOR SANOFI
Today, meeting with Mrs Anclin and Mr Meatz, at Sanofi. Good reading!
Short presentation of Sanofi : Sanofi is a leading global healthcare company, focused on patient needs and engaged in the research, development, manufacture and marketing of therapeutic solutions. Sanofi has two principal activities: pharmaceuticals, and vaccines via Sanofi Pasteur. An aging global population with high unmet medical needs, means that there is very good potential for Sanofi to grow in the next couple of decades. With consistently growing gross profit, an increasing asset base and a good debt position, the group has positioned itself as a strong long-term giant in this industry. It was already one of the fastest growing pharmaceutical companies in 2016.
We interviewed Michelle Anclin (Transfer Pricing Manager), who studied at HEC, and Nicolas Meatz (Control Manager), who studied his Masters’ at GEM.
Michelle has always been interested in finance. However, at the beginning of her career, she didn’t know whether she liked corporate or market finance better. After gaining more experience, she realised that, in corporate finance, she could interact with other departments in the company while explaining objectives and supporting operations. She likes the fact that corporate finance allows to see her hard work come to fruition, especially with respect to the response and growth in the market. She even had the opportunity to go out on the field, challenge the employees to work harder, reassure them in their decision-making, and answer their questions. She stressed the importance of interacting with them in person to understand their specific tasks better so she can give constructive advice.
Nicolas also faced a dilemma in the second year and could not choose between corporate and market finance. He realised he would enjoy working in corporate finance more after having a few interviews in both fields and observing that it was harder for him to picture himself in market finance in the future and explain his motivations while being asked the question.
Like Michelle, he enjoys seeing how his work makes the company he works for evolve and prosper. Both of them then agreed on the fact that their job was to interpret numbers and make their interpretation accessible to others who (in the shop floor, in operations, etc.) need it for the company’s tasks. Michelle and Nicolas stressed the importance of the pedagogic skills necessary to achieve this task, showing again that corporate finance is also about communication.
This reminded Michelle of a quite surprising anecdote: when one of her colleagues in Sanofi changed her entire career to become a teacher. She said this woman was so good at making complicated concepts accessible that this unusual career move did not shock her colleagues after all. She was always a role model for everyone making presentations.
Michelle said she is now principal of her school, which shows that she, indeed, has the right skills for education as well.
She then told us about a mission she had in Bagdad, where she went to try and raise capital and enter the market. This mission is the proof that finance is not only how uninformed people picture it: people in penguin suits locked in a room, not interacting with anyone, only facing their figures and numbers on their computer. It shows how meeting people helps gaining in credibility and getting the investors’ trust in your company’s project to make them support it.
In finance, communication is one of the most important skills.
With respect to their current jobs, Michelle only became transfer pricing manager in 2013. Transfer Pricing is important for multinational companies dealing with cross border trade. The involvement of multiple jurisdictions means that local tax authorities want to deduct tax on any money made involving their country. Transfer Pricing is especially important for companies that have well performing subsidiaries. A transfer pricing manager reduces this double taxation.
As a transfer pricing manager, she takes care of prices of transfers and focusses on the different fiscal issues in all the countries where the group operates. She takes decisions regarding where to declare profits and losses for example. However, her job is not only about tax issues. Transfer pricing managers also need to have good economics & business knowledge. They need to clearly understand all the activity flows within the company – e.g.: purchasing and sales. She finds her job rather interesting as it gives a global view of the company and enables her to touch multiple domains. She added that her activities are ruled by the OECD. Transfer pricing managers have to allocate the same percentage of revenue for partners who provide value to the product or service Sanofi provides in similar ways. The remuneration of partner therefore depends on the risks they take and their property and intellectual rights on the final product. The intellectual property being the most determinant factor as the pharmaceutical industry and Sanofi are focussed on innovation. The position of a transfer pricing manager also allowed her to stay in Lyon.
Our two interviewees then explained that triennially, people were encouraged to change their department or specialisation. This enables the employees to have a very diverse experience and constantly learn and teach notions, strategies, in their new teams.
The importance of accounting knowledge was stressed, because it is important to judge the company’s general direction and performance.
Nicolas chose to be management controller because he was given the opportunity and thought he could learn a lot doing something interesting like this.
Speaking of student associations and their benefits, Nicolas is a GEM alumnus and has been part of GFS, called “traders” at this time. He took part in the “traders cup”. Student associations enabled him to meet people sharing the same interests and build a network in the chosen domain. Being part of an association also gives one more chances to find a job or internship as it allows one to demonstrate their skills (e.g.: how to work with others, …), and grow your network. Engaging in co-curricular projects show proactivity, interest in the field, and dynamism.
Nicolas testified that work is more and more done transversally, without much intervention from the superiors. This is why he thinks teambuilding is also very important to optimize the team’s productivity and motivation. Associations are a very good way to improve oneself in this respect.
Nicolas then talked about his career span. He integrated Sanofi for a VIE (French voluntary work of maximum 2 years) in Shanghai thanks to his network.
He had to work with science researchers for a project development and therefore had to be curious and do some research by himself to understand the scientific part of the project and be able to give better advice. This is why he thinks network and curiosity are key.
His challenge today is to develop an automatized data management system to help financial analysts with their forecasts by collecting information and building dashboards, etc.
The other long-term project his department works on is the merge of the 7 SAP accounts currently used by the Sanofi group into one. This project should be completed in 10 years and it will involve a lot of change in the way most partners work.
We then spoke about the corporate culture in Sanofi. As Sanofi is a multinational group, there is no such thing as a unified culture for the whole group. Sanofi has members all around the world and each of them has its own corporate culture.
The advantage is that if one works in Sanofi and doesn’t like one’s job or the culture and ambiance in one’s workplace, there are so many possibilities inside the group that one can always try another job with another partner until one finds the perfect match!
To conclude this article, the Finance Bootcamp enabled us to meet professionals, listen to their testimonies and experience. We had the pleasure of having a detailed discussion with the professionals from Sanofi, who through their knowledge and insights, gave us a clearer picture of the world of corporate finance.
Interview carried out by Floranne Romanet
Reviewed by Sidhaant Mehra
GEM Finance Society