INTERVIEW : Mr Perret Gentil Guinand for EDF

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 MR PERRET GENTIL GUINAND FOR EDF

Today, meeting with Mr Perret Gentil Guinand, at EDF. Good reading!

 

Short presentation of EDF: Électricité de France S.A. is a French utility electric public company founded in 1946 through the nationalisation of around 1700 small energy distributors, producers and transporters. Headquartered in Paris, it provides electricity to the European, American, Asian and African market, results which made this firm the largest electricity producers worldwide in 2009 with approximately 160,00 employees all around the world. The energy produced by Électricité de France is mainly Nuclear and then follow the renewable one, gas, coal and others.

As for this company’s core business, EDF covers all the entire electricity business, from energy generation and distribution to trading and dismantling. Especially in recent years, this firm is very active in developing technologies working with hydropower, wind and solar energy due to the global transition towards a sustainable economy.

This company is traded on the Euronext in the index CAC Next 20 and its stock value is running low since the end of 2007, when it registered its maximum at 85.50 euros.

 

What are the main challenges an electric utility company faces in its business? And how EDF is working to deal with the green direction the world economy is going towards?

First of all, EDF already pays attention to a sustainable business, due to its diversified portfolio of energy sources, where the nuclear one accounts for the most produced kind of power, especially in France.

However, there are three main projects that EDF is working on, to improve its eco-friendly side of their business. Firstly, marine energy: this very sophisticated process exploits the power of oceans, gathering together the energy released by waves on the sea surface and the tidal one, originated by large fluctuations in oceans level.

Secondly, the problem of stocking energy. By now, it’s impossible stocking electric power to preserve it, thus, when it’s not totally consumed the result is a wastefulness. To counter this problem, many EDF engineers are working to create battery capable of keeping the energy produced for a certain amount of time so as to transfer it to other purposes. By the way, this project is also oriented to use already existing battery (like the one of the car) to storage the energy produced by other devices and use it without wasting it.

To conclude, the biomass energy. This kind of power is generated burning organic materials and it is particularly relevant nowadays, because of the problem of rubbish, inevitable consequence of developed societies.

To increase the probability of success in the process of transition from a coal energy to a biomass man, EDF has mixed these two power sources in France, letting the society and business adapting themselves to this change gradually.

 

In which way a work experience in EDF can provide a finance student with an added value?

Based on your personal experience, what are the main qualities which have helped you to succeed in a career in EDF?

What kind of students is your company looking for? Are there some hard or soft skills particularly required?

To work in EDF there are several traits a student must have:

  • Adaptiveness and Dynamicity. It is reported that in 4 years, half of the employees in EDF have changes, which means that it’s required to be able to cooperate with different people and team members, who can be different from project to project. Another issue about being adaptive is the fact that normally every ¾ years employees change work location, units and consequently live style.
  • Imaginative. Although this company has not the flexibility of a startup thanks to its dimension and structure, the core business, which shapes all the different departments, it’s purely devoted to innovation and research. Therefore, a creative mind is required for this kind of job, given the fact that energy is fast changing business, where the unknown is not just the future goal.
  • Solid hard skills. EDF, due to its core business, is a company in which a great number of engineers works. This fact leads to a marked distinction of tasks within the company structure between technicians and managers. However, for a business student it is required a solid knowledge and an open mind, ready to dialogue with a team of engineers to succeed in each project, where complexity is not an exception but normality.

 

Could you tell us about the biggest challenge you have overcome at EDF?

The biggest challenge of working in EDF is starting to be competitive and fully conscious of tasks, challenges and dynamics. When a new employee starts working in EDF he has to work in an already formed team, developing a project started many years before, with a high speed of change. Dynamicity and flexibility are two components required for every team, always focused on working with a continuous improvement attitude. Moreover, especially for freshmen, since the first day they join the company, they have to solve tasks which entails assuming responsibility of every kind.

 

Can you describe us a typical day in EDF?

The typical day of a M&A intern in EDF is divided in many parts.

Meetings are the base of this work, because they are essential to communicate with all the other department and positions required for this business: engineers, for the technical aspects, investment bankers for the deal, big 4 companies for the due diligence, the legal department for the contract, international colleague, who work on the deal from another country and finally the management of EDF, which have to made decisions on the base of all the information available.

There is no routine in this job, project differs and working hours follow the deal, so every day is different. To conclude, there are a lot of similarities with jobs in M&A in investment banks, because the main task is being a financial analyst and of course, the core business, is always M&A.

Interview carried out by Francesco Diego Trovato

GEM Finance Society

 

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