Meet the team: Q and A with Marion Vayson de Pradenne
We’re continuing our series of Q and As by speaking with our CFO, Company Secretary and all-round office hero who ‘makes the world go round’, Marion Vayson de Pradenne. Below, she tells us about her strong belief in business and social responsibility, the opportunities that come from working for an ambitious start-up social enterprise, and her ‘football-mad’ family.
Q1. Hi Marion, you’ve had a long and varied career in financial analysis and auditing – how did you come to work with AFDP Global?
My professional life has taught me a lot. Through a varied career in different roles, different types of work environment, and working with different personalities, I’ve developed a strong belief that all of us – whether individuals or businesses – have a critical role and responsibility to the world to act and make a positive change.
I believe that we are too ‘me’ centric, focused on building our own success and happiness – even when this is at odds with what we say about ‘teamwork’ and ‘collective’ success. I have to say that this is true of some (though not all) large firms, where there is a difference between rhetoric and reality. It is very easy to say but maybe not that easy to do: we work better when we act together towards the same ambition respecting the same values. This conviction led me to feel that I needed something different in my career – something more purposeful and rewarding, in which the way of working more closely aligned with my outlook and values.
Added to this, I have always been very interested in the news and current affairs. Looking at the various cycles and trends, we know that we can no longer count only on the public and governments initiatives, and, as individuals we need to act and address our societies’ current challenges, rather than being spectators of a reality that belongs to all of us. In my view, this means that philanthropy should be embedded in our ways of working and in any business model.
My childhood built the roots of such values and beliefs. My professional career then developed the skills, the capability, and the tools to support them. Equipped with 13 years’ experience at a global consulting firm, I wanted to bring what I have learned and developed to the world of social business. I keep thinking that social business is the future of business.
In a way, I have been very lucky to meet the right people at the right time. This was a rare opportunity; the kind that seldom arises in your career. Inspired by my meeting in the early days with our CEO JF when I learned about AFDP Global, I was really energised by such a global social project. You cannot imagine how excited I was. So excited that you know why you are making a change in your career and this is the right decision. Also, the team was paramount for me. Working with such inspiring leaders, who truly ‘lead by example’, definitely made my ambition comes true.
Q2. Can you tell us a bit about your role – what are some of the key responsibilities and challenges that you oversee?
My title is CFO and Company Secretary. It does not mean that I am not doing activities other than those prescribed by my titles! Beyond the finance activities, the compliance with statutory and regulatory requirements, and ensuring that decisions of the board of directors are implemented, the objective is to build a very strong governance framework that ensures AFDP Global makes the right decisions at the right time.
We are in start-up mode for the moment, which is really energising, and at this stage everyone has to muck-in – you don’t have the time or inclination to think too much about what your role is or isn’t. Whatever your role is on paper, you must be able to manage many subjects: strategy, website, communication, legal, and many others – even coffees for the guests!
One challenge is to be flexible enough to adapt yourself to any situation, especially when you are working globally. But when you are curious, and inspired by the diversity of people, cultures and environments, this challenge is really a proper source of motivation. This is where I am learning the most – by learning from others.
Q3. How does working for a social enterprise differ from some of the major global companies you have worked with previously?
When building a social enterprise, you have one thing in mind: to do good. Everything that you are building is geared to serve your mission. You also want to make a positive impact and think about how to guarantee the sustainability of any project, which is critical.
It is this combination of doing business and doing good that makes the social enterprise space very exciting. It’s all about making business work for people and the planet!
The common point with my previous experience is that you must deliver your services to a very high standard, demonstrating the excellence that your stakeholders – be they partners, donors or beneficiaries – are expecting from you and which underscores your professionalism and credibility.
Q4. You’re a keen sportsperson and your love of mountain trekking and skiing is well-known in the AFDP Global offices – has football been part of your life before now?
Living in the UK and surrounded at home by football-mad boys, it is difficult to escape. But it’s definitely not something I want to escape from knowing the social value and the power of football across the globe. When you look at HRH Prince Ali’s quote on our website it says everything, and no one can deny it. So, football was already a part of my life, and now it has become a real motivator and given me a powerful sense of my mission.